Tuesday, 23 October 2012
Zero Point - Neal Asher
Things are getting very interesting in Zero Point, just as I suspected they would. I feel very smug right now writing this. Saul, our modified hero, is no longer a mere super genius, but has transcended to something new by melding with an AI. He might have dealt with the threats in The Departure, but unfortunately, when it comes to literature, obstacles tend to come back in a new shape and form. Good thing that, or books would be rather boring.
A new chairman, or chairwoman rather, of the committee is now in power. As impossible as it sounds she is even more ruthless than her predecessor, and also barking mad. Neal Asher has made her into a very unlikable villain, which is just what I like. Every time the story is told from her point of view, you can expect something outrageously evil, but she still manages to almost justify her actions. Her lack of regard for human life is made for her concern of mother nature, and it is her goal to restore Earth to it's former glory. The only way to do this is to consume less resources, and the fastest way to achieve this is to basically kill all Zero Assets humans. She might have a doomsday device to help her...
To restore Earth she needs the gene bank which is now in the hands of Saul, and a big battleship is built to retrieve it. There is some great plotting involved here where soon several factions are created, all in conflict with each other, but all of them gunning for Saul.
This is where Neal Asher gets creative with how Saul attempts to counter each threat. I have always enjoyed reading Mr Asher's in depth, technical descriptions of new machines, or even theoretical science. To me this is what SF is all about, making the unachievable possible and leaving the reader in awe. Neal Asher does not disappoint. Good thing there was a nutty professor on board the hijacked space station.
Zero Point introduced a few new interesting support characters. My favourite was Alex, a clone of the previous chairman, who was conditioned into the perfect soldier, unquestionably loyal and prepared to do anything to fulfil the mission. Alex will have his conditioning tested to the extreme. Trapped on a space station without much chance of rescue. I love it when people are forced to think for themselves, and are made to question what they are told.
I practically devoured Zero Point in a few lengthy reading sessions. The book was a real page turner. Neal Asher's trademarks were all there, action, imagination and great world building. All the story arcs are of the kind where you just want to read one last chapter before turning the lights off, and then it turns to two, then three. Just like The Departure I get the feeling we have still only scratched surface of what lies hidden in The Owner universe. I will be there for part three.
Zero Point weighs in at 400 pages, and is published by Tor.