Mysterious aliens...ruthless terrorists...androids with attitude...genetic manipulation...punch-ups with lasers...giant spaceships...what more do you want? A collection by the author of Gridlinked, The Skinner, In the Line of Polity, Cowl, Brass Man, and The Voyage of the Sable Keech.
©2006 Neal Asher (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
"Asher will definitely appeal to connoisseurs of sophisticated adventure-oriented science fiction." (Publishers Weekly)
"Readers with a taste for dense, high-concept science fiction will find much to admire in Neal Asher." (The Washington Post)
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.
This creative collection of short stories by Neal Asher will provide an excellent introduction to his work for those unfamiliar with it, as the standalone stories cover his favorite themes and strengths: high-intensity action, richly described alien biologies, villainous religious cults, and much violence. Returning readers will also be rewarded by references and tie-ins to his other future histories, The Polity, and The Owner universes.
The title novella, 'The Engineer', deserves special attention due to its length and polish. A Polity story, it tells of the discovery of an ancient alien escape pod by a science vessel who manage to revive the advanced being within. News of the discovery brings attention from various factions and soon a classic Asher full-scale conflict erupts. I was a little surprised by the altruism and bio-centric technology of the Jain alien in this story, having only the example from Asher's "Orbus" novel to compare with, but as is clearly shown with the various human factions in the Polity stories, species and societies are more diverse that any single specimen would illustrate.
The three "Owner" stories shared a common plot device for their climaxes, so I won't spoil them with a description, other than to say I would have appreciated a more varied 'reveal' in the stories chosen to accompany one another in a collection. Taken individually, all three are thrilling and wholly engaging stories that bring a low-tech fantasy element to Asher's SF which I hadn't seen before.
My favorite story in the collection, "Spatterjay" is probably the most dependent on a familiarity with Asher's other novels, in this case the Polity trilogy of the same title, as it deals with a setting and characters so vividly colorful that they are difficult to absorb in so few pages. It serves as a prequel to those novels, and even more so than any of the other stories in the collection it brings some wild alien biology to life for the reader- a whole ecology in fact!
The other five stories here each have interesting aspects, but can be grouped and summarized by saying they revolve around unique alien biological oddities which are expanded and extrapolated into skeletons on which to hang a brief story. Interpersonal drama, tension, and subtlety are not really to be found here, but imaginative and intense moments of action will make them memorable for most readers, I believe.
My preference for a good story is something totally unusual and not run of the mill stuff. Give me something I haven't heard before.
There were several stories in this book. The first story was interesting more than the others. In most of the stories I didn't feel much of a connection. The stories were OK but didn't have enough meat to carry them thru.
As with every Neal Asher book, this is completely marvellous from start to finish. His short stories are always readable and give us extra insight into life in the Polity. Others are stand-alone and we are even treated to an Owner story.
My only complaint is that I don't understand why an American reader was chosed for this, as the books are written by a British author. Having to listen to Todd McLaren call Golem 'Gollums' is incredibly irritating, amongst many instances. If the wonderful William Gaminara was not available, were there not other British readers who would have done almost as well?
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