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on 23 September 2011
I have to agree with some of the critical reviews already posted. Having read almost everything published by Neal already, and being a big fan of the Spatterjay series I was looking forward to seeing what he'd create with a 'fresh start'.

Unfortunately, in my opinion this book is not very good at all. I'm maybe 70% through it at the moment and in all honesty am finding it a bit of a chore to continue - something that I've never experienced with any of the previous books.

There is little to no characterisation at all. Nor do the characters themselves seem to have any internal consistency - Saul flip/flops from being some super-potent cyborg to staring dreamily at the (one dimensional) female character and musing about his lack of humanity. Sure, there is no let up in the action but that seems poorly constructed and plotted - there's no build-up of suspense and characters seemingly just run around to the next set piece.

I'm sorry to say this, but to me the book almost doesn't feel like a 'normal' Asher book - the writing style is so far removed from previous novels.

Will I continue reading it to the end - of course. Will I be waiting in anticipation for the next installment? It seems unlikely at the moment....
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on 19 October 2011
I thoroughly enjoyed this book even if it's not one of Neal Asher's best.
The action is as brutal and visceral (literally) as Asher usually writes. He does "rant" somewhat, but it's railing against a totalitarian state like a futuristic DDR, a Cambodia under Khmer Rouge or a NAZI state. Calling that "far right wing" is very telling of the people spouting these claims. I'd think most people wouldn't want to live in a society like that?

It's obvious that the writers of the 1-star reviews are readers with left leaning attitudes, who for some reason feel targeted by a - in my opinion rather astute - rant against evil suppresive totalitarian big brother states and what motivates the people involved. Maybe because the reviewers agree with some of the ideals of said regime, as twisted as they are?

Anyway, people shouldn't review books by how their political opinions are challenged, but on how entertaining the book is.

I recommend reading this book with an open mind and trying not to fall into the very easy temptation to dismiss it because you don't like the implications it raises...
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on 9 September 2011
Mr Asher has left the Polity universe and set his umbrage with corporate attitutes and socialist ideals on to paper in an obstensibly futuristic envirnoment, a Blade Runner-lite world where people are either straving or like to wear grey and sign off on the deaths of millions before breakfast. Whilst his Polity books were fun; laugh-out-loud humour, immensely imaginative and throughly good reads, his new book is outright depressing. Simplifying current perceptions, mis-conceptions and myths of coporate culture and marrying them (perhaps as a frustrated cry against New Labour's ideas and the pro-EU brigade here in the UK) to socilaist principles to create an overly-simplified world whereby everyone bar a lucky few are destitute. Trying to take on such a big topic as a world society with so many parallels to today's problems is the wrong direction for this author and this sub-genre within sci-fi. Tolkien could have pulled it off, but his allegories were very subtle and sophisticated and he belongs to a different genre. On the one hand the World Government is wasteful of resources and is drowning under the weight of administration and yet is suddenly adaptable enough to employ cutting-edge hackers to counter the underground internet, the last redoubt of free speech. The Mars link is pointless, it's not even light relief against the quagmire of despair that is future Earth. I like Neal Asher's books, he's a good author, his Polity universe is excellent entertainment. This new series looks set to bolster corporate anti-depressant manufacturer's share value as we glimpse a future of no hope, no happiness and a nice fashion line of grey clothes. Please bring back your entertaining side Mr Asher, leave the depressing fiction to the Booker Awards wannabies.
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on 17 March 2015
great sci-fi
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on 20 June 2012
I only discovered Neal Asher late last summer, but since then I have read all his novels and most of his short stories. I have got to say that I loved this book and its take on where current global events and believable near future events may be taking us. I loved the scenes of 'informational warfare' and I thought the two parallel stories (Mars and Earth) came together quite nicely.

A lot of Neal's stories include versions of present date 'cutting edge' technology and I believe that he keeps abreast of the latest scientific breakthroughs to keep his books up to date. This, I feel, keeps his books more believable than perhaps some other authors. Of course, some books are better than others - this will always be the case - but I have not yet picked up a Neal Asher book that I have failed to enjoy. In any case, I learned long ago to not to place too much emphasis on book reviews when buying a book. In general, a good author with a proven track record and the support of his publisher will, more often than not, produce a good book.

I can't wait until the second book comes out on 2 August to see how Saul's character further evolves and also to see how his character interacts with Vars. Keep up the good work, Neal, and ignore the knockers!
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on 11 March 2012
I'm a big Neal Asher fan and really enjoy his Polity novels but I was excited to see that he had ventured into new 'Universe' for this novel that is based in the near-distant future. It is not a happy view of the future and has what you could describe as a political side to it but ultimately I found it hard to fault Asher's future that is essentially the potential consequences of all the things we can see don't work in our world today and that we are not addressing or plain ignoring, taken to their conclusions. Foremost of which are overpopulation, unelected dysfunctional world governments, the challenges of non-contributing citizens and how our view of personal freedoms would change when the living situation changes from our comfortable 21st century lives.

As usual Asher makes the ride exciting and full of great Sci-Fi twists and turns. I always think he has a cinematic style to his writing and is so quick in creating an image in my mind of the world the characters live in and each place they visit. He's one of the best Sci-Fi writers around today.

Overall a really great read that I enjoyed reading and thought about while I wasn't reading it.
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on 19 May 2015
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on 18 July 2012
I am a long-time reader of Asher and enjoyed the Polity / Spatterjay novels. Even the novellas offered a level of quality aover and above the normal sci-fi fare.

I think an earlier reviewer posed the theory of is this an earlier or discarded piece of work and I do wonder whether this is the case. It simply does not compare to his previous work.

The basic idea of of a dysopian future with evil and uncaring elite is not a new one neither is the psi-power interfacing with technology(done much better elesewhere - step forward Alastair Reynolds - Inhititors trilogy).

It's not that this is a terrible novel is just that it's not very good. I'll not go over the many flaws around the basic narraitve and lack of character development these have been discussed at length by other reviewers.

As a fan I hope this is a blip rather than the end of a very creative writer.

Fingers crossed.
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on 8 January 2013
The Departure is grim, gritty, shooty shooty stabby stabby and very little else. I didn't find any ideas to compare to his past output - this is the guy responsible for Spatterjay's nightmarish ecosystem and the terrifying Prador after all.

Reading the Kindle edition, 50 pages in I actually checked to see I was reading a Neal Asher book. A huge disappointment, and not the kind of departure I hoped for.
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on 28 September 2015
I own it
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