Prador Moon: A Novel of the Polity Mass Market Paperback – Mar 1 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Asher's enjoyable if violent SF novel pits heavily augmented posthumans and the AIs who rule them, the Polity Collective, against the Prador, vicious, bug-eyed aliens out to conquer all human space. The Polity Collective, an eminently civilized society, despite a small separatist underground that resents the AI's benign rule, stands in contrast to the crablike Prador, who rule by brute force. Since the Prador have a technological advantage in space warfare, two human beings—the super-soldier Jebel Krong and Moria Salem, a technician with an illicit brain augmentation—must combine their talents to try to destroy the impregnable Prador warship threatening humanity. The Polity novels (Gridlink, etc.) lack the intellectual complexity of the best British space opera by such writers as Iain M. Banks, Ken MacLeod and Justina Robson, but if you don't mind the gross out (the Prador eat not only their young but also their human enemies), they're invariably a good read. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The Polity, a space-faring civilization ruled mostly by AIs because only they can cope with the math for the runcible operation enabling interstellar travel, has just made first contact. No one knew quite what to expect of the crablike Prador's visit to Avalon Station, though the massacre that ensued wasn't on anybody's list. Seems the bloodthirsty Prador are bent on taking over the Polity and its runcible technology, and the Polity powers that be must scrambled to get to have any chance of defeating them. Jebel Krong, a soldier on Avalon when the aliens arrived, and runcible tech Moria Salem, recently cerebrally augmented to handle the technology, are thrown together in a classic space-opera scenario in which two wild cards are the private surgeon who installed Moria's aug--a fugitive--and the aug itself, which is more than ordinary. The Prador invasion and Polity politics are revealed as horribly intertwined, but Moria and Jebel might end the war with a particularly bold plan. A fast and furious spectacle developed with gusto. Regina Schroeder
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
That said, if you are looking for a quick fix, it does have some of asher's flare for violence and ingenuity. However, I feel it a bit empty and not up his usual standard. If your looking for a novel equal to the Brass Man or Gridlinked, I would suggest holding off for the new Polity novel coming out this fall.
But Asher has set the bar for himself very high, which means that when a novel like "Prador Moon" is released it ends up being something of a disappointment. It has the feel of having been rushed. It is missing Asher's usual complex plotting and large vision. The Prador themselves are interesting and well-delineated (though I found myself wondering on several occasions how they could ever have developed a star-faring civilization, or even discovered fire, for that matter).
But for me the ultimate problem is that the book ends very abruptly. And while the immediate problem is resolved, we are left with no idea how the war itself is resolved on the galactic scale. This is more like a book about a few skirmishes than an all-out war.
Also, some of the characters go through high-speed development. One who is unsure of himself early in the book is suddenly a battle hardened veteran, with no intervening evolution. He was so different the second time he entered the story that I had to go back and make sure he was the same person.
I'm guessing there will be more of this series. I would have preferred to have waited another 6 - 8 months for the whole novel in one volume.
Asher does one other thing extremely well, as good as any writer out there. Yes, he imbues his action sequences with a sense of relish and fun that I thoroughly enjoy, but he also makes absolutely wonderful and convincing protagonists. Even better, he makes really, really great villains! His protagonists are never self-righteous, self-involved, or even self-important like so many characters in other stories. Nope, they're generally down-to-earth, likeable people reacting in sensible ways to the environment they find themselves in. His villains are even better than his good guys though; they are generally self-righteous, self-involved, self-important, and fanatically bigoted to boot. They're not "EVIL" like so many authors make the mistake of doing. Nope, they're really villainous because they simply don't care about others, only about their own goals, and if everyone has to die to justify their own views then that is just fine with them. Asher just has a natural knack for making both convincing, likeable protagonists and thoroughly despicable, villainous, believable, and actually enjoyable bad guys.
Beyond creating great individual villains, Asher also loves to take aim at institutionalized villainy and pokes sharp, pointy, literary sticks at many such groups in his fiction. He is particularly gifted at skewering both abusive religious cults and fanatical terrorist groups. In trademark Asher fashion, the resolution of conflicts between these psychopaths and his protagonists universally involve viscerally, violent scenes with lots of explosions and flying body parts. Denouement of a graphically gruesome, yet satisfyingly cathartic, manner. I think the single most apt adjective for Asher's novels would be "FUN". Yes, he writes great stories which are compelling and interesting, but so do other gifted writers. Where Asher trumps all others is in making sure you have fun in reading his stories. If you like science fiction and if you like action, then you're in for a treat with this author. Nobody, but nobody, puts the two together better than Asher.
Now, after that glowing paean, on to my verdict for Prador Moon. This novel does not measure up to Asher's past performances unfortunately. It is a much simpler story without the twisted, convoluted plotting featured in his earlier works and it suffers because of this. Since this book clocks in at around 200 pages, as opposed to the average 500 pages of his other novels, there just isn't as much room for ideas, action, plot, and character development and frankly it shows. This novel still features much of what I described above, but in smaller portions which fail to satisfy as previous novels did. It also lacked a pivotal idea, a technique used to drive the stories in other novels. For example, the xenobiology of the planet Spatterjay was the underlying pivotal idea which drove all else in The Skinner. In Line of Polity it was the Jain technology and its implications. All of the previous Asher novels were brimming in colorful, fun ideas, but they were all anchored to one pivotal, central story idea which supported and directed the others. This novel simply did not have an underlying idea that had not already been dealt with in previous novels. I still liked this book, but I can't say I loved it like the other Polity novels. Honestly it feels more like a supporting novella and not like a novel at all. There are some good reasons to read it anyway though. First off, it's not bad at all, just not up to the same grade of excellence as the previous works. We also get to learn some backstory on the Polity and some of the characters who show up in future stories (Occam's Razor, Tomalon, Anna Vasco, etc). Chronologically, this novel is set much earlier in the Polity universe (before Gridlinked, The Skinner, Brassman, Line of Polity, Sable Keech, etc.) giving us some background into the development of the Polity and the initial war with the Prador civilization. The book follows the action of the team that makes initial violent contact with the Pradors (really good bad guys, giant crabs that like to eat and enslave humans). Jebel "Ucap" Krong is a soldier obsessively fighting the Prador. "Ucap" is short-hand for "up close and personal", which is a pretty cool handle I have to admit. The story focuses on the ongoing conflicts between Ucap and the ship Occam's Razor with the Prador Captain Immanence and the eventual resolution of that conflict. It pretty much ignores the war in general which was really disappointing. A full treatment of the war would have been fascinating and could have been the best Asher novel yet. The novel also ends pretty early in the war so you really don't know much about the conflict at all other than how it started, and what happened to those involved in that initial conflict, and of them only to that point somewhat into the opening of the war. I wish the author had done a complete treatment of the war and not just this one vignette which feels like nothing more than a teaser. There were also some irritatingly unfinished elements in the book like the story on the augment surgeon, Aubron Sylac, that were never fleshed out. So, all-in-all, my verdict is that if you don't mind paying a full novel price for a partially complete novella, and you know what you are getting in advance, then this is a fun little read and worthwhile. Just don't expect something along the lines of The Skinner or Line of Polity. My verdict is three stars. Yes, I know I have five stars above, but that happened somehow accidently and Amazon won't let me edit it now. My apologies for that and I hope you'll accept this lengthy review as amends. For what it's worth I think everything else I have read by Asher is five star suff.
Buy it and enjoy the ride.