Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Book Review: Zero Point by Neal Asher

Zero point by Neal Asher

340 pages Nightshade books

Neal Asher is one of if not my favorite modern Science Fiction writers. This is my fourth Asher book, the second in a new trilogy which takes place in a different universe (The Owner Trilogy) from the majority of his novels (Polity universe). I read and reviewed the first book in this trilogy last year and spent alot of time commenting on the political nature of Asher's work. Asher and I don't share political views unlike most sci-fi writers Asher comes from the right side of the aisle (he is far from alone Ray Bradbury loved GW Bush after all). Despite radically different views and a political message I wasn't sure I agreed with I found a way to enjoy The Departure the first book because at it's core it's a neat story and wheather I agreed with it or not I was happy to see someone saying something deeper with a novel.

Zero Point picks up where Departure ended. The Argus Station , a huge space station was being used to kill Zero asset citizens in a wildly overpopulated earth of the future. Our main character Alan Saul has led an attack on the station fusing his mind and his dying body with the station and the army of robots at his command. He has stopped the murder and flung the station into deep space. Back on earth one of the few leaders he didn't kill manages to gain power and continue to kill off the population with a virus that kills billions and is blamed on Alan.

This is a dark, gritty and horror filled science fiction novel that blends action, battles, technology and political intrigue with a gee-whiz story. It is a really cool Science fiction novel. It builds on the Departure and has me interested in a third part.

To me this story is pure ecological horror, If I didn't know better I would think Asher was closer to the radical environmental camps, so it is a bit weird to see some a grim view of the future based on population issues put forward by someone who is not. In many ways this is a gonzo action take on John Brunner's territory. It is nothing like Stand on Zansibar in reality, but imagine if Brunner was super into battles and crazy spidergun androids and drone tech.

Is it Asher's best? no he has still yet to top The Skinner for me, but I have many more of his books to read before I can say for certain. Big Thumbs up from me.


Neal Asher said...

It just goes to show you that people's views are more complicated than often assumed, David. On CAGW like many of the so-called 'deniers' I disagree with the positive feedbacks (which are only found in the models). On population I hope Ehrlich is wrong, but took the view he was right for these books, since they are a dystopia (and having seen world population double in my lifetime I do wonder...). Politically I am not really on the right, because in my view right and left both head towards authoritarianism, and I am for less government control. I like capitalism and think we should try it some time, not the corporatism we have. Green issues are being used by governments and corporations to assert more control and extract money from the taxpayer. Yet I like the idea of recycling and I do it, probably more that most people. I'm angered by the commercial excessive use of plastic packing. I have solar panels on my house now too. If some efficient way could be found to store the energy from wind turbines I would be fine with them etc.

It is always so easy to turn those you consider to have the 'wrong politics' into parodies rather than see them as real people.

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