Zero Point (Owner Trilogy 2) Hardcover – 2 Aug. 2012
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Zero Point launches with all the momentum built up in the final pages of #1 and continues to accelerate. But more than that, it clarifies and consolidates into something more, a story so well crafted that it is (IMO) almost flawless. A revelation after #1. The only minor literary missteps occur in the short off-stage passages of future history and background that preface each chapter, because occasionally they lapse into a tone that makes them read as vehicles for the author's political opinions - never quite appropriate in a novel, no matter how interesting. But this is a very minor criticism. Zero Point is a terrifically well written and well structured story that more than fulfils the promise of its forerunner and makes you eager to read #3 (I have that pleasure to come)
PS Happy with purchase.
If you don't know Asher but like "hard" science fiction done well try this.
Top international reviews
Im 2. Band wird der Plot weiterentwickelt: Serene Galahad, eine der wenigen Überlebenden der gestürzten Erdregierung, bringt nicht nur Wettbewerber um die Regierungs-Macht um, sondern durch die ID-Chips, die jeder Erdbewohner implantiert hat, die halbe Erdbevölkerung um. Ausserdem schickt sie ein Raumschiff Saul und der Argus-Station hinterher, um Daten und wichtige Bio-Proben ausgestorbener Lebewesen und Pflanzen zurückzuholen. Dabei entwickelt sich ein spannendes Rennen.
Serene ist eine zwiespältige Person: Sie hat durchaus viele positive Ideen, die Zustände auf der Erde wieder zu verbessern, ihre Methoden sind aber brutal: Mal eben einige Millionen umzubringen, um Platz für ein Reservat auf Madagascar zu errichten, oder eine grosse Gruppe umzubringen, weil einige von ihnen Hirschfleisch gegessen haben - und Hirsche galten als ausgestorben, deshalb will Serene diesen kleinen Bestand beschützen...
Überflüssig und zu brutal ist der Teil, in dem sie ihren Vater foltert und umbringt - das ist eine sinnlos brutale und detaillierte Darstellung, die für die Handlung irrelevant ist.
Aber totale Macht korrumpiert eben auch total.
Parallel bereitet sich die Marskolonie auf einen Vergeltungsschlag von Serene vor, und muss dabei mit Verrätern in der eigenen Reihe kämpfen.
Der Plot ist wirklich gut durchdacht, die negative Entwicklung, die die Erde erfahren hat, sind entsetzlich - aber nicht unplausibel, un dinsgesamt sehr spannend.
Es hat ein paar Längen, wie bereits erwähnt die Folter von Serenes Vater, oder die Vorgänge auf Argus, als Saul schwer verletzt wird - sein organischer Teil - und eigentlich im Koma liegt, sein Computer-Teil aber durchaus aktiv und planmässig weiterhandelt; da kommt es duch zu ein paar Spannungs-Hängern.
Aber zum Ende hin kommt es Asher-mässig dann doch wieder zum Showdown.
Ich freu mich schon auf Teil 3.
The horrible loss of freedoms caused by overpopulation and the subsequent clawing upwards of a suppressed but relatively competent and intelligent subgroup is very well shown. I loved and hated the book's content, but greatly admired the writing and the philosophical area explored.
Now with the Owner books, however, I have to question whether it was Neil Asher or perhaps just the Polity that I was enjoying so much.
Aside from being a rather grim take on the next hundred and fifty years, I don't find it easy, or even especially desirable, to empathize with many, if any, of the characters. Granted, this was kind of a weak spot in the Polity, too, but not nearly so much. Signature Asher elements are here, mega-violence, new technologies (or new takes on existing ones), and so on, but at times I really did forget I was reading a Neil Asher and found myself skimming through parts. Page after page of one person, all alone, digging for oxygen bottles, or moving stuff around, just doesn't do much to advance the story or the characterization so far as I'm concerned.
From time to time, too, it felt like The Owner was being given little setbacks every time he started pulling too far away from the competition, just for the sake of not showing it as a total walkover. I know a lot of fiction does this, to one degree or another, but it felt more obvious than usual here, with less other stuff, humor, characterization, mysteries, etc. to distract us from the tennis match.
Overall, I don't regret reading them, but I doubt I will ever reread them, as I probably will with some of the Polity books, someday.
On a minor note, life has been good enough that I don't let a $13.99 price tag per book stand in the way of my reading one book or even a long series, if I am willing to put the time into reading it in the first place, but it feels like rather a lot and I know there were times in my life where it just would have been out of the question to pay that much for an ebook . . . had ebooks existed.
For some that have given it low reviews, I don't see how you cannot get engaged with the characters because they have to build their living environment sometimes maybe you should read Andy Weir's The Martian, you know, being on an inhospitable planet is not all pew pew and space boinking, sometimes you just have to dig holes or plant potatoes and hope for the best.
I would liken Neil's work to my favorite and unfortunately now deceased author Ian M Banks, with his very believable world (universe) building and his meticulous attention to the 'How' of things and although I can't see his sales figures, it kind of baffles me why there are not thousands of reviews for his work, do people really not know about him?
Anyway, there is really not a bad one in the bunch, especially liked the Spatterjay ones, totally weird and wonderful and will definitely buy the third one in this series, and probably anything else he writes, enjoy!!
Asher continues to be, as he has been for at least the last decade, one of my five favorite top science fiction authors of all time. I can't wait for the third one.
He is incredibly effective anti-communist/socialist invectives were simply an added bonus to this amazing and oh so very dark story. He applied his incredibly sharp insight and wit to an even more current and more obvious problem.
Neal Asher carries on in the tradition of Orwell in terms of warning the masses of the horrors that lie within the technological and philosophical suppression of free will in the interests of tyranny. With the insight that 75 years of technological advancement have given Mr. Asher, his warnings and his predictive abilities have only become more accurate, more realistic and more horrifying than Mr. Orwell's could have ever hoped to have been.
Beyond its technical and storytelling achievement, this story serves as a Cassandra like warning to those who would consolidate unrestricted and unopposed power within the face of centralized government.
If all men were angels, why would we need a God? If all men were Devils, of what use would a God be?
The story is split between Mars, the Argus space station and Earth, and everyone is struggling to survive, obviously except the leader of Earth who has every luxury available and fawning minions trying not to be noticed. Alan Saul with others on the Argus further develops some interesting technology, the distributed brain/processing cubes and androids are very cool. I'm trying not to spoil too much of what develops, but there is certainly plenty to keep a constant interest in events.
I enjoyed most of the characters and their development, although I thought Hannah was a little flat and less interesting than in 'The Departure'. I enjoyed Var's struggle with leadership and responsibility on Mars.
I love Asher's chapter beginnings which all have a little bit of history which help tie this unreal Earth back to ours, and show us the path to this nightmare. A little bit of social and political commentary in there too.
The first book in this series, The Departure, was great but so busy it was hard to absorb all the clever techno concepts. Zero Point is more coherent and has a bit more insight on characters. One thing that did put me off about Zero Point was the huge body count (billions!) and the repetitive displays of Serene's sociopathic behavior -- too much. Reminded me of the endless horrific stuff portrayed in Ian Banks' The Algebraist. Evil can be depicted in a more selective but still effective manner, I think, as in the Polity Agent series (still my favorite). Once the point is made a few times, we can move on.
That being said, I liked the book tremendously. It points up some intersting concepts/conflicts on overpopulation coupled with ecological collapse, and just what to do (or not do!) about these conditions. These two books appear to be precursors to Asher's other tales invoking the Owner. It will be interesting to see if that actually evolves. Since we ended Zero Point rather abruptly, I expect more to come (better be more!). For fans of epic and thought-provoking science fiction, I recommend this book and anything else Asher writes.
The story is not complicated, with three main POV's - Serena Galahad, the megalomaniac who takes control of Earth after Alan Saul almost bombed it back into the stone age in The Departure; Var Delex, the de facto leader of an isolated Mars base, Antares; and last, but not least, Alan Saul himself (or itself) on Argus Station, the space station that he 'hijacked' and used against the Committee.
Using the remants of the Committee's infrastructure, Serena Galahad ruthlessly destroys millions of ZA's (humans who had been classified as zero assets under that regime) via a mutated form of the Ebola virus (which she names the 'scourge'), nullifies all opposition with extreme prejudice, and in a scene that horrifies the reader, has her father tortured in the most appalling fashion.
Serena's one redeeming feature is her desire to repopulate the flora of Earth from a gene bank which happens to be on Argus Station, and, desiring to eliminate Saul anyway, she devises a plan to attack the station.
Meanwhile, Var (who wrested control of Antares base from the apparatchiks of the Committee during Saul's attack) is desperately trying to plan the survival of the base while managing the diverse fears and interests of the survivors. Var gets traitorously ambushed by one of the personnel on the base, and her fight for survival is an absorbing one.
Serena of course views those survivors as anathema and includes them in her elimination plans
Finally on Argus station, Alan Saul is gradually melding with the information network on the station, the robots are under his control and he gets to play with the coolest toys - quantum mechanics - in his push for an FTL drive.(I can't elaborate without revealing a spoiler or two)
Serena, who is the most fascinating character of the three (in the way that a tarantula or blue-ringed octopus is fascinating!)has a ship built which carries a wide array of weaponry and sends it off to Argus and Mars to fetch the gene bank and, not so incidentally, wreak mayhem and havoc. If space battle scenes are your thing - the battle at Argus station is a no holds barred humdinger!
All in all, a fun action packed read, which is what I have come to expect from Neal Asher. It is not James Joyce or DH Lawrence, (or even Tim Lebbon) but it is a highly entertaining read.
It's a world where front-line services in government are gone, replaced by a pointless and nihilistic bureaucracy. And it's starting at a council near you!