The Parasite will complete my collection. I admit I was also curious to read some of his early work, Neal Asher has for a long time been one of my favorite science fiction authors.
Jack Smith is comet ice-miner, a high risk, but high reward job. He's invested a lot of his money on this final trip so when he discovers a flaw in the ice he is worried about the consequences. He examines the flaw in the ice which turns out to be a black fibrous substance, but when he touches it his fingers start to burn from the cold. Somehow the gloves of his suit has ruptured and exposed him the coldness of space. Jack bandages his hand and covers it with a plastic glove. Reporting the flaw to the TCC is not an option, they would discard it and he would lose everything. Jack ejects the part of the ice containing the flaw and prepares himself for cold sleep.
Two years later...
When Jack wakes up from his cold sleep he sees a report from the med-scan of gangrene in his fingers and hand. He peels off the bandage which comes off with a layer of dead skin only to reveal pink fresh skin underneath it. His nose feels strangely bunged up and he cannot stop sneezing as if he had an allergic reaction to something.
Back on earth Jack is cornered by two thugs when something seems to take over his body and forces him to confront them instead of fleeing. He can feel time slowing down and only observe in horror as he butchers the two men with his bare hands. Jack can feel movement within his body. There is something living inside of him.
Neal Asher paints a grim picture of earth where Mega corporations have too much money and power and they will stop at nothing to gain more. TCC was Jack's employer as a space miner and when they realise their mistake and that the cheapest option is to eliminate Jack to cover their tracks, Jack finds himself on the run from an enemy with limitless resources and enough money to ignore the rule of law.
I really liked The Parasite and any Neal Asher fan will recognise the style of his writing. It's high octane action all the way with brutal fights, golems, AIs and destruction on a massive scale. A real page turner and you just wish there were more pages to turn.
The Parasite weighs in at 40,000 words and is published by Neal Asher.
Verdict: Must read