Postcards From a Dying World
News, views, book reviews and commentary from the Science Fiction and Horror fiction underground. Home of the Wonderland award nominated author of Vegan Revolution...With Zombies and Boot Boys of the Wolf Reich.
Sunday, July 29, 2018
Book Review: The Soldier by Neal Asher.
The Soldier by Neal Asher
Hardcover, 375 pages
Published May 15th 2018 by Night Shade Books
Neal Asher wrote one of my favorite sci-fi novels, that happens to take place in this larger universe. That novel The Skinner is to me an absolute classic. I am not even close to having read all the books by Asher or in this series but when I saw this book had just come out and was the start of a new trilogy I was excited to give it a shot.
While this is a new trilogy it takes place in the larger canon of Asher's work. The Polity, is the far future civilization of humanity, who are controlled by a central AI. Most humans are at least partly enhanced, so this novel is dominated by trans-human cyborgs and AI. In the Polity, this civilization has long been at war with crab creatures known as the Prador. Having read several novels and stories set in the Polity I can't say how this book stands alone.
This is space opera, but it is really intensely weird space opera with not really any characters that look or act like people in a recognizable sense. This is a very different barely human race, machines and crab like creatures.I can say even though I have read books in this universe before I constantly flipping back to the glossary that is REALLY NEEDED for this book. It is not just the characters and cultures, but some of the weird technology I would forget what something was and would flip forward.
This was not a turn-off to me but I could see how some readers would not like to have to do that. I am sure Asher's books could be confusing to some readers. I for one enjoy how bananas alot of it is. I think the Skinner besides being the his best novel is the one that blends in the world building details into the story the best.
As for the Solider this novel was fun for me but not a quick or easy read. It took a little while for Asher to weave the elements together but I liked the effect in the end. the story is mostly pew pew space battles. A bunch of different forces are summoned to this large object in space that appears to be hiding a artifacts that are basically weapons of this long dead advanced civilization The Jain. That old culture was mentioned through the books. So the Jain are like this lost mythical species. The story centers around one of this long dead species being brough back life after centuries and the various forces fight over it.
One of the coolest moments is when I realized that the soldier was able to return basically transmitted by the Splatterjay virus (from The Skinner). A soldier basically resurrected after five million years by the virus. Those are some of the just insane ideas that are commonplace in a Asher book.
One of the coolest things of the book was when the sub-mind of the Jain soldier in the final stages sets up and for shadows the rest of the trilogy.
"You cannot stop The Soldier,"the fading submind told her.
"What weapons can stop it?" She asked.
"You do not have them. It will destroy your defense sphere and detonate the sun."
I think you should read Asher and the polity which is similar to Ian Banks Culture universe in the vast scope of it all. I personally would say Gridlinked or The Skinner are better places to start. If you were thinking you wanted space opera but way weirder space opera Neal Asher is always your guy.