The Departure by Neal Asher — book review

The Departure by Neal Asher, Tor ‘17.99

Reviewed by Ian Hunter

Bring it on! Here we go, the first of a new series, the Owner trilogy from Neal Asher. Yes, or rather no, it isn’t anything to do with The Polity, but rather something a bit more closer to home in terms of viewpoint and plausibility as it concerns events on twenty second century Earth and on colonised Mars, and on the Argus station from where the all-watching ‘Committee’ keep a brutal control. The super-rich have plenty, especially food which is in short supply for everyone else, whereas most of the poor are branded as ZA’s — Zero Assets and consigned to a ruined Earth, that is if they don’t break the rules and find themselves scheduled for readjusting, or incineration, or sent to the digesters to be recycled as food. In fact, being incinerated is the fate that awaits our hero, Alan Saul, who wakes up in a crate bound for the incinerator, with holes in his memory and things implanted inside his head, and more than a burning desire for revenge against the man who interrogated him and put him in this dire position. Meanwhile, on the Mars colony, things aren’t much better as the colonists have discovered that they are disposable and there is no way back for them due to cutbacks which means that they are stranded with dwindling resources and have to do something about it ‘ fast, if they are to survive.

The Departure picks up with the origins of the character called ‘The Owner’ who has featured in some Asher short stories and runs with the concept, although it might prove disappointing for some Asher devotees more used to weird creatures, major tech and dazzling and bewildering weaponry. That’s not to say that Asher isn’t any less inventive, but we are clearly in Saul’s head (along with something else) and very much on his side. Fast, furious, violent, slightly tongue-in-cheek (I think), and a whole lot of fun that makes 1984 seem like a children’s tea party, with a great cover from regular artist Jon Sullivan, adding up to the start of another promising series from Asher. Go on, dive in, you won’t be disappointed.

The Departure by Neal Asher, Tor ‘17.99

Reviewed by Ian Hunter

Bring it on! Here we go, the first of a new series, the Owner trilogy from Neal Asher. Yes, or rather no, it isn’t anything to do with The Polity, but rather something a bit more closer to home in terms of viewpoint and plausibility as it concerns events on twenty second century Earth and on colonised Mars, and on the Argus station from where the all-watching ‘Committee’ keep a brutal control. The super-rich have plenty, especially food which is in short supply for everyone else, whereas most of the poor are branded as ZA’s — Zero Assets and consigned to a ruined Earth, that is if they don’t break the rules and find themselves scheduled for readjusting, or incineration, or sent to the digesters to be recycled as food. In fact, being incinerated is the fate that awaits our hero, Alan Saul, who wakes up in a crate bound for the incinerator, with holes in his memory and things implanted inside his head, and more than a burning desire for revenge against the man who interrogated him and put him in this dire position. Meanwhile, on the Mars colony, things aren’t much better as the colonists have discovered that they are disposable and there is no way back for them due to cutbacks which means that they are stranded with dwindling resources and have to do something about it ‘ fast, if they are to survive.

The Departure picks up with the origins of the character called ‘The Owner’ who has featured in some Asher short stories and runs with the concept, although it might prove disappointing for some Asher devotees more used to weird creatures, major tech and dazzling and bewildering weaponry. That’s not to say that Asher isn’t any less inventive, but we are clearly in Saul’s head (along with something else) and very much on his side. Fast, furious, violent, slightly tongue-in-cheek (I think), and a whole lot of fun that makes 1984 seem like a children’s tea party, with a great cover from regular artist Jon Sullivan, adding up to the start of another promising series from Asher. Go on, dive in, you won’t be disappointed.