Monday, May 24, 2010

Book Review : Orbus - Neal Asher 9*

Mr. Asher, I have a complaint, a serious complaint. There is a page early on in your novel, page number fifty-six I believe, in which nobody dies by accelerated railgun fire, is mutilated by giant armoured crab beasts or finds themselves growing new and worrying body parts after being infected by the Spatterjay virus, this lets down an otherwise fine book.

Seriously though, Orbus picks up some of Asher's characters from previous novels (Old Captain Orbus, Sniper and 13 the drones, Vrell the Prador) and throws them together in a maelstrom of heavy weapons fire and non stop action.

Orbus contains all the elements required for a really great space opera, big space ships (wow, that ship is five miles across, that's huge, no wait, look at that one, it's fifty miles across !) lots of mayhem causing weapons, a fast moving plot underpinned by constant excitement/explosions/gruesome deaths, giant armoured crab creatures with laser cannons, it's brilliant.

The Prador, previously accepted as the most dangerous, fearless and downright nasty creatures in the known universe, suddenly find themselves usurped half way through the book. Other authors might have used this tactic to reflect on the nature of mental versus physical strength and the folly of empire building, Neal Asher uses it as an excuse to think up bigger weapons, laser borne information viruses and even bigger explosions ("what was that big flash ?" "I think the planet just blew up").

Sci-fi, sometimes it's great because it makes you examine your own humanity, and then sometimes it's great because it has nautilus war drones with tac nukes. Now that Avatar has set the standard for filmed sci-fi, would someone please make a movie of one of Asher's books ?

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