Tor, Apr 2003, 26.95, 426 pp.
A technician enters the runcible gate to star transport to the planet Samerkand, but something goes astray and his arrival ignites a nuclear explosion that kills at least ten thousand people. Earth Central Security legend Horace Blegg assigns his top gun veteran agent Ian Cormac to investigate the GRIDLINKED Samerkand disaster. Blegg also warns Cormac that his GRIDLINKED cybernetic implants that tie him into the AI network are destroying his brain. To save his mind he must delink, but can he survive without the technology he has relied on like a drug for three decades?
While Cormac struggles to adjust to an unplugged existence, he makes inquiries into the explosion. However, Arian Pelter and thugs working for him want Ian dead because Cormac killed his sister while working a separatist's case. As Cormac acts and reacts clumsily, Arian becomes self-assured that he will assassinate his enemy soon.
The technology is cleverly designed so that the reader can sense this futuristic galaxy has some unique gadgetry yet all the gizmos are interwoven into the terrific action-packed plot. The investigation subplot into whether an accident or sabotage occurred is exciting and hooks the reader even while the death count dramatically rises. However, the key to Neal Asher's fabulously complex science fiction is Cormac and Pelter whose cat and mouse contest makes for an engrossing and entertaining futuristic science fiction novel that runs at hyperspeed.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner
A man has come through the runcible on Samarkand at a fraction below light speed. His arrival has killed thousands and wrecked a terraforming project.The immortal Horace Blegg sends agent Cormac to investigate. Cormac must resolve things without the support of the AI grid, for his thirty years of being gridlinked has left him without humanity. He does have Shuriken, a throwing star with a mind of its own, the ambivalent dracomen, and Golem combat androids at his side. But Pelter, with his mercenaries and the killing machine Mr Crane, is on his trail.
Samarkand has descended into frigid cold and sabotage is uncovered. The prime suspect is unfortunately an alien that called itself ‘Dragon' and which had apparently destroyed itself twenty-seven years before the event. An alien artefact is uncovered and its monstrous guardian is a killer. How did both of these get where they were? Why was the runcible destroyed? Cormac is asking these questions when Dragon arrives and reveals that yet another alien is involved. Cormac must resolve all questions and decide who is lying. He must do this while hunted by Pelter and avoiding the ungentle attentions of Mr Crane. And in the end someone must be punished.
This report prepared by Neal Asher