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35 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rip-snorting good read
Neal Asher's "Gridlinked" is a fast-paced, adrenalin-fueled, action-packed, idea-studded, fascinating look at a possible future for humanity. What's more it's a heck of a good read, loads of fun, and I had a blast devouring it! After reading this one, his first, I immediately went back to Amazon and ordered all his other books and now am anxiously awaiting their arrival...
Published on July 18, 2005 by Colin P. Lindsey

versus
81 of 89 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun and Gun, interesting first effort
Neil Asher's first novel, "Gridlinked", is an attempt to put the James Bond genre into outer space. It doesn't wholly succeed, for most part due to the fact that the main character, Earth Security Agent Ian Cormac, has no character. Asher gives us a good reason why. It seems that he has been "gridlinked" or connected into the Artificial Intelligence Internet, for way...
Published on January 22, 2005 by David


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81 of 89 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun and Gun, interesting first effort, January 22, 2005
By 
David "dtstrange" (Pleasant Hill, CA United States) - See all my reviews
Neil Asher's first novel, "Gridlinked", is an attempt to put the James Bond genre into outer space. It doesn't wholly succeed, for most part due to the fact that the main character, Earth Security Agent Ian Cormac, has no character. Asher gives us a good reason why. It seems that he has been "gridlinked" or connected into the Artificial Intelligence Internet, for way too long and is more computer then man. For the first part of the novel, Cormac "unplugs" himself off this 'net, and has to deal with the consequences of finding his humanity and solving the galaxy's problems the old-fashioned way.

Now if Asher had kept this train of thought going throughout the novel, it would have been a whole lot better. Unfortunately, he gets caught up in the dealings of his psychopathic bad guy and his maniacal robot, along with the sudden inclusion of two alien life forms, and Cormac's inner struggle just disappears. After a bad day or two, Cormac seems to completely readapt to his lack of easily accessible information and the whole point of the novel just goes away and is never mentioned again. The rest of the novel disintegrates into a typical "chase the bad guy" story, with the usual tricks and clever tactics, etc. etc. I wish the novel had stayed the course as first promised. It would have been interesting had Cormac's cyber withdrawal actually had some bearing on the plot, but it really never does. In fact, very little that goes on in the novel actually effects the plot or the characters. It is a shame, as this was an excellent idea for a story and not bad, all things considered.

I wish Mr. Asher success in the future. I will be sure to read his next novel, in paperback, when it comes out.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Impressive first novel, May 26, 2005
By 
I just finished this novel last night - and it left me with a feeling that the best has yet to come from Neal Asher.
Many interesting ideas were introduced and Asher's 'Polity' promises to be a great backdrop for many future novels - likewise the main character Ian Cormac is interesting and complex enough to star in many more adventures. For me there were two things that kept it from scoring higher than 3 stars. What follows will not spoil the plot if you have yet to read the novel - however if you would rather dive in without knowing what to expect (like I do)I'd skip the rest of this review, and just buy the book - it is well worth the read.
Firstly, the theme of Cormac being separated from the grid was never fully explored later in the book. I would have liked to see this continued throughout the novel. Asher seems to forget about it half way through and focuses on Cormac as "action hero" rather than "social misfit with no humanity". Pity.
Secondly, there are 2 main plotlines and 1 tiny one which never really crossover in a way that makes sense. The revenge theme just wraps up too easily for my tastes and never connects with The Maker storyline as I hoped it would. The Stanton story ended very poorly and added nothing to the novel for me - a real shame since Stanton was a great character - I was hoping for some real interaction between him and Cormac more than just the "why choose a life of crime" conversation they have that lasts for thirty seconds.
In the end though I thought this book was quite good and I will definitely read his other novels. I would sum up his style as half way between the noir-action of Richard Morgan (Altered Carbon) and the space opera of Alistair Reynolds (Revelation Space) - both great British Sci-Fi writers who I would choose over Asher, but then again why waffle? Just read all three and don't forget to read Iain M. Banks' culture novels as well while you're at it!
-- Ryan Buckley
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35 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rip-snorting good read, July 18, 2005
This review is from: Gridlinked (Ian Cormac, Book 1) (Mass Market Paperback)
Neal Asher's "Gridlinked" is a fast-paced, adrenalin-fueled, action-packed, idea-studded, fascinating look at a possible future for humanity. What's more it's a heck of a good read, loads of fun, and I had a blast devouring it! After reading this one, his first, I immediately went back to Amazon and ordered all his other books and now am anxiously awaiting their arrival. I whole-heartedly recommend this book, and if you enjoy hard science fiction then I've no doubt that you'll enjoy this book too. It's definitely a keeper.

What a fun trip this was.....colony planets, advanced combat firearms, sentient hand weapons, genetic sculpting, enhanced nervous systems, intergalactic teleportation, inscrutable aliens, designer drugs, black market currencies, artificial intelligences....all fairly standard ideas, but Asher takes them and imprints them with his own unique take, and far more importantly, binds them up in a consistent, yet lavishly detailed universe.

And what a universe it is! What made this book particularly fun was Asher's wry nod at today's international terrorist problem. In his imagined future nearly everyone is relatively wealthy, healthy, prosperous, and enjoys a grand standard-of-living. Governmental affairs are managed with wisdom, intelligence and compassion by vast artificial intelligences and everyone has every reason to be happy and just enjoy the heck out of life. With incisive insight into the human mind and human condition though, Asher realizes that despite the fact that they should be happy, not all people are going to be, and the outer planets are rife with bomb-throwing terrorists, fanatical plots, and underground movements that routinely try to wrest control of their planet away from the benevolent rule of Earth central, invariably so they can loot the planet for wealth, live out bizarre social rituals, or just because they're contrary. Of course, when they are successful, as happens rarely, the whole social order breaks down completely within 20 years with disastrous results for the population. These examples don't ever slow down the next crop of terrorists any more than today's examples do (think Cuba, Lebanon, Iran, etc.)

This was so totally plausible to me that I loved this story. Create a paradise where everyone can live happily ever after, and then about thirty mintues later it will spectacularly implode because there are humans in it. Bigotry, hatred, paranoria, greed, idiocy, intolerance, fear, jealousy, religious doctrine, political dissension are all part of the human condition and have been around since day one. So it makes complete sense that they'll be around in the future as well. Therefore in Asher's delightful story it is no surprise that there is a small problem with people killing each other and blowing things up in Paradise. This of course gives his protagonist, Ian Cormac, an Earth Central security agent, plenty of bad guys to contend with throughout the book and makes for a jolly good romp. In a really neat way there is a fascinating inversion in this story; the villains are complex, motivated, and terrifically drawn while the hero is emotionally quiesecent, damaged mentally by his 30 year link to an artificial intelligence. This works well because the novel is also about the sympathetic characters regaining their humanity despite their past traumatizations, while the true villains have theirs consumed in hellish fires of psychic destruction of their own doing. I love books with clever, nasty, but intelligent bad guys and this one definitely qualifies.

There is some FANTASTIC science fiction coming from Britain these days (and a relative dearth in the US) so if you are looking for good Sci-fi check out Richard Morgan, Peter F. Hamilton, Iain Banks, Alastair Reynolds, and now, but by no means least, Neal Asher. They're all frightfully good writers!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great British writer, March 23, 2004
By 
The current crop of British sf writers have restored my faith in SciFi. Hamilton, Asher, Morgan, Banks, et all produce superior stories, tech, and characters. The American debut of Gridlinked doesn't disappoint as Asher really delivers the goods with this story of revenge, xenoc explorations, a hi-tech universe and enough action to really get your heart pumping. What a refreshing change after so much of the mindless drivel that passes for Science Fiction these days, especially the Star Wars series, Star Trek , Honor Harrington and all the rest that passes itself off as scifi. Am I just ranting or do other's feel this way?
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Total Immersion into a Future World, May 14, 2006
By 
DRob (Arlington, TX United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Gridlinked (Ian Cormac, Book 1) (Mass Market Paperback)
Gridlinked by Neil Asher follows a complex plot that, is at times, hard to understand as it plunks you into a futuristic world without much explanation, although the details of the world are unveiled as you get further into the book, so that by the end, you pretty much know what is going on.

The focus is on two characters, Ian Cormac and John Stanton. Cormac is a Special Agent who has spent many years "gridlinked", mentally linked to the controlling artificial intelligence. Because he is in danger of being subsumed by the AI, he is ordered to disconnect from the grid and conduct a mission on his own. His mission? Find out who destroyed a transport junction called a Runcible, killing 20,000 people in the process?

The other character is John Stanton, a mercenary who is working for Arian Pelter, leader of a group that claims the goal of wanting to separate from the government, but largely concerned with enriching their own pockets. Pelter is a dangerous man, even more so because Cormac's last assignment before he disconnected from the grid was to infiltrate Pelter's group. In the process of doing so, he kills Pelter's sister, Angelina, and Pelter vows to kill him.

If you're confused yet, that's okay, because if you stick with it, everything does settle itself out in the end and even makes sense. It's kind of like total immersion, though because Asher tosses all the terms around as though we should know what they mean, so it's like entering a world where everyone speaks a foreign language but you. By the end of the book, however, you'll be as fluent as anybody else.

Cormac, himself, is a pretty one-dimensional character, largely because he's spent most of his life with his mind linked to the AI so he's almost forgotten what it's like to be human. It is easier for him to relate to the androids that also populate this universe than to the humans.

The more interesting character is John Stanton who, for his own reasons, sticks with Pelter as Pelter descends further and further into uncontrollable madness.

Asher gives a fascinating picture into a somewhat frightening future. At the end he brings everything together into an incredibly taut and complex resolution-- I wanted to skim quickly through it because I was so eager to find out what would happen, but I had to force myself to slow down and read it thoroughly so I wouldn't miss any important details. It's not a light read, under any circumstances, but it is a good one.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars We need More Asher!, April 23, 2005
This review is from: Gridlinked (Ian Cormac, Book 1) (Mass Market Paperback)
Tor has been picking up a number of SF novels that were first published in the UK, and giving them an American debut. And in doing so, we here in the US are blessed by getting access to some really good books. Neal Asher's Gridlinked is a case in point.

The universe of this book (and others by Mr. Asher) is connected by "Runcibles" (based on the Owl and the Pussycat poem by Edward Lear). Asher has a great time with the Artificial Intelligences who control the Runcibles as well as the "Polity", but he also has created cool fighting men-machines called Golems, the most vicious of which is "Mr. Crane". "Crane" because he is tall and thin, "Mr." because he is psychotic, and one would not want to be on his bad side.

The primary character is Cormac, who has been linked to the computer grid (in other words "gridlinked") for 3 decades. After 20 years, one begins to lose one's humanity, and this is happening to super agent Ian Cormac. Imagine James Bond in the 25th Century. Unfortunately, what we find of Cormac in Gridlinked doesn't come near to fulfilling all the hype that is mentioned in the various news articles and book excerpts that try to add our understanding of the milieu of the Gridlinked universe. And the sense of disconnect that Cormac should feel just doesn't come through. He just sort of shrugs his shoulders and soldiers on.

That having been said, this is an enjoyable book. Quite unnecessarily heavy on the foul language, but that's just MY idiosyncracy. We find the answers to the mystery of why a Runcible blew up, wiping out a planet, and who, or what is behind the explosion, and is feeding information to Cormac's enemy, a terrorist who was left alive after Cormac killed his sister (also a terrorist), and whose descent into madness is very well delineated.

Lotsa space battles, violence, and derring-do, and when you read this you will be motivated to find more books by Mr. Asher.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional debut from brilliant writer, July 31, 2003
By 
At first, it may seem that the pace is maybe a little too quick, and that Asher has so much story that he has to squeeze it in. But that's probably just me - it does take me a little while to get to grips with a new book, even if it does feature a universe with which I'm quite familiar. Angelina Pelter may be swiftly dispatched by the fast moving Ian Cormac at the very beginning of this novel, but Cormac's master does allow us to catch up by ordering the removal of his gridlink. Cormac is warned that staying gridlinked for so long may well have dehumanised him. Horace Blegg, Cormac's legendary boss, decides to interrupt Cormac's current mission involving the Separatists on Cheyne III to dispatch him to Samarkand, which has unfortunately been devastated by the destruction of a runcible gate. Thus Asher cleverly gets us to identify with Cormac, since the secret agent seeks to regain his own identity. There's a quote in the novel which says that Neal Asher is just as good as John Meaney. However, where Asher supersedes John Meaney is in the strength of his characterisation (to such an extent that Cormac's strong line on crime and punishment could be jeopardized).
Neal Asher's science is also good. The Runcible mode of transport seems much in line with the recent discovery of black holes at the centre of galaxies (and Asher has been writing about Runcible technology for quite a while). Where Neal Asher has always seemed strongest is in his creation of biological entities - mycelium and pseudopods are real science. However, Gridlinked has also finally revealed that Asher does have quite a whimsical tone. It's a delight to finally discover that the Polity's mode of transport was named after the runcible spoon in Edward Lear's nonsense rhyme 'The Owl and the Pussycat'. Some readers may think that the Polity is a bit like Iain M. Banks' Culture. However, Neal Asher is a bit of an expert in the martial arts, so he's far more knowledgeable about flying shuriken than other writers in this field. Besides, Banks didn't invent AI, as Asher reminds us by nicknaming Earth Central 'Hal'. There's a bit of Arthur C. Clarke in other ways - Dragon is a mysterious godlike being. But Asher also seems to have gone to the very depths of Science Fiction, by utilizing Prometheus in a way that Mary Shelley would have approved of (Dragon turns up in Frankenstein Monster mode, with exceedingly uncharitable thoughts towards its creator). The fantastic Golem android Mr Crane also gets to do his Bela Lugosi impersonation. Asher might have also been reading some literary studies on science fiction - note the term he uses when Dragon produces the first Dracoman on Aster Colora. Although Dragon doesn't have teeth like Spielberg's Jaws, he still has a considerable bite with the help of his pseudopods.
The mention of a creature called 'Dragon' jars at first. But Asher has given his leviathan a character which can be greatly appreciated. Certainly, this seems to be the closest that Asher has ever come to replicating the fantasy narrative that he employed in his first (unpublished) novel. The wolverine substance of adamantium seems to be a marvel too, but Asher's use comes from the fall of Mordor in The Lord of the Rings. Like the great Victorian Gothic novels, today's 'Western' fiction still seems alternatively fascinated and appalled by the East, most notably here in the `presence' of Horace Blegg. Although the concept of the 'dinosauroid' may have entered the realm of the players of fantasy games, it does have an actual basis in fact: Dr. Dale Russell is a real palaeontologist. I was also delighted to see that Asher named Samarkand after the city on the Great Silk Road. Movie makers looking for the next 'Matrix' or 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' would do well to come knocking on Neal Asher's door.
I suppose I was a bit concerned that Anti-Grav Cars modelled on the Ford Cortina might date this novel, along with the pop tune (more Culture Club than Culture is 'Melting Pot'), but the longevity of Edward Lear's nonsense rhyme can be a powerful excuse - we just don't know what part of popular culture will survive in the years to come. Gridlinked deserves to live on, and there is much left in the Asher universe to explore (I was very happy to see mention of the gruesome leeches from 'Spatterjay' again). It turns out the retro Anti-Grav cars are also staple of the Asher universe - they were first mentioned in the Runcible Tale Blue Holes and Bloody Waters. Oh, and did I mention that Neal Asher also has great wit? The novel explicitly compares Cormac with James Bond - the book Bond, rather than the movie Bond, I'd say - Cormac is hard, but fair. The baddies may die in gruesome ways, but Cormac doesn't stand round trying to think of dismissive quips or pointless eulogies. Much of the humour comes from the excellent intros to each chapter (it's the best guide I've read to Asher's Universe). Gridlinked is a fast-paced action cyber-thriller which could beat the sushi out of The Matrix on any day of the week. And the good news is that Neal Asher's novel The Skinner is even better.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great science fiction, July 25, 2006
By 
John Markley (Oak Lawn, IL USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Gridlinked (Ian Cormac, Book 1) (Mass Market Paperback)
Gridlinked is very solid enjoyable space opera/action story. I found the A.I.-ruled Polity to be an interesting setting. The story moves at a nice, quick pace, and made me want to keep reading. In particular, the central mystery of the enigmatic alien Dragon's true nature and intentions kept me interested in what would happen next. The action scenes are exciting and well done, though not for the squeamish. I liked the characters quite a bit- Ian Cormac is a likable hero who has an interesting psychological challenge to deal with, the psychological and moral progression of the mercenary John Stanton is well done, and the terrorist Arian Pelter is very good as a villain.

The setting is a futuristic A.I.-ruled human society called the Polity. Travel throughout the Polity is accomplished principally through teleportation devices called "runcibles," which can turn people into energy and instantly transmit them across light-years. I rather like the way Asher addresses the idea of rule by machine intelligences- it is portrayed as neither a cure-all for social ills, nor as some sort of oppressive dystopian nightmare.

I have two complaints. First, I wish more had been done with Cormac's adjustment to living without his gridlink. There's a lot of potential in the idea, and I don't think the book fully exploited the possibilities. Second, the ending seemed a bit rushed. These are only minor problems, however, and I definitely recommend the book, and look forward to reading more by Asher.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb second wave cyberpunk, October 21, 2003
By A Customer
Every line of this debut novel crackles with energy and ideas. The backdrop is a society enhanced by connectivity (the Grid of the title) and cross-galaxy travel made possible by runcible technology; the plot has all the kinetic force of a runaway bullet train. I'm reminded of Bruce Sterling's Schismatrix, but I think Grindlinked tops that one for pure joy of reading. Buy it.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I found everything about this dry, November 30, 2007
By 
Raithe (Alexandria, VA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Gridlinked (Hardcover)
A feeling of detachment and apathy permeated my reading experience of British author Neal Asher's 2001 science fiction debut GRIDLINKED. The characters failed to capture, the plotting and pacing sagged while the fragmented prose stuttered. As with any science fiction and fantasy novel, world building and settings factor significantly because the SFF story's backdrop lies outside of a contemporary or historical setting. Although GRIDLINKED adequately builds its universe, I felt its clunky and tediously scientific prose swallowed any potential wonder or excitement in GRIDLINKED's universe. The science fiction What-If scenario in GRIDLINKED? Matter-transmitting "runcibles" controlled by AIs allow humankind to literally step from world to world light years apart. A threat to exploiting this technology forms the foundation of this novel. GRIDLINKED contains an overwhelming element of mystery in its characters (Dragon, the Japanese demigod Horace Blegg) and suspense in the plotting (Dragon's motives, Cormac's mysterious scheme at the end). A story may spell things out for its readers, essentially dumbing it down, or it may intentionally leave readers in the dark by obfuscating the prose. Instead of some balance in the delivery of the mystery, I thought GRIDLINKED chose the later in the extreme to the point of disinterest (fogging the prose and mystifying characters and their intentions to the point of apathy). There's terrorizing Separatists who detest AI's growing role in the universe, sympathetic mercenaries, mysterious dragons, androids, and our James-Bond agent in the center of it all: Ian Cormac. Unlike some science fiction novels, the AIs here aren't "bad" and they represent an extension of humanity. In fact the AIs exhibit more emotion and attitude than the characters. Like a quote in the novel, I found Ian Cormac's character characterless, and I just didn't care about our mercenary John Stanton or Stanton's lover Jarvellis whose boring perspective appears in droves later in the novel.

I immediately compared James-Bond agent Ian Cormac with a book I read recently: Richard K. Morgan's Takeshi Kovacs, and boy, is Kovacs hundred times more interesting. Morgan's gritty protagonist makes for wondrous world building and a hard-boiled detective story in ALTERED CARBON (****). In terms of a gripping plot, pace and characterizations, Asher's GRIDLINKED pales by comparison.

Possible SPOILERS ahead.

At the end of the day, not only did the book bore me, but I failed to understand the point of it all. Maybe I just didn't get it, but nor did I want to; the book tried too hard to sustain a measure of suspense and mystery over 400 pages into a 426-page hardcover. The Dragon implicates the Maker in the destruction of Samarkind, Dragon wants Cormac to kill the Maker, Cormac agrees, but in the end, concocts a sheme to renege on his promise to Dragon after learning the Maker isn't all bad, and along the way he faces off against the psychopath Pelter. Oh and the mercenary Stanton (originally with Pelter) and his love interest the smuggler Jarvellis find each other after much hardship. Did I miss anything? It all seemed too dumb and the boring content and prose didn't help.
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Gridlinked (Ian Cormac, Book 1)
Gridlinked (Ian Cormac, Book 1) by Neal L. Asher (Mass Market Paperback - September 1, 2004)
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