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THE TECHNICIAN By Neal Asher – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 14, 2015 by stanleyriiks

This is the book that got me reading Asher’s books. Jon Sullivan’s cover of the titular beast is incredible, and his other covers for Asher’s other books are pretty damn good too. Can you pick a book by its cover?

Although this book is set in Asher’s familiar Polity world it is a stand-alone novel and can be read independently. But, if you have read some of his other novels this will inform the backstory of some familiar characters.

Masada is home to the hooders, a set of deadly creatures, the Theocracy (a strictly religious group who have enslaved some of the populous), the gaggleducks, and the Technician, a near mythical creature who not only attacks humans but turns their bodies into works of art.

When the Technician allows one of its victims to live, Jeremiah Tombs, a member of the Theocracy, it changes him in ways that even the advanced technology of the Polity cannot determine.

Twenty years later the Theocracy is no more, Tombs escapes his Polity captors and goes in search of the truth, a band of rebels called the Tidy Squad are out to kill him, and the Technicians is still out hunting…

Apart from that there are war drones, a dragon and his ancestors, a modified human studying the Technician, and alien races that have destroyed themselves to muddy the waters further.

There’s a lot going on here, as there is with most of Asher’s novels. His intricate plots draw you gradually deeper into his worlds. The characters are barely memorable, but it is the story, the plot and the incredibly well crafted world that really drive this novel.

Asher writes proper SF, intelligent, insightful, and passionate. The world he has created in this novel and the other Polity books (and the Scatteray series) are incredibly complex and detailed and yet don’t overwhelm the intense and sometimes complicated plots. The story drives along swiftly, there are multiple layers, and everything comes together in a riveting but mildly disappointing climax. Can any ending really live up to the rest of the novel?

Asher is the master of intelligent SF. The Technician is a great novel to start your Polity education: jump straight in, the water is thrilling.

VAMPYRRHIC By Simon Clark – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 18, 2010 by stanleyriiks

I quite enjoyed this. It’s not normally my kind of thing, it’s a gentle, old-skool horror novel.

The premise is excellent, Thor (from Norse mythology) made a pact with a family a thousand years ago and gave them a vampire army to destroy all of Christendom. Unfortunately the family didn’t stick to the plan, and now, a thousand years later, David Leppington has returned to the family home to find that he is the last of the line, and expected to take control of the vampire army on its unending march to domination of the Christian world.

That would have been a great book. Unfortunately what we get is this great idea as the back-story. The main plot concerns David Leppington returning to his hometown, the town of Leppington, named after his family, and discovering the legend of Thor’s vampire army from his uncle, and then attempting to destroy the army before they begin their attack.

The first two thirds of the book set up the story as we are gradually given more information about the legend and the town. The story slowly and gently unravels, the vampires begin to escape and attack the human population of Leppington, but it isn’t until the uncle blows a hole in the bars imprisoning the creatures that the action kicks up a notch and David and his new-found friends, must fight for their lives.

Clark is a writer of such potential, as shown by the premise. But here he’s missed a massive opportunity. The book we’re given is in no way as exciting, entertaining or as passionate as it could have been. It seems this is a much more traditional, staid, and middle-of-the-road novel, playing safe rather than provoking any kind of emotion.

The writing isn’t Clark at his best either, his characters are all weak, limp-wristed, wet-wipes. Nothing there to incite any feeling.

Still, being the wrong book, a massive missed opportunity, a complete failure in potential, this still isn’t such a bad book. It certainly doesn’t have much going for it; but it’s a good little standard horror novel, similar to what Richard Laymon used to churn out endlessly.

Typical low-impact horror.