To the remote planet Spatterjay come three travellers with very different missions. Janer is directed there by the hornet Hive-mind; Erlin comes to find the sea captain who can teach her to live; and Keech - dead for 700 years - has unfinished business with a notorious criminal.
Spatterjay is a watery world where the human population inhabits the safety of the Dome and only the quasi-immortal hoopers are safe outside amidst a fearful range of voracious life-forms. Somewhere out there is Spatterjay Hoop himself, and monitor Keech cannot rest until he can bring this legendary renegade to justice for atrocious crimes committed centuries ago during the Prador Wars.
Keech does not realise that Hoop's body is running free on an island wilderness, while his living head is confined in a box on an Old Captain's ships. Nor does he know that the most brutal Prador of all is about to pay a visit, intent on wiping out all evidence of his wartime atrocities. Which means major hell is about to erupt in this chaotic waterscape.
Listen to more in the Spatterjay series.
©2009 Neal Asher (P)2010 Audible
Plotting to take over the world since 1969
This was my first Neal Asher story; the authors style is very good, an interesting mix of science fiction, action adventure, space opera, humour, and horror.
The reader is also excellent, his wide range of voices is veery good. The choice of rural english accents may seem odd to american listeners but works very well. Sniper in particular is very well characterised.
The only real failure - as noted by other listeners - is the odd choice of the editor to not leave audible gaps when the character viewpoints change. Its not too distracting as it quickly becomes apparent, but still could do with changing.
This book has led me to listen go/read most of Neal Ashers novels. While they're not in any way mold breaking, they are ripping good yarns, entertaining, and with sufficient intellectual and emotional content to satisfy most readers.
I've now got to the end of the trilogy, and it has proved an interesting voyage. Personally I'd like to hear more of Sniper and 13 adventures, Mr Asher... more please!
The opposite of bravery is not cowardice but conformity. --Robert Anthony Contentment is, after all, simply refined indolence. --Thomas C.
This is not a space opera like many of Asher's works, instead it's largely confined to one planet. And there is no Cormac, although it takes place in the same universe. If you're a fan of his other Cormac works, why listen to this one? Well, for one, the droids are among the best ones he's written in any of his stories.
And despite being largely planet bound there is tons of action & great characters. Good listen & a great intro to the rest of the spatterjay trilogy!
audible listener!! :o)
I only wish that Neal Asher's Gridlinked books (written in the same universe but with different characters, although there is some overlap...) were also in audio.
For the uninitiated - Lots of AIs. Space travel through warping. Seriously funny & snarky writing. LOVE the characters. Spatterjay trilogy has very inventive life forms on the planet that are neat and drive the plot along. Highly recommended.
I will listen to NO boring book. Old Fav's,Card, King , Hobb. New Fav's, Hill, Scalzi, Sawyer, Interested in Lansdale, Crouch, Konrath
Spatterjay is mostly a water world. Almost every creature in the sea is deadly. The native humans, called hoopers, are almost immortal. They become immortal after one of the many leeches that inhabit the world bites them. The leeches fall from trees, swim in the ocean and can be as small as a bat or as large as a whale.
One of the main characters is a Zombie, he has been dead for 700 years. The book has leeches, sentient AI's, Supermen, a hive mind, a living head, a creature that acts as a sail for ships, rhinoworms, humans who are called blanks because they are mindless slaves to lobster like aliens called Pradors, a woman who lives in another woman's body, etc etc.
The action is constant and Asher's imagination is fantastic. There is lots and lots of gore. At the beginning of the book I was extremely excited and really thought I had found a new fantastic author. Toward the end I was getting worn out and was ready for the book to finish. I will be reading more of Asher's books, I just hope he shortens them a little.
As far as the production and the narrator, I was very disappointed. NA changes from one scene to another and then back again very quickly and often the scenes he is switching to have similar action going on, so I often got confused on what characters I was following. The narrator, who is following how the book is written, uses British accents, which combined with the changing scenes made it hard to follow. The zombie is actual called a reif, but they had to say reif about fifty times before I understood what he was saying.
If you like Card's book "Treason" or Harry Harrison's "West of Eden" or Koontz "Frankenstein" or "Moby Dick" you should like this book.
Enjoy the adventure
I can be easily tempted to listen to Sci-Fi which includes AI’s (artificial intelligence), exotic worlds populated by creatures that hunt and eat humans, and life or death battles using futuristic weapons. All included in “The Skinner”.
Echoing some reviews, I found the book hard to follow. Maybe, it was the editing which failed to provide clues that the scene had changed. Maybe, Neal Asher (author) included so many characters and subplots that I became confused. Or maybe, this is a book best read vs. heard. Whatever the reason, I frequently found myself re-listening to sections of the book.
This book is a very interesting mixture of good science fiction and biological theory. The story is not easily predictable and the characters are rich. There are a lot of concepts I have not seen in other sci fi.
Mr. Gaminara's range of voice and accent is wonderful. He is a great reader. I will buy other books that he has narrated without knowing much of about them because I'm sure that he improves the experience of the story.
I tried but just couldn't finish this book. I never became invested in the characters, the constant gore became distracting, and the narration was not great.
The narrator's regular voice was OK, but his interpretation of characters was poor.
The Skinner was a great story, happy to be moving on to Spatterjay, book 2, The Voyage of the Sable Keech. Many thanks to Neal Asher for this.
I'm almost done with this, but I just don't care anymore. It drags on forever. I gave up 5/6ths of the way through. Now I listen when I'm on my commute, finished with other titles and I haven't bought something new. And it still hasn't caught me. The narrator adds to the dullness . I've never written a review like this. Sorry to author Neal Asher, I'm sure he spent a lot of time on it, and there are imaginative ideas. As a package though, it's a bore.
One of the best so far. Great SF world, its environment, and a satisfying story. Reader distinguishes the characters and makes the conversations seamless.
"First class horror Sci-Fi"
This is my first Asher and as far as I'm concerned he's up there now in my top three for concept SF, along with Banks and Reynolds. However I have to agree with Thomas about the seamless transitions in the narration makling the plot difficult to follow. This is a shame as otherwise the reading is excellent, and I'm still giving five because the book is that good. It's a complex plot with a large number of characters so it helps to have a printed copy to refer to if you get confused. I'll be moving on to the other two volumes in the set and then...more Asher please, Audible!
"Adventures on Alien and Predatory High Seas"
An exciting and imaginative work set on a beautifully realized sea world swarming with many intriguing and dangerous creatures, some of which carry a virus that can prolong human life. Most of the planet is covered in water, with a smattering of tiny islands. The lords here are long-lived sailors and captains, strong and almost indestructible mutated humans, who sail on low-tech vessels harvesting the seas for various creatures and substances. A little bit Master and Commander, except that some of the sailors are female and some of the masts and sails are sentient creatures.
Three companions arrive on Spatterjay for different reasons and find themselves up to their necks in events, danger and trouble of many exotic kinds. The characters are fine, if a little remote - not as deeply explored as I might like - although I did become invested in what happpens to them. There are some very evil baddies, and some very dangerous creatures as well as viruses and other problems to be overcome. In spite of the relentless dangers, there are humorous moments and some of the best characters are non-human, from war drone to Wind-cheater, and laconic AIs. It's rollicking good fun and has some great gory set-pieces and battles.
William Gaminara's reading is perfect. He uses wonderful accents and voices to breathe life into all the characters and helps to add excitement to the unfolding adventures.
Overall this is an absorbing and enjoyable book, and especially engaging on the issue of how humans might deal with much longer lives. It makes things very interesting when much of the motivation is curiosity and the search to alleviate boredom. I will definitely be listening to book 2.
"Brilliant book from a great author"
Intelligent, funny, gruesome
I love the universe created by Neal Asher (alien nanotech, super-intelligent fatherly AIs, war machines with graveyard senses of humour, etc) and this book is a great addition to the collection with some neat ideas
All of it, his characterisation, particularly his relaxed northern drawl for a super intelligent, quietly psychotic war drone is brilliant
Here comes the BOOOM!
Can you please get more Neal Asher on to Audible
"Good but not quite there.."
As the story is very enjoyable and gripping I have given four stars. The characters in this book definitely stand up on their own and some I will look forward to hearing the back story or future escapades. The story is let down by some unconvincing actions that certain characters take as the story line develops being somewhat unbelievable. Another problem I personally had was the inevitability of the history of humans on spatter-jay and their attitude towards polity technology. Although there were attempts throughout the book to convince readers I feel the reasoning was pretty weak.
I would recommend the book to someone who likes Iain M Banks' books and hold high hopes for Ashers other work. All said, this is not one of my top 20 sci-fi books and I would not be using it to try and impress someone into the genre.
The performance by Gaminara is one of the best I have heard on Audible. I think that it is heavily let down by editing, there is virtually no pause to let you know that you have switched threads in the story making it hard to follow, usually this is where Gaminaras brilliant pallet of accents comes in to the rescue.
The skinner is the first Neal Asher book I read (and the one which launched my love of his writing). I was nervous about listening to a book I loved being read aloud but I got an equal amount of enjoyment from the experience.
The story has action, strange life forms, incredibly old beyond, kick ass war drones and doesn't stop until a satisfying end (leading nicely to the next book of the series).
If you like exciting Sci Fi, then this is definitely recommended.
Superbly read by William Gaminara, this book is engrossing from the first word, just as it was when I read it.
I am a huge Neal Asher fan and I think he is a far better sci-fi writer than the likes of Banks and Gibson. All his books are intelligent and yet still retain a sense of adventure so often missing these days.
What would make things perfect would be to have Gridlinked and the rest of the Ian Cormac books also with William narrating them. Oh, and then the Owner books please!
The most noticeable fault with this audiobook is that the cut between scenes are seamless, which makes it quite confusing. In the printed book I guess it is visually obvious when we enter a new scene, one second of silence would have done it for this audiobook. But the words are just flowing in a long stream broken into a few chapters, while the scene cuts can be counted in hundreds.
Apart from that the narrative is good, William Gaminara manages to make an entertaining difference between all of the characters in the book.
Neal Ashers story is well written, loaded with sensations and quite thrilling. But that's about all it is, I finished it two days ago and I have already forgotten the names of more than half of the characters. The name that will probably stick longest is "Sniper", which isn't even a person but a war drone. I guess that says it all about personality development throughout the book.
"Sci-fi on the high seas."
William Gaminara is absorbing and perfect for this book.
Partly why he worked for me because of not only the voices he uses but he also gives them accents – the sea captains remind me of gruff Scotts, the mercenaries as Africans – which you may feel is stereotyping but it’s more about encompassing character and attitude. And it adds texture. But an absorbing reader needs material is what Gaminara has to read at that really makes something worth listening to or not.
And the story of The Skinner is multifaceted to say the list. To start with you have Erlin, searching for an ancient sea captain who can teach her a meaning to life, Janer, bringing hornets and their Hive mind to Spatterjay, and Sable Keech, on a vendetta to avenge the events of the past.
Each of these three character are distinct in their backgrounds and their reasons for being on Spatterjay and their connections to the Polity universe. The Polity is an AI led technologically advanced society. Spatterjay is not part of the Polity but does fall under it’s protection and has it’s own warden AI, which is handy as the alien Prador are about to interfere in Spatterjay affairs.
Asher’s skill is not only in creation but using those ideas, even in a book that’s mostly about boats to look into the meaning of life and the potential for humanity as well as using some awesome weapons and technology.
"Great space opera, excellent narrator."
I like Neal Asher anyway and have most of his paper books. However William Gaminara is so good at bringing these works to life that I am buying them again on Audible.
"A great story complimented by a great reader"
I've been a huge fan of Iain M Banks for a long time, loved the early works of Jon Courtenay Grimwood, and read the hardcopy of Neal Asher's first full length published novel 'Gridlinked' years ago, not long after it's publication.
Somehow I then lost track of Neal, but fortunately rediscovered him via Audible. I've listened to The Skinner (Book 1), The Voyage of The Sable Keech (Book 2) and am currently a few chapters into Orbus (Book 3). I've listened to these back to back, unremittingly, and with great relish.
Over the years I've always been excited to learn of a favorite author's new work, and somehow 'losing touch' with Asher is great - all of a sudden I have a wealth of published material to enjoy en masse, rather then being drip-fed as novels are published. Of course now, as I'm engrossed in the third and final Spatterjay audiobook, I am hoping that Audible and Neal's publisher get together and publish more of Neal's back catalog in audio format.
So a few words about the series. Spatterjay is a very interesting place - from it's ecology, to it's early colonisation, to it's present situation on the edge of the Polity - all of these diverse influences come together through rich characterisations of visiting Polity humans (both alive and dead), Polity AI, Prador with dirty secrets that need to be forgotten, 700 year old virally-modified superhumans who can handle a sailing boat and bend steel, and my personal favorite, drones with Attitude.
I'm not talking about snotty Culture drones, replete with sarcasm and irony. No, I'm talking about 700 year old Polity War Drones with secret upgrades and a Northern accent. The type of Drone that says 'F*** me!' when it sees a Prador, or 'B******s!' when it doesn't believe a ship AI. If you thought Skaffen-Amtiskaw was cool, wait until you meet Sniper!
William Gaminara does a fabulous job on the reading, and has the characters down pat - he brings the books to life.
More Asher on Audible please!
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