Favorite Asher Book?

It's like when you lend an SF book to someone telling them you think it's excellent, and are then disappointed when they seem unimpressed. I've seen so many varying opinions of my books, many of them contradicting each other, that I can't really say. Check out the amazon reviews of them and you'll see what I mean.

Cowl is an excellent wide-screen time-travel story, done in the manner of a space opera ... or it's far too complicated and violent with unlikable characters.

Gridlinked is a space opera/detective/James Bond romp ... or it's boring SF with flat characters.

The Skinner is another romp full of wonderful characters and an superbly detailed ecology ... or it's full of unbelievable creatures, cardboard characters and a pointless plot.

Take your pick.

I thought it would be easy getting one of those books when i decided to try your work. For some reason no library in sweden has any of them. Not even bookmooch has them.

So i went for Cowl and ordered. I gambled on a stand alone who sounded good.

I liked the time travel angle and an artifically forced advance in human evolution when i read about it in fantasticfiction.
Not much to say because I haven't read any Neal Asher 's books, I am about 40 pages into Gridlinked and it's very good so far. Lots of action!! Keep it coming Mr. Asher...
Currently reading Gridlinked (which is the first novel I have read of Neal's) and its pretty darn good. I find Neals style interesting and gripping, he does not drag things out too much and looks like he does not mince his words, basically he likes to get straight to the point. I like all the characters and despise the ones I am supposed to. I just have a niggle about Cormac himself, he seems to be a bit detached (for obvious reasons). Does he get over it in the later novels? I find him slightly irritating as he does not connect to his team/people very well or will that be explained later on?

Keep it coming Neal, I think I might have found a new fave author.

P.S. Mr Crane is quite freaky don't you think? I would flat out crap myself if I ever saw him in reality.
I've read everything except for The Parasite, Mason's Rats, Runcible Tales, The Line War and of course Orbus. I’m on a mission to find The Parasite, Mason's Rats and Runcible Tales. I’m waiting on a copy of The Line War to come in my store. Out of all I think the Spatterjay series is my favorite and anything with the Owner in it.

I have one question though Jable Sharks in The Engineer Reconditioned is that part of the Polity universe?
I honestly don't think I can say I have a favorite, each one has just made the others fit into place more! I've gotta say cheers, because I hadn't really read anything for a long while until I quite randomly got a copy of Hilldiggers for a train journey last summer - since then I've nearly caught up with whats on offer! Thanks again!
quite bizarrely, i've just come across a copy of Runcible Tales in Sheffield City Library. looking forward to this one.
Like most people, my favorite Asher book keeps changing. Scrabbling through my sketchy records it looks like I probably first read "Owner Space" (2008-09-10) and actually didn't much like it. Then I read "Alien Archeology" (2008-09-20 - which I've elsewhere mistakenly said was first) which I liked better and that prompted me to pick up Gridlinked (2008-09-30 - seem to have a thing with multiples of ten days) but I can't remember if I read it or The Engineer Reconditioned first. I'm almost positive I read it first, before reading the collection by 2009-05-18. The novel was pretty good and made me think I might like this Asher guy but wasn't so great that I was completely convinced at that point. But the collection made me pretty sure and, at that point, it was my favorite.

Then I spent a long time piling up Asher books, trying to get the right ones in the right order and I'm finally getting around to them. Since Christmas I've read Cowl, The Line of Polity, Brass Man, and Prador Moon. I read Cowl while I was sick and I often dislike time travel and this book wasn't perfect (and neither was I) but it still seemed to have at least really good parts. Then, with its excellent alien ecology, interestingly vicious sociology and cool characters, The Line of Polity became my new favorite (or at least tied the collection). While still spiffy, I actually didn't like Brass Man as much but I'm still looking forward to #4 and #5 of course. And now I've read Prador Moon and that bit of concentrated explosive is now my favorite Asher.


The topic's "favorite" but there's a lot of discussion about "where to start" and I'd say that, of the six I've read, The Engineer Reconditioned (a good array of what Asher can do), Gridlinked (his first major novel and first (in publication order) Cormac novel and first (in internal main series order - though there is a prequel)) is another decent first. And, arguably, Prador Moon (a short concentrated dose and internally the first Polity book - of which Cormac is a part) would be the best starting place.


Re: Banks - I may yet be a Banks fan (only read three and still not sure - actually doubting now) so it's possible but, in many ways, Asher and Banks share some of the same science fictional furniture but seem antithetical and I'd imagine there's a lot of discrepancy in their fan bases, too. Not everything's black and white in Asher and not quite everything is a perfect gray in Banks but Asher has a much more, um, vigorous depiction of settling differences and a clearer picture of who should win. And Asher seems to depict a much less sybaritic universe. Banks' narrative voice seems to deplore violence but admit its necessity while Asher's characters don't really glorify it but are much readier to take up arms. And there's a difference there: Banks is very much a "narrator" guy while Asher lets his characters' actions do a lot more of the talking. And Asher himself (above) is correct as far as I'm concerned in that I've read Banks' first three and prefer Consider Phlebas by a good margin. (The Player of Games trails by a good margin, with Use of Weapons somewhere between.)
The only Asher book I've given a go was "The Departure". Not sure I'd recommend it as a first book to try, as I only got 20 pages into it I'm afraid. But I've read that it may be atypical in style and/or content. Perhaps I'd like one of his earlier ones more? Anyone read something that's been lauded on this thread (like Gridlinked or The Skinner) as well as The Departure, who can compare and contrast them for me? Thanks.
I'll take that as a "no" then :)
I'll restart my foray with Gridlinked then, as its his first novel and I'm a 'start at the beginning' kinda guy. I daresay I'll return to Departure at some point. I have to say the covers of these books (UK editions) are excellent and make them quite enticing.
Bick, sorry I didn't notice your February post.

I personally started with Gridlinked and thoroughly enjoyed it. However chronologically Prador Moon is the first and is also an excellent book. I would also say it is possibly one of the most accessible of the Polity books. In that it is an great, action packed, fast, easy read.

The Shadow of the Scorpion is actually a prequel to Gridlinked (falling chronologically between Prador Moon and Gridlinked). However it is certainly not necessary to read it before Gridlinked. It does give some of Cormac's back history but Gridlinked was the first published book and really doesn't need either of the others to be read first.

After that I'd recommend reading them in chronological order (though The Skinner and it's two sequels happen so long after the Cormac books that they also make a perfectly good starting point). I have enjoyed all of them throughly; every single book is either 4 or 5 stars out of 5 in my ratings and off the top of my head I don't think there are any series this long that I've read that have been so consistent in my ratings.

My favourites so far have been Prador Moon, The Skinner and The Voyage of the Sable Keech (there's just something about the Spatterjay world that I love!).
I'll take that as a "no" then :)

I didn't answer initially because I hadn't read The Departure, so couldn't really compare and contrast but if you want more replies, I'd say that I think that's an Owner book vs. his much more loved and famous Polity/Cormac books. I have read stories in the Owner universe and, while they have some of the trademark violence they just seem a bit blander to me and have odd political touches - I dunno - basically, they just don't stick in the mind enough for me to meaningfully contrast them. But I'd definitely recommend not starting there or giving up on Asher if that's where one did start and it didn't appeal. I second Vertigo's post generally (except that I've skipped the Spatterjay novels - the Spatterjay stories I've read were a little heavy on the horror-ish stuff in the SF/horror mix for me - not that Skellor's sunshine and daisies - or maybe the bio vs. techno mix or something). Anyway, whatever else I'd post I've already said, mainly in the middle of my previous post in this thread.

Rodders - The Technician is the second one set on Masada, like The Line of Polity, right? If so, I look forward to getting that eventually. If it could equal or surpass Line, it'd be in my top three or two, at least.
I know you addressed your question to Rodders, but I'll chip in anyway :eek:

Yes The Technician is set on Masada but with a very different set of characters; no Cormac and Amistad (the drone from Shadow of the Scorpion) reappears as a major character. It is very good, though I had some reservations. My comments are here.
Hey thanks for the replies guys. So it seems I probably did just start in the wrong place, and should try a polity book. Prader Moon seems like the ticket. I'll let you know how I get on (though it will join the list TBR list, which already has about 4 books on it, so may be a few weeks before I can report back).
4 books!!!!!

Dear Lord, that my TBR should be so small; I currently have 83 books that I have bought in my list and another 164 in my TBR wishlist :eek:
:) I guess I mean in my immediate tbr list. There are probably more in need of reading eventually on the shelf that I know I'm not going to read straight away.
I know you addressed your question to Rodders, but I'll chip in anyway :eek:

Yes The Technician is set on Masada but with a very different set of characters; no Cormac and Amistad (the drone from Shadow of the Scorpion) reappears as a major character. It is very good, though I had some reservations. My comments are here.

Sorry I didn't get back to you for so long - thanks for the confirmation and additional info. I've still got a couple of Ashers in the pile but that one will be the next one or one after that, I think.

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