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The Skinner (Spatterjay) Paperback – 2 Oct 2009

4.3 out of 5 stars 63 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Tor; Reprints edition (2 Oct. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330512528
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330512527
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 13.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 126,109 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

In his second full-length SF novel The Skinner, Neal Asher offers an exhilarating clash of multiple factions--each with their own peculiar agenda--on the lethal waterworld Spatterjay.

The seas teem with hungry monstrosities, but Spatterjay holds immortality. When its giant leeches bite out gobs of flesh, they transmit a virus that forces regrowth, preserving the leech food supply. Some human colonists, the Old Captains, have lived many centuries. But beware of going native, like the legendary, repulsive Skinner whose undying head is now confined to a box...

Other locals include the worried AI Warden who polices Spatterjay, and the old, unruly war drone Sniper--as engagingly sassy as anything from Iain M Banks. Tourists arrive: a woman returning to ask whether her viral immortality was worth it, a human agent of hive-mind intelligence discovered among Earth's hornets, and a man 700 years dead but (thanks to preservatives and cyborg implants) still avenging the atrocities of Spatterjay's founding fathers in an even older war.

That ancient conflict involved the alien Prador, whose own war criminals fear the long memories preserved on Spatterjay, and are taking measures. Illicit intruders lurk, including an immortal sadistic psychopath and a submerged spaceship loaded with continent-busters.

Asher cuts deftly between strands of fast-moving narrative, laced with action, biological inventiveness, grotesque horror, and glints of humour. When Sniper the battle-happy drone gets swallowed by a giant "molly carp"--a protected species--he must wait in disgusted frustration for (ahem) natural processes to release him.

Multiple climaxes of combat, death, justice, sacrifice, and vindication lead to some nicely sneaky or witty reversals. This is an enjoyable, unpretentious, neatly crafted SF adventure. --David Langford --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

""Dune" meets "Master and Commander" . . . This sprawling tale boasts baddies who deserve their torturous fate and heroes who merit further evolution."-"Entertainment Weekly"
"Every age gets the science fiction it deserves. Neal Asher's grimly assured novel "The Skinner "projects the terror-haunted sensibility of our time into a future of limitless brutality. . . . Asher displays great virtuosity in dramatizing Spatterjay's eat-and-be-eaten ecosystem . . .
Asher keeps raising the stakes so that despite the repetitive nature of the violence, it never becomes merely formulaic. You may not relish your stay on Spatterjay. But you won't easily forget it." -"The New York Times Book Review"
"A rousing space opera . . . Asher will definitely appeal to connoisseurs of sophisticated adventure-oriented SF."-Publishers Weekly
"[A] riotous far-future SF yarn . . . The whole impressive, ingenious enterprise hurtles along at a high-octane clip while swinging with nonchalant abandon between horror and comedy: call it black slapstick. In sum: a blast."-Kirkus Reviews [Starred Review]
"Moby Dick meets Philip K. Dick . . . [A] summary does not begin to do justice to the sheer twisty exuberance and witty inventiveness of Asher's plot. . . . it is easy to believe that no lesson in the art of writing vivid and entertaining science fiction as practiced by [the] masters was lost on him.
"This book has got it all. Cute but vicious creatures that seem to have been devised through some unholy combination of exposure to Walt Disney-style animation and bad acid. Wisecracking AIs that use their advanced intellects to scheme against each other and pursue the main chance. Scary and believable aliens. The clash of complex cultures. World-building with a vengeance-literally. And a contagious sense of fun.
"As if that weren't enough, Asher's characters, alien and human, are drawn with care and depth. Even minor characters . . . are distinctive and engaging, with fully developed personalities. Thanks to Asher's prowess with character, "The Skinner," for all its violence, good humor and zestful creativity, is also a poignant, emotionally satisfying read. This is only Asher's second novel, but it serves notice that a talent of the first order has arrived."-"SF Weekly"
"This is a stunning piece of work. . . . "The Skinner" is a hugely engrossing read and simply a fantastic piece of entertainment that deserves serious consideration for the Arthur C. Clarke award. I strongly recommend it."-SFRevu.com
"Crammed full of inventive technology, organic and artificial intelligence, horrible monsters, and a thick mesh of storylines . . . extremely hard to put down."--"SFX"
"If anyone still imagines that likening an SF author's work to action-thriller-horror genres means that it can't really be SF, or that it can't be good SF, then they need to pick up one or both of Asher's novels. "Gridlinked" and "The Skinner" demonstrate that zombies, mutants, killer leeches, spies and assassins can all be placed within detailed, scientifically, underpinned and extrapolated worlds, with the strengths of SF literature being used to resurrect dead cliches of popular narrative."-"Interzone"
"An exhilarating tour through one of the most ingeniously, elaborately deadly worlds since Harry Harrison invented Deathworld in the 1960s."-"Locus"


Asher keeps raising the stakes so that despite the repetitive nature of the violence, it never becomes merely formulaic. You may not relish your stay on Spatterjay. But you won't easily forget it." -"The New York Times Book Review"

"Dune" meets "Master and Commander" . . . This sprawling tale boasts baddies who deserve their torturous fate and heroes who merit further evolution. "Entertainment Weekly"

Every age gets the science fiction it deserves. Neal Asher's grimly assured novel The Skinner projects the terror-haunted sensibility of our time into a future of limitless brutality. . . . Asher displays great virtuosity in dramatizing Spatterjay's eat-and-be-eaten ecosystem . . .
Asher keeps raising the stakes so that despite the repetitive nature of the violence, it never becomes merely formulaic. You may not relish your stay on Spatterjay. But you won't easily forget it. "The New York Times Book Review"

A rousing space opera . . . Asher will definitely appeal to connoisseurs of sophisticated adventure-oriented SF. "Publishers Weekly"

[A] riotous far-future SF yarn . . . The whole impressive, ingenious enterprise hurtles along at a high-octane clip while swinging with nonchalant abandon between horror and comedy: call it black slapstick. In sum: a blast. "Kirkus Reviews [Starred Review]"

Moby Dick meets Philip K. Dick . . . [A] summary does not begin to do justice to the sheer twisty exuberance and witty inventiveness of Asher's plot. . . . it is easy to believe that no lesson in the art of writing vivid and entertaining science fiction as practiced by [the] masters was lost on him.

This book has got it all. Cute but vicious creatures that seem to have been devised through some unholy combination of exposure to Walt Disney-style animation and bad acid. Wisecracking AIs that use their advanced intellects to scheme against each other and pursue the main chance. Scary and believable aliens. The clash of complex cultures. World-building with a vengeance-literally. And a contagious sense of fun.

As if that weren't enough, Asher's characters, alien and human, are drawn with care and depth. Even minor characters . . . are distinctive and engaging, with fully developed personalities. Thanks to Asher's prowess with character, The Skinner, for all its violence, good humor and zestful creativity, is also a poignant, emotionally satisfying read. This is only Asher's second novel, but it serves notice that a talent of the first order has arrived. "SF Weekly"

This book has got it all. Cute but vicious creatures that seem to have been devised through some unholy combination of exposure to Walt Disney-style animation and bad acid. Wisecracking AIs that use their advanced intellects to scheme against each other and pursue the main chance. Scary and believable aliens. The clash of complex cultures. World-building with a vengeance-literally. And a contagious sense of fun.

As if that weren't enough, Asher's characters, alien and human, are drawn with care and depth. Even minor characters . . . are distinctive and engaging, with fully developed personalities. Thanks to Asher's prowess with character, The Skinner, for all its violence, good humor and zestful creativity, is also a poignant, emotionally satisfying read. This is only Asher's second novel, but it serves notice that a talent of the first order has arrived. "SF Weekly"

As if that weren't enough, Asher's characters, alien and human, are drawn with care and depth. Even minor characters . . . are distinctive and engaging, with fully developed personalities. Thanks to Asher's prowess with character, "The Skinner," for all its violence, good humor and zestful creativity, is also a poignant, emotionally satisfying read. This is only Asher's second novel, but it serves notice that a talent of the first order has arrived. "SF Weekly"

This is a stunning piece of work. . . . "The Skinner" is a hugely engrossing read and simply a fantastic piece of entertainment that deserves serious consideration for the Arthur C. Clarke award. I strongly recommend it. "SFRevu.com"

Crammed full of inventive technology, organic and artificial intelligence, horrible monsters, and a thick mesh of storylines . . . extremely hard to put down. "SFX"

If anyone still imagines that likening an SF author's work to action-thriller-horror genres means that it can't really be SF, or that it can't be good SF, then they need to pick up one or both of Asher's novels. "Gridlinked" and "The Skinner" demonstrate that zombies, mutants, killer leeches, spies and assassins can all be placed within detailed, scientifically, underpinned and extrapolated worlds, with the strengths of SF literature being used to resurrect dead cliches of popular narrative. "Interzone"

An exhilarating tour through one of the most ingeniously, elaborately deadly worlds since Harry Harrison invented Deathworld in the 1960s. "Locus"" --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Neal Asher, master of gritty science fiction, is back with a novel that makes even the intense GRIDLINKED seem like a joy ride.
Asher's future is a no place for the faint-hearted. This is a time when a slight miscalculation is all-too likely to take you out passing through the runcibles that provide instantaneous galactic travel. Don't worry, though, everything is all right, because this universe is run by "flawless" AIs.
The planet Asher springs on us in this novel is an entity as deadly as any of the criminals our ECS agent Keech is sent to wipe out. Every form of life on Spatterjay survives at the expense of others, including the no-longer human Hoopers.
Keech, perhaps, has less to worry about -- after all, he has been dead more than seven centuries, but that doesn't mean he doesn't pose a threat to some of the most heinous villains to ever appear in fiction. Erlin may have her own form of immortality to fall back on, but even she can die. And what of the Hive-linked Janer? What is truly his agenda on Spatterjay?
Asher floods the reader's senses with input. From planet to planet, he produces stark, stunning visuals of the terrain and the natives. Employing a wide-ranging cast of characters , Asher infuses each individual with animation and unique personality. It's a mark of his skill that some of the most appealing and sympathetic of his creations are the Subminds of the AI. With a minimum of strokes, he paints in fully fleshed-out characters. Come to think of it, that's how Asher brings THE SKINNER vividly to life.
And when you finish this novel, you'll know precisely what a horrifying idea bringing the Skinner to life is...
Asher delivers the goods every time. And, he leaves you eager for more.
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I discovered Neal Asher about 6 months ago when I first read Gridlinked and I was hooked.
After having read all of his books, I can safely conclude that The Skinner is certainly Asher's best work (with Gridlinked following a close 2nd). Without going into too much detail, this book is one of the most immersive pieces of science fiction I've come across.
One of the reviewers described aspects of Skinner as implausible - I strongly suggest that reviewer go off and read trashy Grisham-like novels! This is science fiction mate; landing on the moon once seemed implausible!
I digress...
I have never managed to draw such a rich imaginative picture whilst reading any other piece of sciene fiction (ok maybe Neuromancer). I clearly remember one scene where the main character of the book is flying this Star Wars-like airbike across the ocean infested with the most grotesque and bad-ass creatures imaginable - I could picture this scene as if I was flying alongside him! I could rattle off numerous other such experiences whilst reading this book.
Give it a go, hopefully you will derive as much enjoyment out of Asher as I have.
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The Skinner starts off quietly enough, but we are quickly introduced to a host of 'new' stuff. It does not matter whether you've read any of the other Polity stories, this particular one takes place on a fascinating planet that is home to a range of deadly sea-life and the aged Hoopers. Throw in some centuries old vendettas, alien politics, and a rather nasty chap called The Skinner and you are all set for a good read.
Great to have some of the AI drones, hornets, and even the intelligent sails getting a decent look-in.
Very original, I loved this.
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The Skinner was the first Neal Asher book I read, and it is still my favourite. Set on the highly dangerous waterworld of Spatterjay, which is infested by a wide variety of suicidally voracious aquatic life forms, this is a hugely enjoyable and action packed novel. The Skinner features quirky characters (both human and robotic), truly horrible and violent aliens, space battles, sea battles, undersea battles and an ecosystem straight from Hell, all of which makes for some terrific entertainment. After reading this, you will never look at the fish counter in your local supermarket in the same way again.
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By Bearman TOP 500 REVIEWER on 8 Aug. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is the first book by Neal Asher that I read, and I absolutely loved it. I have since gone out and read a lot of his other work, and although good, The Skinner stands out as my favourite.

This is my type of science fiction - distant planets, intrigue and some really bizarre alien biology. The concept is clever, the style of writing is engaging, the plot is fast moving and the whole book highly entertaining. I thoroughly enjoyed it and definitely recommend it to others.
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If anyone is unsure about Neal Asher's ability as a writer, they haven't read either of his novels. After reading Gridlinked I have been waiting for the follow-up. The Skinner does not disappoint.
The Skinner is an excellent story set in a phenomenally engrossing future. Spatterjay, the planet upon which most of the action is based, is a superb piece of Sci-fi environment.
If you have not read either Gridlinked or The Skinner, go out and buy them both now! Settle in with Mr. Crane and the Old Captains for a week. If you are a Sci-fi fan you will love these books.
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I agree with other reviewers that this book is a tour de force of imagination. Where it fell short for me, though, was the lack of empathy. I found that I was struggling to read on because I didn't really care about any of the characters. A gesture towards altruism in the last chapter didn't help me much. Asher is a good technical writer, but give me the humanity of Ian M Banks' characters any day.
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