Cover art for Neal Asher’s novel “Infinity Engine”
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It’s been three-and-a-half years since I first started this trilogy with Dark Intelligence and almost three years since I read and reviewed part two, War Factory. Now I wrap up Neal Asher’s Transformation trilogy with Infinity Engine.
The hardest part of reading these books is keeping track of all of the characters. In Book One, Thorvald Spear seemed to be the central character and he still receives a lot of the focus, but the Black AI Penny Royal (I love the name) is the intelligence that is manipulating all of the other characters and circumstances to their own ends.
A main component was introduced in the last book, “Room 101,” a former weapons factory orbiting a supergiant star that, according to Penny Royal’s design, is being remade into something radically different.
Prador Moon cover art
I’ve previously read and reviewed Neal Asher’s “Polity series” novels Dark Intelligence (2015) and War Factory (2016), both part of the “Transformation” trilogy.
Frankly, Asher has written so many novels, just within this one series, that I was stumbling blind when I read those two, and although I enjoyed them, I couldn’t figure out how everything fit together.
I needed some sort of context to make sense of the universe I was experiencing. Although it’s not the first “Polity” book Asher (metaphorically) penned, Prador Moon records the first encounter between humans and AIs in the Polity and the Prador.
It’s not a complex novel, but it does introduce some of the key elements presented in all of these stories, including “Augs,” “AIs,” “Golems,” “runcibles” (basically stargates), and of course, the utterly ruthless, crab-like Prador.
Cover image for Neal Asher’s novel “War Factory”
Disclosure: My short story “Joey” appears in the Zombie Pirate Publishing science fiction anthology World War Four. It also features Neal Asher’s novelette Monitor Logan.
Neal Asher’s War Factory is the sequel to his novel Dark Intelligence and the second in his “Transformations” trilogy.
We continue to follow the travails of a plethora of characters, human, Prador, AI, and other, all orchestrated by the dark AI Penny Royal, who has mysterious motivations for manipulating lives and even entire regimes.
Asher remains a top author in the crafting of space operas, interweaving a large cast of players on his interstellar stage, this time upping the game. Penny Royal leads herself, the assassin droid Riss, and Thorvald Spear on a journey to rediscover their beginnings, which for the mechanized members, is a massive space station. “Room 101” was a sapient intelligence who felt a maternal instinct toward her martial creations, and who, when on the verge of destruction, did the unthinkable.
Cover images of several of Neal Asher’s novels as found on his website.
“Monitor Logan” is a novelette written by bestselling science fiction author Neal Asher for the Zombie Pirate Publishing anthology World War Four (2019). Since my short story “Joey” also appears in the anthology, I can’t review that book or any part of it on Amazon (goodreads may be another story), but I can review Asher’s tale on my blog.
This story takes place in Asher’s Polity Universe, though in terms of chronology, I don’t know where it would fall. I was first introduced to Asher’s work and the Polity via his novel Dark Intelligence which I previously reviewed.
The title “Monitor Logan” might as well be rendered “Marshall Logan,” and this wee missive could easily be an American western. Lawman rides into town after the previous lawman is gunned down. Town’s run by corrupt mining corporations that enslave an indigenous population to do their labor, while paying off a local gang of bandits. Lawman comes to punish the guilty and protect the innocent, but he’s got a secret agenda and a thirst for revenge.
As I was reading, I couldn’t help but recall the 1973 film High Plains Drifter, which is the first western Clint Eastwood starred in that he also directed. If you’ve ever seen that movie, you have a lot of the plot to “Monitor Logan.”
Asher again presents us with his affinity for sapient artificial intelligence, human/droid alliances, human/alien hybrids, high technology in low tech settings, devastating weapons of war, and what I refer to as “medical atrocities.”
Promotional image for Neal Asher’s novelette “Monitor Logan” featured in the anthology “World War Four.”
I’ve mentioned more than once how the Zombie Pirate Publishing SciFi anthology World War Four is currently available for pre-order on Amazon and will be released as both a paperback and ebook on March 1st. It includes my short story “Joey” as well as bestselling author Neal Asher‘s novelette “Monitor Logan.”
I finally have a promotional image and description of “Monitor Logan” which takes place in the same universe as Dark Intelligence, which I’ve recently read and reviewed. If you’re an Asher fan, you won’t want to miss “Monitor Logan.”
Cover art for Neal Asher’s 2015 novel “Dark Intelligence.”
Disclosure: My short story “Joey” will be published in the upcoming Zombie Pirate Publishing anthology World War Four which also features the novelette “Monitor Logan” by best-selling author Neal Asher. Watch for the anthology on Amazon starting March 1, 2019.
I must admit that prior to being informed of the above, I had never heard of Asher or his works, though scanning his published novels, I was certainly impressed. Since we’d be “sharing” the inside of an anthology, I felt I should get to know his writing a bit better, and so selected Dark Intelligence: Transformation Book One (2015) as my introductory novel.
There was a superficial resemblance to Alastair Reynolds’ 2008 collection of short stories (all set in the same universe) Galactic North, particularly in the area of “medical atrocities,” but other than that, they’ve both described unique universes.
The novel is an ensemble piece, however the main protagonist, and the only one who speaks in first person, is a man called Thorvald Spear, who was killed in a war a century before by the rogue AI Penny Royal, or so it seems. Spear is revived with a strong desire to revenge himself on the supremely powerful Penny Royal, but as he continues to pursue her, he becomes uncertain if some, or any of his memories are truly his rather than images implanted by the AI in order to manipulate him.
Updated “World War Four” anthology Table of Contents
Yes, I’m excited. You’ve seen variations on this before, but the anthology’s TOC now includes the title of the novelette by internationally bestselling science fiction author Neal Asher. As an aside, having recently finished N.K Jemisin’s Hugo-award winning novel The Fifth Season, I’ve started reading Asher’s Dark Intelligence (2016), the first book in his Transformation series. Can’t wait to review it.
Promotional image for Zombie Pirate Publishing’s “World War Four” anthology
Remember a few days ago when I announced that one of my short stories was going to be published in Zombie Pirate Publishing’s anthology World War Four? The accompanying graphic stated that there would be a “Special Guest” author’s work included in the project.
Late yesterday (in my time zone), Adam and Sam at ZPP posted a brief video on Facebook (it should play in a new window or tab when you click the link, even if you aren’t logged into Facebook) announcing the author.