Sunday, June 29, 2008

Prador Moon - Neal Asher

Monster aliens vs men.

Diplomatic contact with the Prador is not smooth:

"Not good. Not good at all." Urbanus was suddenly beside him, tying a piece of wire above his arm stump then hauling him to his feet. Golem hurtled towards Vortex and the remaining smaller Prador. Few humans remained in the chamber—living ones, anyway. Vortex seemed to ponder the situation for a second, then its claw snicked and the Ambassador fell in two halves to the floor. The Prador now held out that bloody claw. A flash of turquoise cut the air—some kind of particle cannon actually concealed in the claw. Three of the Golem were down, their ceramal bones fused or shattered. A missile struck the big Prador's shell and ricocheted into the wall above, exploding there. As the smoke cleared Jebel saw Vortex pushing forwards, firing that cannon again and again into the weapons ports, and from out behind the creature, those smaller Prador surged, some scrambling over each other in their eagerness. As Urbanus dragged him through the crack in the armoured wall, Jebel glimpsed one of the new arrivals picking up a severed human leg and tearing the flesh from the bone with its mandibles, eating it.

Right, thought Jebel, big hostile aliens with a taste for human flesh. It was the kind of scenario that would have been laughed out of the door by a modern holofiction producer."

So, after that, you absolutely know where this book is going. It is of the blowing stuff up, shooting, spaceships and slaughter variety. Plus a bit of alien politics.

The Prador are a type of monarchy that believes in more animal like breeding. Have plenty of offspring, use them as cannon fodder, and the ones that survive might be good for something.

Despite a bit of a surprise, the humans may have some chance:

"Would I appear too naive if I asked what that was?" asked Nelson.

"That, my boy, was a Polity war drone. And if you ever thought AIs were sane and sensible, think again."

"But a useful lunatic to have on your side?" suggested Genesh.

Lithgow grimaced. "Yes, of course."

The runcible and local AI become crucial to the conflict, especially when not all the humans in the area get along.

With that, it may be a case of which group gets eaten first.

Zero messing around or padding in this one, so if you want a short sf adventure space opera type story with ugly aliens like they used to do, here's your 21st century variety.

Or, here, action, thy name is Asher.

I have been tossing up as to whether this is a 3 or a 3.5, so consider it 3.25ish, perhaps, but I think I'd go a bit higher than that as it might deserve another look.

3.5 out of 5

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