The Theocracy has been dead for 20 years, and the Polity rules on Masada - but it is an order that the rebels of the Tidy Squad cannot accept, and the iconic Jeremiah Tombs is top of their hitlist. Tombs, meanwhile, has escaped his sanatorium. His insanity must be cured, because the near-mythical hooder, called "the Technician", that attacked him all those years ago, did something to his mind even the AIs fail to understand. Tombs might possess information about the suicide of an entire alien race. It's up to the war drone Amistad to discover this information, with the help of an ex-rebel Commander, the black AI Penny Royal and the amphidapt Chanter. Meanwhile, in deep space, the mechanism the Atheter used to reduce themselves to animals stirs from slumber and begins to power-up its weapons....
©2010 Neal Asher (P)2014 Audible Inc.
Neal Ascher's The Technician, while a standalone story, is set in his "Polity" universe. The main tale takes place on Masada, a minor planet, 20 year after the overthrow of a theocractically controlled society. Humans are somewhat of a minor player as the galactic political structure is dominated by a wide diverse set of AIs. Masada is also the former home world of an extinct intelligent alien species that committed racial genocide. The explanation for this is part of the plot of the story. There's a good mix of petty human vengeful actions as well as planet destructive forces against a backdrop of solving the mystery of a strange creature who spared the life of a single human while inducing insanity.
The sci-fi elements are varied and consistent with a time frame in the distant future. Artificial intelligence dominates throughout. Unusual, but well crafted human genetic adaptations are flawlessly inserted without disrupting the flow. There is also an internally consistent presentation of the unique biological constructs and evolutionary principles present on Masada.
The narration is superbly done with an excellent range of voices aligned with the mood and pacing of the story. Overall, this is a hard listen and requires close attention not only to follow a complex storyline, but to also appreciate the well designed and integrated sci-fi aspects.
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