Monday, 2015-10-19

Dark Intelligence by Neal Asher

Asher for me occupies that niche of SF writers that I like to read but don’t atively seek out. He’s readable and has decent world-building chops but something about him doesn’t grab me. That said, I enjoy his hard-boiled prose and refreshingly nihilistic view of future society.

Said nihilism can shade into something like fascism, like in the near-future Owner trilogy, but in the far future Polity universe, where humanity is led by AIs anyway, it grates far less. In a sense, Asher is the anti-Banks.

The novel under discussion marks a return to the Polity, or rather its lawless border region with the over-the-top homicidal Pradors. These aliens, denoted as “utterly evil” by our protagonists, are neverless examined as actors in their own right, in another sign of Asher’s even-handedness. Life in the future may be nasty and brutish, but if you’ve got access to the right (or wrong!) technology, it’s reasonably long. Long enough for you to dwell on your mistakes or plan elaborate revenge.