The Philip K. Dick Award nominee author of Cowl has written an adrenaline-powered SF adventure. In this pulse-quickening sequel to the acclaimed Gridlinked, (hailed as "brilliant and audacious work," by SFRevu.com), Neal Asher returns to his trademark Polity future setting.
Ian Cormac, a legendary Earth Central Security agent, the James Bond of a wealthy future, is hunting an interstellar dragon, little knowing that, far away, his competition has resurrected an horrific killing machine named "Mr. Crane" to assist in a similar hunt, ecompassing whole star systems. Mr. Crane, the insane indestructible artificial man now in a new metal body, seeks to escape a bloody past he can neither forget nor truly remember. And he is on a collision course with Ian Cormac.
"In a distant future in which humans have colonized the galaxy, Earth Central Security Agent Ian Cormac hunts an interstellar dragon on the primitive world of Cull. Far away, a rival has reawakened a psychotic artificial man known as Mr. Crane, housed him in a new metal body, and sent him after the same target, placing him on a collision course with Cormac. Set in the same world as Gridlinked, Asher's latest novel features fast-paced action, spy vs. spy intrigue, and the guilty pleasure of watching two exceptional and opposed individuals move inexorably toward an inevitable showdown. A good addition to most sf collections, this novel will have particular appeal to fans of science-oriented, far-future sf."— Jackie Cassada, Library Journal
"A sequel to Gridlinked, set in the same pounding, hyper-violent far future as The Skinner. Title character Mr. Crane, a schizophrenic, psychotic Golem (super-powerful, manufactured cyborg), is enslaved to Skellor, a megalomaniac triumvirate combining evil human traits, god-like Artificial Intelligence and alien Jain bio-technology. So dangerous does Earth Central, one of the godlike AIs that benevolently rule humanity, reckon the Jain technology-five million years old, it probably destroyed several intervening galactic civilizations-that it orders its finest agent, Ian Cormac, along with a small army of Golem, human and AI helpers, to track down and expunge Skellor and all traces of the Jain technology. Meanwhile, on the remote, forgotten colony world Cull, a human-alien Rondure Knight, Anderson, seeks to slay a dragon-although Anderson doesn't know that his quarry is actually Dragon, another baffling, potent alien, and that Skellor himself seeks Dragon to help him control the Jain technology growing inside his body. All this, however, barely skims the surface of this vast, dense, brawling yarn. A series of "retroact" insertions detail how Crane was created, subjugated and subverted, while chapter introductions further explicate the tale's backdrop. The superbly adaptive Jain technology mindlessly devours everything in its path as it seeks only to reproduce and spread; certain rebellious AIs may prefer to cooperate with Skellor, the Jain technology and Dragon; while the latter may not be the destructive, malevolent entity it appears . . . Fizzing with intelligent ideas and occasionallystreaked with black humor. Appalling, mind-boggling, fascinating-and irresistible."—Kirkus Reviews
"Asher's latest foray into the Polity universe—a far-future world ruled by AIs and connected by runcible technology, which allows faster-than-light travel and communication—is a hunt for Dragon, an entity abandoned by a previous civilization. Ian Cormac wants Dragon to get to Skellor, a particularly nasty kind of killer. Skellor is looking for Dragon to answer questions about Jain technology, left behind by another, long-vanished civilization. Skellor has resurrected the mysterious Mr. Crane, who has been given the personality of a serial killer but has become schizophrenic to give himself a chance of regaining his own mind. Foremost at issue is the Jain technology, used by Skellor to take over ships and human minds alike. Some believe it can be put to positive ends; others, that it's far too dangerous. No one understands what it really does or precisely how it works. All paths cross on an out-of-the-way planet on which the fight over Jain technology will finally erupt. Asher's way with space opera makes this hunt across space a spectacular adventure."—Regina Schroeder, Booklist
"A satisfyingly baroque plot and strong action sequences make up for a lack of character development and moral complexity in this gory space opera from British SF author Asher. Human beings have considerable freedom in Polity Space, a mostly civilized place, but enormously powerful AIs make all the important decisions. Three monstrous creatures threaten the Polity: Dragon, a gigantic being of unknown origin; Skellor, an evil, once human scientist transformed by the nanotechnology of the extinct Jain race; and Mr. Crane, the monstrous killing machine who does Skellor's bidding. Aided by several AIs, supercompetent Earth Central Security agent Ian Cormac must deal with all these dangers before civilization is plunged into chaos. Unbeknownst to him, however, several powerful AIs are plotting to gain Jain technology, even if it means the destruction of the human race. This violent, fast-moving novel is lots of fun."—Publishers Weekly
"Asher does time travel and he does it damn well, taking the reader on a journey that would make one hell of a theme park ride!"—SFRevu.com
"Time travel, ultraviolence, big dinosaurs—the perfect mind-blasting SF cocktail."—SFX magazine
"Asher has lit up the sky of Science Fiction like a new sun."—Tanith Lee
Neal Asher lives in Chelmsord, Essex, UK.