Review – Gridlinked by Neal Asher

Posted: September 11, 2014 in Sci-Fi
Tags: , ,

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My blogging activity has slowed somewhat these last few weeks due to some fairly massive life changes. However, a holiday is now on the menu and with that comes the need for some awesome reading (although suitcase space was at a premium so I was lucky to sneak in all the books I did).

I’ve been wanting to read Neal Asher for a while as I’ve heard great things about his work. After reading up on his biography (cos I’m a geek who does that a lot with authors), I was even more intrigued. I decided to start with Gridlinked, the first Agent Cormac novel, and I’m pleased to report that I’m a happy camper. Check out the blurb below..

It’s not only humans that know the meaning of hate.

A technician passing through the runcible on Samarkand at a fraction below light speed causes a fusion explosion that kills thousands and obliterates a terraforming project. Earth Central sends agent Cormac to investigate.

Cormac must find a resolution without the support of the AI grid, for thirty years of being Gridlinked have left him devoid of humanity. But he does have the help of Shuriken, a throwing star with a mind of its own, as well as Golem combat androids and the ambivalently motivated ‘dracomen’. And he’ll need all the help he can get as he’s being tracked by a vicious psychopath, backed by augmented mercenaries and a killing machine called Mr Crane…

First published in 2001, Gridlinked was Neal Asher’s debut and there is a lot to like about it. It’s a universe in which humanity has spread throughout the stars thanks to Skaidon technology and the runcibles, making instantaneous travel across light years possible. Mental and physical augmentation are common place, longevity of life is up to hundreds of years and AIs govern everything. Clearly Asher’s creativity is abundant as Gridlinked hints at so many interesting aspects from the Polity itself to the boosted and augmented humans that populate it.

The novel begins with an accident that shouldn’t be possible and which is clearly suspicious. Enter stage right one very ruthless and logical agent Ian Cormac. One of Earth Central’s most prized agents, Cormac’s own journey not only requires him to solve the riddle of the exploding runcible and the alien intelligence behind it, as well as fending off the unrequited attention of a rebel leader and his psychotic pet of an android, but to also regain his own humanity.

It’s an interesting journey from an emotionless operator to a semi-suave, whiskey drinking agent. Asher handles all the threads brilliantly as Cormac becomes more human, his stalker Arian Pelter becomes less so. All of this action is sandwiched between and entwined with the greater mystery of the ‘Dragon’ and his weird games.

In the end, what we have is a hard sci-fi action thriller that, I feel, sits nicely alongside the likes of Ian M Banks and Richard K Morgan. It’s fast paced and action packed but with plenty of technical detail all wonderfully explained. Cormac is an intriguing character with a lot of scope and there is a host of enthralling details waiting to be explored. Asher has created a vast universe with his debut and I’m already set to start the next novel in the series. Happy camper indeed (although I must stress, I am not camping but instead am stuffing my face with my patented ‘holiday diet!).

My copy
Published by Tor

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