24 April 2013

Special effects get better as the Dragon hatches a cunning plot


Books | Neal Asher | The Technician

This is the second book by Neal Asher that I have read, and I am now a Fan. This book is somewhat spaced out in the series (I do hate missing intermediate books), and Dragon, the entity made up of four linked spheres each a kilometer across, has, somewhere in those missing books, managed to divide and fool. One of those spheres has crashlanded on the planet of action, and Dragon's creations, the dracomen, have set up home on the planet.

The Polity is likely to declare the planet previously occupied by a sentient species, so the humans there are understandably miffed and willing to create mayhem, separatism, and the like. Especially as they have only just come aboveground after being an Underground (as well as literally underground) opposed to the ruling theocracy. Which has been obliterated almost to a man. There is one man left of them, who has had his head eaten off (and spat back) by a giant creature known as The Technician. The Technician is an artist, who makes incomprehensible sculptures out of the bones of the gabbleducks, huge pyramidal animals that gabble nonsense that almost makes sense (but never does), and chase unwary humans. There is an amphidapt man (a frog man for us normal movie-watching humans) who hides from everyone, including, he hopes, the AIs in orbit, and whose life's mission is collecting every one of the Technician's sculptures, in order to make sense of them. When we are a few chapters in, we understand that if the Technician is really old, then humans have to clear out.

Or, wait, there is also an alien AI which has refused to communicate with humans or their AIs for decades upon decades. There are two human AIs, one of which is totally insane, and the other one probably is, for it has released the black (physically as well; perhaps Asher doesn't really care for metaphors) AI. Not really. The wicked part of it is sealed away (and leaks out somewhere in the second half of the book, ha ha).

Back up a bit. The reason Dragon crashed on the planet is that it sold its augments to the religious government, found them to be somewhat resistant, and in a tremendous set of double crosses, the theocracy used a Dragon supplied superweapon and Dragon destroyed them. Largely. The rest being taken care of by the Underground.

OK,
at this point, I suggest you read the book for yourself. It is hugely complicated, there are giant wars run by AIs and fantastical future weapons. The Technician fulfils its destiny, as does the remaining theocrat, assorted Polity agents (not Ian Cormac, but good enough), dracomen, gabbleducks, and whole series of satisfyingly alien aliens. Yesss! Aliens more wacky than Larry Niven could come up with, and that is saying something.

Yes, there are truly villainous villains, and unlike, say George RR Martin stories, they do get their just desserts, and lots of people live happily ever after.

Fanlike drooling prevents me from typing further for fear of damaging my keyboard.

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