Jupiter War (Owner Sequence #3) ★★★★★

jupiterwarThis review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Jupiter War
Series: Owner Sequence #3
Author: Neal Asher
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 350
Words: 139.5K

 

Synopsis:

Saul continues to upgrade the Argus station into an interstellar spaceship. He must deal with his sister who is jealous of Saul’s abilities but won’t admit it to herself, other scientists on board who have come to consider him near-omniscient to former Committee members who want to displace Saul and take over the ship and “be free”. While all of this internal conflict is happening, Saul must also deal with the continued threat presented by Serene Gallahad and her drive to recover the Gene Bank from him to restore the biosphere of Earth. This results in a battle out by Jupiter where Saul ends up destroying the two Committee ships but almost being destroyed in the process.

Gallahad continues to tighten her control of Earth and has become more powerful than ever. Unfortunately for her, several rogue elements working in tandem destroy her powerbase and leave her vulnerable. Her own bodyguard kills her and the lower level Committee members end up all working against each other, thus delaying Earth’s return to space for almost a century. This enables Saul to complete his upgrades and leave the Solar System.

 

My Thoughts:

I have enjoyed this re-read of the Owner Sequence so much more this time around than I did back in ’11-’13. I think a big part is that back then I was expecting it to be more tightly tied to Asher’s Polity universe and so my expectations were a bit different. Now that I know this isn’t another Polity spinoff, I can appreciate it for itself. It excels as an origin story for the Owner.

As my 5stars should indicate, I had a great time reading this. I’ve been trying to think how to adequately describe the action here. It still gets the ultra-violent tag but at the same time it wasn’t frenzied and frenetic. I never felt like I had run out of breath after the battles like I do in some books. That’s not a bad thing at all, mind you, just a quirk that stuck out to me.

The Proctors, the nigh-indestructable helpers of Saul, provide a sounding board for Saul to bounce ideas about human nature and freedom off of. While I wish they had been used more as ultimate Killing Machines, I can understand why Asher wrote them the way he did. They are supposed to help keep Saul from losing all touch with what’s left of his own humanity.

I know that Asher has written another Polity trilogy recently, which I plan on reading next (Rise of the Jain) but after re-reading this, I wouldn’t mind at all if he decided to write another Owner trilogy. I’d be even happier if he just wrote a book of short stories exclusively about the Owner and various adventures he has throughout space.

★★★★★

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Zero Point (Owner Sequence #2) ★★★★★

zeropoint (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Zero Point
Series: Owner Sequence #2
Author: Neal Asher
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 585
Words: 159K

 

Synopsis:

From Nealasher.fandom.com & Me

The billions of Zero Asset citizens of Earth are free from their sectors, free from the prospect of extermination from orbit, for Alan Saul has all but annihilated the Committee by dropping the Argus satellite laser network on it. The shepherds, spiderguns and razorbirds are somnolent, govnet is down and Inspectorate HQs are smoking craters. But power abhors a vacuum and, scrambling from the ruins, comes Serene Galahad. She must act before the remnants of Committee power are overrun by the masses. And she has the means.

Galahad was instrumental in implementing the ID chip technology. What nobody knows is that she inserted some code of her own that is a kill switch, a techno-ebola that kills within the hour. She activates it and kills all zero-asset citizens of the world, approximately 8 to 9 billion people. Dead, in an hour. She then uses it to kill off the remaining committee members who are a threat to her. She blames it all on Alan Saul, so as to unite the remaining 9 billion people on Earth under her control. Galahad’s goal is the regeneration of the biosphere and the limiting of the humans on Earth to under 5 billion. To do this though, she needs the genetic library that is only on the Argus Station. She puts full priority of finishing up a spaceship capable of taking out the Argus Station and sends it and 2000 loyal troops after Saul and the Station.

The Captain of the ship and his higher ups realize their lifespans are limited to Galahad receiving the genetic bank, so they rebel and once the loyal troops are off and attacking the Station, leave. Saul however, has figured out the code Galahad used with her techno-ebola and wipes the crew of the ship out so they can’t pose any kind of threat to him and the station again.

Var Delex knows that Earth will eventually reach out to Antares Base and, because of her position under Chairman Messina, knows that the warship the Alexander is still available. An even more immediate problem is Argus Station hurtling towards the red planet, with whomever, or whatever trashed Earth still aboard. Var must maintain her grip on power and find a way for them all to survive. Politics start becoming nasty and Var eventually is ambushed and left for dead. She survives long enough for Saul to pick her up on Mars.

As he firmly establishes his rule, Alan Saul delves into the secrets of Argus Station: the results of ghastly experiments in Humanoid Unit Development, a madman who may hold the keys to interstellar flight and research that might unlock eternity. But the agents of Earth are still determined to exact their vengeance, and the killing is not over.

2 clones, especially grown and trained, of the former Head of the Committee, try to assassinate Saul. They partially succeed and Saul is in a comatose state for months. During this time he activates the Proctors, nigh-indestructible constructs of flesh and metal and begins truly integrating his brain across the various vat grown brain material created for just this purpose.

Upon re-awakening, Saul fights off Galahad’s forces, rescues his sister and has a space station now capable of FTL. Alan Saul is now truly The Owner.

 

My Thoughts:

Man, this jumped up 2 stars from last time. It was the perfect book at the perfect time and just hit all the right beats for me.

Galahad releasing the Scour and wiping out billions of people? It was horrifyingly fascinating. I was sickened, disgusted and intrigued all at the same time. Galahad herself made for a great villain and I thoroughly enjoyed her as a character. She’s just plain crazy. So much so that she has her fathered tortured for months by a specialist because she tried to seduce her father when she was 15 and he (rightly) rejected it. She never forgave him for the rejection and that is why she has him tortured. I don’t know how much more messed up you can get!

Var, Alan Saul’s sister, and the whole Mars storyline continues to feel very “added so that future events will make sense”, if you can parse that. Saul’s recognition of her as his sister (remember, he had his memory wiped at the beginning of the first book) is a big component to him coming out of his coma and it gives the Argus station a place to go so as to allow the story to continue in our solar system.

The storyline on the Argus is rather sprawling. With Saul out of commission in any meaningful way for a large part of it, we get to see other characters come into their own, even while being guided by Saul’s ghost in the machine. The moment when the Proctors came online hit me like a freight train for some reason and I just did an arm pump in the air and hollered “oh yeah!”. And it’s not like they even went on a massive killing spree, they simply were there.

I am now really looking forward to the final book in the Owner Sequence.

★★★★★

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

The Departure (Owner Sequence #1) ★★★★☆

departure (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Departure
Series: Owner Sequence #1
Author: Neal Asher
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 569
Words: 154K

 

Synopsis:

Visible in the night sky the Argus Station, its twin smelting plants like glowing eyes, looks down on nightmare Earth. From Argus the Committee keep an oppressive control: citizens are watched by cams systems and political officers, it’s a world inhabited by shepherds, reader guns, razor birds and the brutal Inspectorate with its white tiled cells and pain inducers. Soon the Committee will have the power to edit human minds, but not yet, twelve billion human being need to die before Earth can be stabilized, but by turning large portions of Earth into concentration camps this is achievable, especially when the Argus satellite laser network comes fully online . . . This is the world Alan Saul wakes to in his crate on the conveyor to the Calais incinerator. How he got there he does not know, but he does remember the pain and the face of his interrogator. Informed by Janus, through the hardware implanted in his skull, about the world as it is now Saul is determined to destroy it, just as soon as he has found out who he was, and killed his interrogator.

Saul infiltrates a soon to be shut down branch of the committee and takes the identity of one of the lower executives. This is the first step towards infiltrating a much higher branch where the woman who implanted the hardware in his head resides. After successfully performing this, he and Hannah are on the run. She performs the next level of surgery on him, basically turning him into a human/ai hybrid. By this time Saul realizes there is no way to save the billions on Earth and decides that he is better off without humanity.

He hooks up with some revolutionaries, the leader of which has a similar bit of implant in his head. They’re goal is to get to the Argus Station. The Revoluionary’s goal is to crash the satellites the Station controls and the station, into Earth and wipe out every Committee Stronghold. Saul realizes his goal is to take over the Station and turn it into a mobile space fortress, ie, a spaceship. What neither of them know is that the Committee Member in charge of the Station has upgraded himself and become a human/ai hybrid as well. Agent Smith, errr, Committee Executive Smith destroys the Revolutionary Leader and Saul finds out Smith is planning a coup to take over the Committee and only allow select Committee Members onto the station while causing a massive dieback on Earth among its citizens.

Saul and Smith fight while the current President of the Committee and his pet Executives fly to the station as well. After a 3 way fight, Saul ups his game and becomes fully integrated with his implant, turning him into something not quite human anymore. Saul wins control of the Station and begins preparations to fly to Mars.

While all of this has been happening, the small colony on Mars has found out that they have been abandoned by the Committee. The Committee Executive in charge plans on killing almost everyone so he and his minions can survive the years necessary until the Committee on Earth can come back to Mars. Saul’s sister fights back and takes charge of the colony. The book ends with them seeing the Argus Space Station heading their way but without knowing it isn’t under Committee control.

 

My Thoughts:

I liked this a LOT more this time around. Last time I was really confused with how things started out and the jumps in the timeline. This time I knew it was coming, was prepared and enjoyed the ride.

I think this was the most violent of Asher’s books yet. It was gory and graphic AND the sheer body count was humongous. The Revolutionaries take out millions with nukes when they attack multiple Committee headquarters alone. Then you have Saul taking out people left and right or the Committee people committing atrocities to get at Saul. No matter how you slice it, or dice it, or blow it up, or generally kill it in some way or another, this was Violent, with a capital V.

While Asher’s Polity books tend to be pretty optimistic, at least in terms of humanity bootstrapping itself to a better future, the Owner Sequence is pure dystopia. With 18 billion people on Earth and no way to support them, even Saul gives up of trying to save them. He goes so far as to blame them for existing and calls humanity the manswarm, like they were some sort of plague of locusts. I won’t go so far as to say it was a refreshing change from Asher’s outlook in the Polity books, but the change was more inline with my outlook on basic humanity, ie, broken by sin. However, unlike Saul, who pretty much says “Sucks to be you, have fun dying”, I don’t give up on people, even if I don’t like them.

I am thankful that Asher didn’t try to write a series about the rise of the Committee but simply gave us the world with that as Fait Accompli. They were the perfect mix of Corrupted Power, Meddling Bureaucracy and Bumbling Idiot all rolled into one scary badguy mix. When a group is planning on killing 12 BILLION people with space lasers, you know they’re great bad guys!

Saul is not a “connect with the main character” kind of guy and if you’re looking for that, don’t bother reading this. He’s the gun AND the bullet that Asher uses to tell us the story. I wouldn’t want to read characters like him all the time but every once in a while I like someone like that, ie, competent beyond belief, totally focused on their goal and not emoting like an Emo. Kind of like mixing John Wick and Spock! Saul Sprwock perhaps? Hmm, sounds like someone speaking with their mouth full of chocolate pudding. Why chocolate you ask? Because I LIKE chocolate pudding.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Jupiter War (Owner #3) (Polity)

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Jupiter War

Owner #3

Author: Neal Asher

4 of 5 Stars (1 extra star for ultra-awesome violence)

 

Synopsis

Saul must turn “his” space station into a spaceship capable of interstellar flight to escape the powers of earth. All the while fending off those same powers who desperately want him back on earth for vengeance and the data and tech he now owns.

 

My Thoughts

This was really a 3star book. We get Saul transforming the station into the ship, chipped humans on the ship rebelling, Saul debating the true meaning of freewill, responsibility and freedom, Galahad having her delusions of grandeur even while the whole structure on earth is falling to pieces, and finally, we get fighting. And that is why I gave it 4 stars.

Asher knows how to write a gritty, awesome, massively bloody fight, in space and with ground troops. That is the main thing I read his books for, awesome ideas about humanity/tech and violence. He does them both so well.

I didn’t like Saul in the first book, and I still don’t like him here in the third, as a person. As the Owner, however, he makes a kickbutt demi-god.

While it appears obvious that Asher has more to write in the Owner series, I really hope he returns to the main Polity Universe soon and gives us new stuff there.

Zero Point

Zero PointZero Point

Owner #2

Neal Asher

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

 

I really wish I had read the Owner short stories before reading the first book, would have upped my enjoyment of things.

And since I’ve read them, I enjoyed this book a bit more. Seeing the Proctors come into being [even though it really felt very deus ex machina as to HOW they came into being], Saul’s plan to go somewhere else, the supersciences, the battles, the crazy earth lady. It all came together in one big ultra violent, messy shoot-em up masher.

Enjoyable.

Departure (Owner #1)

Departure

Owner #1

Neal Asher

3 Stars

 

Non-polity universe.
But blood and guts GALORE! I kind of found it over the top. And the whole mental “aha, I found a new trick that I can use until you figure out how to counter it” was used enough that it detracted from my enjoyment.

Would certainly not recommend as a first Neal Asher book. hardcore fans only.