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: Lockdown Tales Series: Polity #20 Author: Neal Asher Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars Genre: SF Pages: 329 Words: 151K
A collection of short stories about the Polity as it becomes the Post-Polity. This consists of:
The Relict Monitor Logan Bad Boy Plenty Dr Whip Raising Moloch
From what I could gather, the Polity didn’t collapse so much as it simply ceased to exist as the AI’s bootstrapped most of humanity up to their level and they all decided to stop playing government. The little clues make it seem like this all took less than 100,000 years. There’s no mention, that I can remember, of the newly raised Atheter or any mention of what happened to the Prador. While it all might have made sense in Asher’s head, to me it felt very “I’m bored with this particular literary construct, thus I’ll wave my authorial hand and …..”
Don’t get me wrong. Besides the first story where Asher lets his vitriol against religion take front and center, I enjoyed these stories. They all had his ultra-violence that I’ve come to expect from him as well as the techno-babble that I just skim over now.
What threw me for a loop was that these were not ALL post-Polity. Monitor Logan takes place squarely during the height of the Polity/Prador standoff and Bad Boy takes place on Spatterjay and involves a situation where the AI lets things run their course hoping the inhabitants will apply for Polity membership. It just made me feel like the secondary title on the cover What Comes After the Polity was misleading.
I think this might be a very good jumping on place for anyone new to the Polity. There are 19 previous Polity books and I can imagine it is daunting to a new person to figure out where they want to start.
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 & Bookype by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Human Series: Polity: Rise of the Jain #3 Author: Neal Asher Rating: 4 of 5 Stars Genre: SF Pages: 402 Words: 159.5K
Publishers Blurb and Me
A Jain warship has risen from the depths of space, emerging with a deadly grudge and a wealth of ancient yet lethal technology. It is determined to hunt down the alien Client, and will annihilate all those who stand in its way. So Orlandine must prepare humanity’s defense.
Both humanity and the Prador thought their ancient foe—the Jain—had perished in a past age. And they resolve to destroy these outliers at any cost. Orlandine wants the Client’s inside knowledge to act, but the Client has her own agenda. Earth Central therefore looks to the Prador for alliance, after the Jain destroy their fleet. However, not everyone is happy with this, and some will do anything to shatter this fragile coalition.
As the Jain warship makes its way across the galaxy, it seems unstoppable. Human and Prador forces alike struggle to withstand its devastating weaponry. Orlandine’s life work is to neutralize Jain technology, so if she can’t triumph, no one can.
Riker, the Hooper with Jain tech, takes on the Jain warship, believing that the only way to conquer the Jain is to subsume the ship. In the process, Riker becomes what he’s trying to subsume and he takes down Orlandine, now a Jain entity infesting an entire world. The Client was prepared for such an eventuality and prepared a weapon that the other Hooper, Cogulus, uses against Riker. It spreads out in a chain reaction, destroying all the jain connections.
The jain entity survives, but only its mostly dead body. It hides and begins building its strength for the millennia when the galaxy will have forgotten about it.
This was the longest book in the trilogy but Asher needed every page to wrap things up. I was concerned when I didn’t see a clear solution by the 75% mark. I was afraid he was going to pull some sort of shenanigans like some other authors, but thankfully, I shouldn’t have worried. And what’s more, the jain are still around to be the bogeyman if he ever needs it in the future. I like that.
The main reason this got a 4 star instead of higher, at least this time around, was because of Asher’s penchant to describe all the “stuff”. He really likes getting into the nitty gritty of what a starship looks like or how many and what kind of weapons it has and what they look like. And the techno-babble about communications and upgrades, etc, it was just a bit much for me this time around. I don’t think it was actually any more indepth than in previous books, but this time I just didn’t care.
The battles were awesome, as always. Asher has done a good job of keeping things interesting. There is always the danger of just making things bigger or badder or both but describing it in the same manner and thus losing your audience. I think he’s skirting that line in places but so far, I’m still interested. Part of that is the continued use of the Hoopers and the Spatterjay virus.
Now I have to wait for him to write some more, sigh. He’s written some standalone books before and I wouldn’t mind if he went that route for a couple of books instead of another trilogy. I guess only time will tell.
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 Warship Series: Polity: Rise of the Jain #2 Author: Neal Asher Rating: 4 of 5 Stars Genre: SF Pages: 350 Words: 138K
Cobbled Together from Various Places
Orlandine has destroyed the alien Jain super-soldier by deploying an actual black hole. And now that same weapon hoovers up clouds of lethal Jain technology, swarming within the deadly accretion disc’s event horizon. All seems just as she planned. Yet behind her back, forces incite rebellion on her home world, planning her assassination.
Earth Central, humanity’s ruling intelligence, knows Orlandine was tricked into releasing her weapon, and fears the Jain are behind it. The prador king knows this too – and both foes gather fleets of warships to surround the disc.
The alien Client is returning to the accretion disc to save the last of her kind, buried on a ship deep within it. She upgrades her vast weapons platform in preparation, and she’ll need it. Her nemesis also waits within the disc’s swirling dusts – and the Jain have committed genocide before.
When the Clade, a swarm AI, assassinates multiple nodes of Orlandine’s consciousness, the Polity and the bellicose alien Prador Kingdom are alarmed and send armadas to the Jaskoran system. On Jaskor, Clade units cause further mayhem as they employ war and assassin drones to battle the no-longer-human (but still sympathetic) Captain Trike, who’s been overcome and made monstrous by the Spatterjay virus. Meanwhile, in the vicinity of the accretion disc, something mysterious is emerging from Underspace, and the Polity fears it’s a Jain ship.
In the end, Orlandine survives, the Jaskoran system is declared a 3rd party “empire” by both Polity and AI, Trike embraces his Spatterjay/Jain transformation, the Clade are dead and a fully deranged Jain Warship has escaped into the galaxy.
So, here is what I am finding with Asher’s books. I enjoy them pretty well on the first read through. It doesn’t really wow me or leaving me desperately wanting to read the next one but I enjoy it immensely and don’t feel cheated in any way, ie, time or money. However, any re-reads seem to get me past a barrier and I REALLY enjoy the books. Weird huh?
That was just a roundabout way of saying that this book was pretty good and I enjoyed it, but not as much as my previous Polity reads. In fact, my enjoyment of this new trilogy is following the exact same footprint as when I read the Transformation trilogy (which dealt with the black AI Penny Royal). I fully expect to enjoy it more the next time I do a Polity re-read.
One thing I am really liking about this trilogy is the inclusion of Spatterjay Hooper Old Captains and Prador. This time around, we also get a Prador vessel that is akin in size and power to the Cable Hogue, a legendary Polity vessel that has appeared in earlier books. We get to see a lot more how the spatterjay virus has and is changing the Prador leadership and making them into beings able to at least work with the Polity. I would not be surprised if in later books the Polity and Prador became a united Entity against an outside threat.
I also enjoyed Orlandine’s downfall. Asher does a great job of showing that a fallible being doesn’t stop having blindspots just because they are/become more intelligent. But at the same time, her fall doesn’t destroy her. It was good to see her pick the pieces back up and start fighting again.
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 Soldier Series: Polity: Rise of the Jain #1 Author: Neal Asher Rating: 4 of 5 Stars Genre: SF Pages: 343 Words: 138K
In a far corner of space, on the very borders between humanity’s Polity worlds and the kingdom of the vicious crab-like prador, is an immediate threat to all sentient life: an accretion disc, a solar system designed by the long-dead Jain race and swarming with living technology powerful enough to destroy entire civilizations.
Neither the Polity or the prador want the other in full control of the disc, so they’ve placed an impartial third party in charge of the weapons platform guarding the technology from escaping into the galaxy: Orlandine, a part-human, part-AI haiman. She’s assisted by Dragon, a mysterious, spaceship-sized alien entity who has long been suspicious of Jain technology and who suspects the disc is a trap lying-in-wait.
Meanwhile, the android Angel is planning an attack on the Polity, and is searching for a terrible weapon to carry out his plans?a Jain super-soldier. But what exactly the super-soldier is, and what it could be used for if it fell into the wrong hands, will bring Angel and Orlandine’s missions to a head in a way that could forever change the balance of power in the Polity universe.
In The Soldier, British science fiction writer Neal Asher kicks off another Polity-based trilogy in signature fashion, concocting a mind-melting plot filled with far-future technology, lethal weaponry, and bizarre alien creations.
Whoowhee, another Polity trilogy to dig into!
I like that we’re getting another storyline from Orlandine. She is a character from the Agent Cormac series and was under-utilized? Well, a side character, so not under-utilized so much as just not the main presence, which makes sense. We also get a couple of Hooper Old Captains from Spatterjay, so the Spatterjay trilogy, while not 100% necessary to understand this, would make this a much better read. Cormac himself is mentioned, so once again, Asher is really tying this into his previous books.
I “think” my only complaint is the lack of what Asher calls a baseline humans, ie, you and me. If you can be bothered to track down a timeline of the Polity, which I can’t as I simply don’t care, I think this is several hundred years after even the Transformation trilogy with the rogue Black AI Penny Royal? Asher seems to deliberately not introduce a hard timeline, even though I’m sure he’s got one. 1 year, 1 decade, 1 century, eh, it is all the same. Anyway, by that time, I wonder if there are even such things as baseline humans. I wouldn’t think so, as they simply couldn’t live in a world with everyone else who is amped up in one way or another. The Separatists aren’t even heard from in this book, and they seemed to be the last sizable holdout against the improvement of humanity in terms of adding machineware to enhance everything.
I do feel like the title is a bit misleading. I was imagining a lone super Jane-soldier taking on the entire Polity and giving them a run for their money. While it does start out small, it quickly turns into a mile long ship size entity that is more intent on fulfilling its secret mission than on taking on the Polity. This trilogy is appearing to be more about revealing secrets of the Jain (and a possible schism that destroyed them) than anything. Whatever, I’m along for the ride!
We also get another alien introduced to us, the Client. It helped the Polity during the Polity/Prador War as the Prador had wiped out its homeworld and species. Turns out it is Jain based and now, with nudgings from Dragon, has pretty much gone exploring. What we don’t get is anything about the Atheter, who seemed to have a big part in the Transformation series. I figured they would turn into a threat, but I guess not.
I enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy as it rotates through my kindle.
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: Infinity Engine Series: Polity: Transformation #3 Author: Neal Asher Rating: 4 of 5 Stars Genre: SF Pages: 577 Format: Digital Edition
All the threads that Penny Royal has been weaving come together.
The Brockle confronts Penny Royal, assured that its upgraded self can handle anything. Until Penny Royal reveals just how powerful it has become and it throws the Brockle into a black hole, where the Brockle is eventually destroyed.
The Atheter gets off of its planet Masada and takes control of the Polity War Factory 101 and turns it into a Atheter space ship.
Thorvald Spear hooks up with a hot chick and has a ton of money so he’s supposedly taken care of. He also has a black diamond, which it is hinted might contain a part of the mind of Penny Royal.
Penny Royal itself transcends time and space and realizes that time is a loop of nothing but big bangs and heat deaths of the universe. The book ends with Penny Royal wondering if it can change that cycle.
I made the mistake of waiting almost 2 weeks to write this review. I really should have written it the day after I finished the book. I’ve already forgotten a ton of detail and honestly, the above synopsis is all I can remember of specifics.
I enjoyed my time reading this, hence the 4 stars, but something about Penny Royal has never really clicked with me. I was always more interested in the other characters, the pawn pieces as it were and with this book we don’t get quite as much about them because this is truly about Penny Royal.
While I enjoyed this, I don’t think I’ll be re-reading this particular sub-series again.
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: War Factory Series: Polity: Transformation #2 Author: Neal Asher Rating: 4 of 5 Stars Genre: SF Pages: 472 Format: Digital Edition
There are viewpoints from: Captain Blight and Crew, who Penny Royal the Black AI hitches rides with; Sverl the Prador who is turning into a human, prador and AI, Thorvald Spear who started out hunting down Penny Royal and now carries out its wishes; Cvorn the Prador who is trying to re-start the war between the Polity and the Prador Kingdom; Oberon the King of the Prador who seems to be a Spatterjay virus infected Prador who is trying to change his subjects so they can survive long term; and finally The Brockle, a forensic AI who pretty much tortures people and other AI who have committed crimes until the Polity gets what they want from the criminals, the Brockle considers Penny Royal to be the biggest criminal in the Polity to date.
Penny Royal seems to be trying to figure something out but nobody is sure exactly what that is. In the process it is fixing many of its past mistakes, most of which are included in the list of POV’s above.
The End Point is Room 101, a War Factory (hence the name of the book) from the war and the journey is getting everyone there at the proper time.
It has only been 3 years since I last read this but really, aside from from a couple of overall things, it was like reading a brand new book. It probably doesn’t help that the synopsis is so vague because of how many viewpoints there are that are interweaving for the whole book.
Speaking of viewpoints, Asher handled them like a champ. Unlike that rat custard Gwynne, I never got annoyed reading them during this book. When a view point would change, I never felt like I was leaving something undone and wanted to stay. Asher wove his story adroitly and expertly and I for one appreciated that.
The only real downside was that Asher once again delves into crustacean sex, like he did in one of his spatterjay books. I don’t know why he finds giant crabs doing it exciting, but he sure does. Doesn’t matter if it is used as a device to kill Cvorn later on, but having Cvorn cut off a younger crabs genitals, stitch them on himself and then use them to have sex for again for the first time in decades is just not something I really want to read about. However, it is unique. So if you are looking for a unique reading experience, you’ll get that here!
I did like how Asher delves into what is murder. Being an atheist, he approaches it from the complete cessation of existence. So a society that can recreate an entity if they’ve recorded themselves onto crystal has to decide what is murder. Asher, like many technologists of today, simply assumes that the brain and every biological part, CAN be recorded and that we are nothing but a collection of data. It doesn’t bother me because this is a universe in which AI exist. Throw in some dragons and the probability factor doesn’t actually change, if you know what I mean.
Half of the action was spaceship oriented, which isn’t my thing, but thankfully the other half was all groundpounder action. Now THAT is my thing.
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: Dark Intelligence Series: Polity: Transformation #1 Author: Neal Asher Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars Genre: SF Pages: 416 Format: Digital Edition
Thorvald Spear wakes up in a hospital. Which is odd, because he remembers being killed by a Polity AI named Penny Royal, almost 100 years ago, an AI that was supposed to be rescuing him and his men on a Prador occupied world. With his memory still a bit glitchy, Spear does know one thing for certain, Penny Royal must die.
Spear tracks down Penny Royal’s old spaceship. With the help of a powerful gangster named Isabel Satomi, who made a deal of her own with Penny Royal and is now regretting it, Spear plans on tracking Penny Royal down to whatever hidden lair it’s hiding in. With Satomi’s transformation having gone a bit further than anticipated (she’s turning into a hooder), Spear abandons her and sets out on his own.
Satomi wanted revenge on Penny Royal for the changes it started in her. But with Spear’s betrayal, she’ll happily kill him too. She heads to a world in the Graveyard (an area of space between the Polity and the Prador Kingdom where neither has an official presence) where she can gather her forces and pursue Spear and then Penny Royal. While on The Rock Pool, a world ruled by a prador named Sverl who also made a deal with Penny Royal, the other Prador revolt against Sverl and he is forced to help Satomi if either of them want to survive.
All during this time Penny Royal has been dancing around and through everything, apparently orchestrating “something”. It shows up at Masada, an apparent guest of the newly sentient Atheter. Both Spear and Satomi also show up at Masada. Satomi is now a complete biomech warmachine, like the Technician before its demise. With such a weapon, the Atheter can now claim full control of Masada and kick the Polity out.
Satomi’s consciousness is pulled from the hooder into a crystal memplant. Spear realizes he has been manipulated this whole time so Penny Royal can begin making good on all the bad things it did while a Black AI.
The only reason I didn’t give this 5 stars this time around was because there was a very awkward, unnecessary and completely gratuitous sex scene ¾ of the way through the book. Other than that, I loved this book, again.
It has only been about 4 years since I initially read this but that is something like 600 books ago, so this was a good refresher. I remembered some of the larger details but that didn’t in anyway detract from my enjoyment.
The first time I read this Penny Royal kind of came out of leftfield because I hadn’t been paying any attention to mentions of it in previous Polity books. On my re-read of the Polity, I paid more attention to that and now it is paying dividends.
Asher is not telling disconnected stories all set in his Polity universe. Each series builds on the previous ones but without turning into a Never Ending Series. Each series has a definite beginning and a definite end, as does each book. You have no idea how much I appreciate an author that still writes that way.
I would not recommend starting Asher’s Polity with this book. While you could, I guess, there is just too much in the background that you need to have read in his previous book for this to make sense.
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 Engineer Reconditioned Series: Polity #13 Author: Neal Asher Rating: 4 of 5 Stars Genre: SF Pages: 260 Format: Digital Edition
A collection of short stories from Asher’s Polity Universe, his Owner universe and some general SF shorts.
Really, my previous review still stands. Asher just unloads several times on anything “religious” and even in one of his intro’s to a story admits that’s exactly what he is doing. Makes me wonder why the vitriol. His wife hadn’t died yet, so it wasn’t like he was blaming God for that. In fact, now that his wife has passed on, I’ve noticed LESS bashing of religion in his books. Thankfully, I knew this was an element in this book so it didn’t shock me like it did the first time around. Scyenze is Asher’s god, he just won’t admit it.
I enjoyed the Owner stories a lot this time around as I now had the Owner trilogy under my literary belt. Did make me want to add them to my tbr. Once I finish up my Polity re-read, I’ll probably re-read the Owner books to tide me over until Asher’s Jain trilogy wraps up.
There was a story about the Hive (turns out Wasps are sentient creatures) and I have to admit I would like a trilogy about them at some point. I doubt it will happen and I’d be ok with just some more short stories, but since I’m wishing, a trilogy is what I want.
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 Gabble and Other Stories Series: Polity #12 Author: Neal Asher Rating: 5 of 5 Stars Genre: SF Pages: 384 Format: Digital Edition
A collection of short stories ranging all throughout Asher’s Polity Universe.
Several stories deal with the Gabbleducks, which we know are the deliberately devolved descendants of the Atheter. We also get one story about the Csorians, the 2nd alien lifeform wiped out by the jaintech; from how the story goes it appears that they won’t be making any reappearances in Asher’s writings any time soon. Another story has Penny Royal involved. Since Penny Royal got its own trilogy, I’ve been paying a lot more attention any time it is mentioned.
In my last review, The Technician, I mistakenly claimed that this book explained how the Atheter mem-crystal was found. That is not so. Instead, a bit of the original is used as bait in one story and that is how I got things messed up. The Technician should be #11 in the Polity series and this one the 12th.
I gave this 5stars this time around because of several reasons. One, I really do enjoy the short story format when there is a bunch of them all by one author. It really works for me. Two, I enjoyed this just as much as I did back in ’12, if not more. Third, I plan on enjoying this just as much when I re-read it yet again in another decade or so. Finally, I enjoyed this a ton of a lot more than I have the previous 3 SF books I’ve posted on the previous Fridays.
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 Technician Series: Polity #12 Author: Neal Asher Rating: 4 of 5 Stars Genre: SF Pages: 512 Format: Digital Edition
We the readers are returned to the world of Masada, introduced in the Agent Cormac books. Now that the Polity has “been invited in”, things are changing. One of the few surviving Proctors from the old regime was attacked by a hooder but not killed. This Hooder, known as the Technician, left something in the proctors head and the Polity wants to know what. The proctor goes on a crazy trip for about 20 years where he just sits as an invalid on a prison island until an AI decides that it has had enough. Things are orchestrated to start a chain of events to give the proctor back his memories and for the Polity to find out what was in his head.
The gabbleducks, the native life of Masada, are shown to be the devolved descendants of the space faring race the Atheter that went extinct millions of years ago. They commited race extinction after being exposed to Jain tech and left behind a machine whose sole job was to prevent them from ever regaining sapience again.
Now that the Polity has an Atheter AI, the gabbleducks and some unknown something inside the proctors head, all on the same planet, this machine awakens. There is a climactic showdown between it and the Technician and some top of the line Polity vessels. The proctor transfers his memories (or, the last living Atheter’s) memories to a gabbleduck and the AI wakes up. The Atheter appear to be on the rise.
We are also introduced to Penny Royal, a black AI. It was split into 8 parts and the 8th was excised, as it contained the psychotic bits. However, the AI Amistad kept that 8th part for study and during all of this Penny Royal gets its hands on the 8th part. It apparently destroys it.
I somehow messed up and read this before reading The Gabble and Other Stories, which introduces how the Polity found the Atheter AI and does a bit of setup for this book. However, Asher does enough fill in for the reader that it isn’t strictly necessary to have read that book first. It just would have been nicer.
Ok, first. Asher is in fine form with his bashing of religion and returning to the world of Masada allows him free reign to setup strawmen that he not only knocks down, but pretty much uses a flamethrower on. I’ve stated it before, but Asher’s god is Scyenze and he’s as vitriolic and mocking as any old high priest you could think of. That was pretty much why this stayed at a 4star rating like the last time I read it. If it wasn’t for that, this would have been approaching 5star easily.
This was AWESOME. Splatterpunk space opera at its finest. The proctor gets his face eaten off by the Technician and then gets a prosthetic from the Polity medical team later. On his journey he CUTS HIS OWN FACE OFF AGAIN because he hates the Polity so much. I’m sorry, but how can you not love that?!?
The introduction of Penny Royal was good on this re-read. It is a side character and so when I read this the first time it didn’t even register when Asher ended up writing a whole trilogy about it. Now that I’ve read that trilogy, seeing its introduction is pretty cool.
The human side was done just as well. The proctor, with his mix of literary attendants both for and against, makes for a great survival story. Between the planet and the wildlife and the Tidy Squad (a group that hunts down the former regime) and then the Polity forces, you get a full range of interaction.
Asher does good work on single novels. I won’t call this a standalone because knowledge of the Polity and Masada is pretty vital to really understand it but I think someone “could” read this and figure out what they needed. I’m pretty pleased with this read through.