Top positive review
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Watch your step...and your back!
on 26 November 2001
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.