Dystopian in the extreme, The Departure chronicles one man's brave attempt to save Earth from an oppressive bureaucracy bent on a catastrophic plan to winnow the planet’s population. Chilling and remote, this listen is best for fans of hard sci-fi who like plenty of action alongside detailed description of plot points, and political digressions of the Ayn Rand variety. Performers Steve West and John Mawson bring a cool, precise feeling to the story, which is well-suited to the author’s dark and harrowing vision.
The Argus Space Station looks down on a nightmarish Earth. And from this safe distance, the Committee enforces its despotic rule. There are too many people and too few resources, and they need 12 billion to die before Earth can be stabilised. So corruption is rife, people starve, and the poor are policed by mechanised overseers and identity-reader guns. Citizens already fear the brutal Inspectorate with its pain inducers. But to reach its goals, the Committee will unleash satellite laser weaponry, taking carnage to a new level.
This is the world Alan Saul wakes to, travelling in a crate destined for the Calais incinerator. How he got there he doesn't know, but he remembers pain and his tormentor's face. He also has company: Janus, a rogue intelligence inhabiting forbidden hardware in his skull. As Janus shows Saul an Earth stripped of hope, he resolves to annihilate the Committee and their regime... once he's discovered who he was, and killed his interrogator.
©2013 Neal Asher (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
After listening to Neal Asher's Spatterjay series I frequently check to see if any of his other works have been released.
Finally to my great satisfaction this showed up in my search results.
This is a revenge story where the Earth itself shakes at one man's fury. I can't really say much else about the plot without spoilers.
You'll notice the book has two narrators. Don't fret though, one of them only reads the intro's to each chapter in a documentary style diction. The other brings the story to life.
I think the worst part of this book is knowing you're going to have to wait for the rest of the series.
I'm a Hard SF & Space Opera-loving, alien android from the future. I bring gifts of SciFi eBooks & accessories for your leader's Kindle. Take me to him/her/it.
No one can drive home the lethality of warfare in space like Asher; he seems to take a sadistic pleasure in the hyper-violent, extremely-detailed, slow-motion linguistic dissection of his fodder characters. And yet, we his readers will keep lining up for more! In this novel, the first of new series centering on a character who comes to call himself 'The Owner', Humanity has come under the tyranny of an elitist world government headed by 'The Committee', and we follow the stories of two individuals who stand up to that oppression. The Committee is an over-the-top caricature of every evil regime since Huxley's "Brave New World", complete with euphemistic propaganda machines, jack-booted secret police who institute casual genocide, near-complete population surveillance, and their own version of George Lucas' Death Star under construction. It is personified by two ruthless facility directors who separately come to be challenged by our two protagonists, and subsequently revealed to be pathologically murderers. It is frequently gratifying to read, in our heroes' march toward vengeance, the ensuing bloodletting and near-pornographic violence against persons and property, but only if one isn't expecting any profound themes or lessons behind it. The only one you'll find can probably be seen by page five: Oppression of the masses by the elite is bad. The story is at its strongest when its protagonists are at their weakest; nearly destroyed and facing certain defeat, and yet manage to cleverly outwit their predicament. For those readers who join me in a personal taste for more alien locales & life in their SF, I would instead point you to Asher's "Polity" series, but for those who are looking for some escapism set in a closer future and limited to strictly human cultures, you have no further to look!
Neal Asher's The Departure which is the 1st installment in the Owner trilogy, is a frightening realistic dystopic future vision of what may be the eventual outcome of the culmination of a digitally interconnected world that is both powerfully intrusive into individual lives, while at the same time, substantially vulnerable to abuse and corruption. Asher paints a terrifying scenario of a future with a fragile society where the bulk of humanity, referred to a "zero assets" (ZAs) offers nothing of value to an oligarchic government that is seeking a final solution for a sustainable future with their retention of total societal control. Into this mix comes a former genius, since discarded by the power elites, who is both mentally damaged, but also digitally enhanced to challenge the current regime. At the same time,a power struggle for survival is occurring in the fledgling Mars colony that was put on hold, while the Earth issues are sorted out.
The sci-fi elements are pure Asher with the primitive beginnings of artificial intelligence (AI) beginning to emerge and assert itself. There is much in the way of human machine interface that telegraphs Asher's long term perspective on the AI ascendancy. While the space elements are futuristic (a Mars colony, a massive orbital space station, military style laser satellites, etc.), there is nothing overly remarkable or imaginative about their design or utilization. At its heart, this is a tale of prophecy of the potential perils and pitfalls of civilization's expectations for a risk-less and careful future by turning over personal responsibilities to machines and a select group of fallible humans.
The narration is superb with an excellent range of voices, solid pacing, and a tone that perfectly aligns with the delicate, yet tense nature of the action.
The world created in this book is pretty interesting, but not enough to warrant reading/finishing this series.
By around halfway through the book I found myself wondering why I should continue listening, who I was supposed to care about, and why the author thought I would care about anyone.
The book also had a few problems translating into audiobook. There are many places where the point of view shifts from one character to another, leaving me thinking "that character couldn't possibly know that." After a few of these I realized that, in the written form, there must have been some kind of break to indicate that the author had changed points of view, but it contributed to my feeling that this book was poorly written. Different actors/voices would have alleviated this confusion for me.
For what it is worth, I will not be continuing on with this series, nor recommending this to anyone.
These are the kinds of books I do recommend:
The Martian by Andy Weir
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
The Dog Stars by Peter Heller
I am usually pretty charitable with my entertainment, be it movies, TV, books, or what have you, and I very rarely write reviews on here, but this one annoyed me to the point where I not only stopped listening a few hours in, but felt compelled to warn others off.
Firstly, the comically evil UN-turned-New World-Order that serves as the overarching protagonist in this book just really left me unable to suspend my disbelief and the incessant Nazi references made wonder exactly how much time this author spends watching The History Channel late at night. Most of the characters served as little more than set pieces, and even the protagonist was shallow and undefined. The author couldn't even make us understand this world he was imagining without intermittent speculative future-history lessons thrown in that were written as if in a textbook or something. I kept having to skip backward because my mind was wondering due to my inability to become at all invested in any of the characters or plot points. There was no way I was going to slog through 14+ hours of this crap.
The narration was pretty good though. So there's that... Ugh...
My taste differs from kid books to gory horror books.
I was expecting something like Skinner. I got Stainless Steel Rat meets Necromancer, meets 1984. The only one more bored then me was the narrator.
Unfortunately, Neal has become a myopic whiny political zealot trying to force feed ideology - the same as the villains in his earlier books. There is no enjoyment or wonder in the writing anymore, only snarky hate at his political opponents. No more science, only political pot shots with some technology thrown just to make sure the story is classified as sci fi. Besides the advanced technology, the little science it references is questionable if not wrong.
Neal always did a mediocre job with character development but made up for it with stories of competing technology and questions about the direction of progress and what it means to live in an unrestricted post wealth multi planet society. Now it is just mediocre character development and strict ideology preached rather than explored with an open mind.
I was heart broken that this book was unreadable. but that's life I guess. he can write what he wants
I think I have a bit of an addiction to audio books. So, if you have extra credits, I will gladly take them off your hands.
I found the pre-chapter narration a real compliment to the chapter and an interesting addition to the story.
there were a few moments of " ok I get it... the bad guy had one more truck up his sleeve. but enough already" however the story didn't get too bogged down by these blips. I think there were 4 if these excessively drawn out duels.
anywhoo I recommend it.
Aging Gen-Xer. Umpteenth generation Southerner. IT professional. Devourer of audiobooks.
Too much "Deus ex machina". Still, enjoyable in a average manner. I won't ask for my credits back but I would recommend you find one of the thousands of better authors out there before you dredge the middle of the "acceptable" barrel.
One complaint is that this and the second in the "series" are really one book. For a book to truly be one of a series, at least when said books are written by real writers and not hacks, there must be at the minimum, some kind of proper ending. Nope, not here. Be prepared to buy the second one if you want closure.
Asher starts off very well, indeed he went up in my estimation because of those first 100 pages. Asher's typical smash it up comes on strong in the latter half but this book could have been a bit shorter. i have read nearly everything he's written and he gets better with practice, in general his books have increased in skill over the years. however I will always prefer the Banks, Reynolds and Hamiltons more. that does not mean I dislike Asher, but there is something about his earlier sci-fi that turned me off. still I've read everything and he does a good job of bringing the story into interesting places. this book represents a new style for him. another reader commented that this was more like Richard Morgan. i agree, for those first 150 pages, afterwards the monsterama tries to kick in but without any alien creatures or dangerous million years old nano tech to do it with bee is left with robots... very cool and deadly sounding robots mind you.
all in all this book delivered a good yarn and I'll read the other two.
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