Neal Asher is not one to mess around. By page 8 of 'Prador Moon', the
blood is flowing and the rail guns are out. Functioning as a prequel
to much of everything else he's written set in the Polity Universe, 'Prador
Moon' offers a portrait of a dystopian human utopia disrupted by its
first meeting with intelligent aliens. As usual, Asher does quite a bit
more than it appears he's doing. On the surface, we have a straightforward
space war, us versus the Big Uglies. And it's not in any way the whole
war, only the opening salvos. Asher is working in a much tighter format
than he usually chooses, and manages to reign himself in as required.
Still, readers who enjoy his layered style will find it in evidence here.
Even as you’re swept away in the face of TOTAL WAR AGAINST SPACE
BUGS THAT EAT HUMAN FLESH, Asher slips in some smart thought experiments
and complex perceptual shifts that will remain lodged in your memory
long after the last gobbet of flesh has gone down an alien gullet.
you'll have to, or get to, depending on how you feel about it, wade
through a significant river of blood and guts, both human and alien
Asher unpacks his cleverest conceits. For all the blood, 'Prador Moon'
is not just a war novel. As Jebel Krong is blowing away giant space
crabs, Moria Salem is getting an "aug" installed. Readers who have
read Asher's work will know that "augs" are the devices via
which humans interface with Asher's interstellar Internet. They're familiar
ground, stuff we already know -- or stuff we thought we knew. As Moria
learns to use her aug, readers get a pretty fascinating glimpse into
Asher's version of the wirehead world. And then, of course, he twists
the knife and ups the ante.
For readers who
prefer the long version of everything, 'Prador Moon' will seem a bit
overly compacted, especially when compared to Asher's
full-blown novels. But there are blessings to be found in this tighter
format as well. To a certain extent, this almost reads like Asher's
earlier, rawer, less-formed work. But there's a brutal joy to be had
here in return
for what is sacrificed in terms of texture. And Asher does pull some
of his punches, giving the readers some nice surprises. Moria's plight
as she become accustomed to her new life as a augmented human leads
to some interesting character developments. And Jebel Krong is a bit
straightforward hero than we're used to finding in Asher's work.
the most interesting character development is left to the alien Prador,
whom we get to know all too well. Maybe it just says something
this particular reader, but Asher gets right behind their eyes and
it's to his credit that he makes them sympathetic, even when they're
humans limb from limb or using them in experiments that make any
torture you've ever read about seem like a virtual vacation in comparison.
Asher gets in some very nice riffs where we're treated to automated
performed by humans on humans that seems all too reminiscent of the
what the Prador do for less humanitarian reasons. We see ourselves
aliens, and it's a sobering moment.
Asher whips up a
storm in 'Prador Moon' and it doesn't let up even as the novella /
novel itself does.
For $14.95, it's a sweet deal
excellent intro to an unpleasant but very entertaining universe.
Readers who hoped to see a decent adaptation of Heinlein's 'Starship
back in the day when that movie was current would be well advised
to use this novel as an introduction to Asher. Asher makes big-screen,
sort-of-cheesy, but undeniably entertaining movies that can't help
but play well in your