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 eve..Show More »ntual 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.
Neal Asher's Zero Point, book 2 of the Owner trilogy picks up immediately where book 1 left off. Saul and Argus station are heading to Mars to reconne..Show More »ct with his sister. In the shattered ruins of the Committee oligarchy, a surviving delegate, Serene Galahad executes her previously designed coup, by activating individual biochips to release an Ebola like disease that kills nearly half of Earth's population and most zero asset citizens, then she conveniently blames this on Alan Saul. With Saul in possession of the Earth's biobank data on extinct flora and fauna, she mounts a mission to retrieve the data and bring Saul to justice. At the same time, she institutes an even more ruthless and arbitrary totalitarian rule over Earth. Saul meanwhile continues his plans for transforming Argus space station, while Var on Mars is trying to triangulate between possible Earth and/or Argus attacks. The historical text interludes beginning each chapter do a wonderful job of detailing the societal stimuli driving this dystopic future that resembles "1984" for a digital age.
The action is nonstop, riveting, and daring with unexpected twists that slowly reveals the grand strategy Asher is unfolding. For sci-fi elements, Asher hints at the earliest implementation of artificial intelligence, the human / computer interface grows stronger. Robotics plays a key role. Finally, the Alcubbiere warp drive concept is developed along with other exotic matter based weaponry for future battle scenarios.
The narration is outstanding with a fantastic range of voices given the varied characters. The pace, tone, and mood make for a can't stop listening experience. While an action oriented thriller, this tale seriously explores the contradictions and limitations of humanity along with the possibilities for an evolutionary stage beyond human.
Jupiter War is Neal Asher final volume of his Owner Trilogy. At the end of book 2, Saul was heading to Mars to rescue his sister after having defeated..Show More » the Scourge which is limping home with a minimal crew consisting of those who had removed their ID chips. At the same time, he is continuing his evolution to a form beyond human that even he is struggling to understand. Serene Galahad still has Saul in her sights as she slowly works to rebuild Earth which is in a more capable and productive position with much of the population eliminated. As Serene continues to expand her totalitarian rule of Earth, she is driven by a vengeance towards Saul which drives technological development, while at the same time, a desire to return Earth to a more pure and pristine state, free of humanity. Both Saul and Serene must also deal with loyal and not so loyal opposition to their reigns.
The sci-fi elements are more of the same as the Alcubierre faster than light drive technology is further exploited by both sides. Robotics play an ever increasing role with a level of sophistication through simplification. Ultimately this is a tale of one man's struggles to evolve beyond human. While Saul doesn't know where he's going, he knows remaining in the solar system is not viable. Along the way, Asher juxtaposes Saul with the various female leads (Hanna, Var, Serene, & the Saberhagan twins) to contrast the various iterations of being human which he finds wanting and limiting in the end. The proctors also evolve into a group of apostle-like followers that Saul can relate to better than humans.
The narration is wonderfully superb making this a can't put down listen. The pace, tone, and mood are perfectly rendered for effortless enjoyment.