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War Factory: Transformation Book Two Hardcover – May 3, 2016
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Asher ventures into some terrifying minds and incredible space battles in this tangled but heart-pounding sequel, which achieves a rare success in depicting truly nonhuman forms of intelligence.”
War Factory contains everything that is good about Asher’s writing . . . Nobody does science fiction like Neal Asher, and War Factory is yet more proof of that.”
War Factory is the best science fiction book I’ve read this year and the Transformation trilogy is already among my favourite Space Opera series ever. Do I need to say more? Just go and read it!”
Sense of Wonder
War Factory is the ultimate space opera and military sci-fi thriller.”
Manhattan Book Review
War Factory is full of weird science and space, lots of complex characters, and healthy amounts of body horror. . . . an exercise in trusting the author, and I’m sufficiently impressed enough to continue to do so.”
Nerds of a Feather
Through all this violent action run questions of moral responsibility, justice and revenge, nature and nurture, redemption, restitution, collateral damage, and other matters that a mere carnival (or carnivore) ride would not bother to address. (I write this with some trepidation, having just viewed Captain America: Civil War. But, no, Asher does it better.)”
Praise for Dark Intelligence
"Beautifully paced ... does just as well as at slam-bang action scenes as at painting frightening pictures ... This is space opera at a high peak of craftsmanship."
Publishers Weekly, starred review
What Asher delivers here is state-of-the-art SF on so many levels a compelling, smart read.”
Paul Di Filippo, Locus
"Blends large portions of horror and mystery into an SF tale of revenge and redemption ... a complex and satisfying work."
Library Journal, starred review
"An exciting, intricate, and unabashedly futuristic story rife with twists and turns ... Asher returns to his popular far-future series, Polity Universe, with another fast-paced space opera filled with his trademark technological marvels and elaborate world building."
"Hardboiled, fast-paced space opera epic ... Asher’s books are similar to the world of Iain M. Banks’ Culture universe, but the Polity is arguably a much darker and more vicious environmentand all the better for it."
"Perpetually on the knife's edge, and this constant tension works wonders for creating a page-turning atmosphere. It's a damningly gripping and infecting book."
"A superb novel and Asher has an amazing talent for world-building, for writing larger-than-life characters, for weaving gripping plots and for imagining exotic alien races and wonderful technologies. Huge ships! Big weapons! Space battles! Ground battles! Treason! Revenge! This is New Space Opera at its best."
Sense of Wonder
"One of his best works so far ... Asher is a modern master of sci-fi."
[The Polity books] are SF novels that mix early cyberpunk’s insouciance with the widescreen baroque spectacle of space opera and the pacing of an airport action-thriller. But even by Neal Asher’s standards, there’s something particularly grisly about Dark Intelligence.”
Praise for Neal Asher
Asher rocks with XXX adrenaline while delivering a vivid future.”
David Brin, New York Times-bestselling author of Kiln People
What has six arms, a large beak, looks like a pyramid, has more eyes than you’d expect, and talks nonsense? If you don’t know the answer to that, then 1) you should and 2) you haven’t been reading Neal Asher (see point 1).”
Jon Courtenay Grimwood
Projects the terror-haunted sensibility of our time into a future of limitless brutality . . . Asher displays great virtuosity.”
The New York Times
Asher has lit up the sky of science fiction like a new sun.”
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The same cast of characters are in play - human, haiman, prador and AI - including the increasingly amazing Penny Royal, which drives all the action but as we progress though the novel the purpose behind its cryptic maneuvers seems little clearer. Which I liked to be honest. Because there is of necessity a degree of predictability in how each particular aspect of the plot falls out, but the intent or purpose behind it all remains opaque. Though I do harbor a suspicion that the Godlike Earth AI knows full well what is going on and endorses Penny Royal's behavior and objectives.
Asher adds a significant new capability to his Polity universe (at least I can't recall reading it before and I've pretty much read 'em all) that has everybody terrified, but it's a great way to deal with some of the apparent imbalance between Penny Royal and everyone else hunting it down. We also learn some stuff about the prador that will be interesting in upcoming novels.
I generally enjoyed "War Factory". It has Asher's usual array of weapons and flashbacks and politics with alternating character points of view - though never Penny Royal directly, that is all inferred - building up to a cliff hanger ending. It is a great addition to the Polity universe and I am looking forward to the next installment...even though I know I'll have forgotten much of the details in this one by then!
What I really like about this book (and mind you Asher is my favorite author) has always been his world building and nuanced characters. Never before has he delved so far into the Prador biology; their mating habits, dietary needs and social behavior. Considering that they are the frequently used brutal protagonists in his books, this was an insightful treat only made better by the appearances of a few unique prador, one such who even dabbles in...art!
Also, unlike his other works, the humans definitely take a back seat to the god-like manipulations of A.I., not even including Penny Royal. The Brockle makes his appearance as a player in the great game of destiny. As an A.I. that is just as terrifying as Penny Royal, if not more, this Prison Warden/Interrogation A.I. becomes obsessed with bringing the rogue Penny Royal to justice, even at the threat of incurring the wrath of the main Polity protector, Earth Central.
Artificial Intelligences aren't the only ones to steal the show though, as really, the Prador are the most fascinating characters in the work. Sverl, the mutated tripartite being (part human, part Prador, part A.I.), Cvorn, the cyber-augmented Prador vowing to hunt Sverl as a pawn to take over the Prador empire, Sfolk, the gutsy upstart renegade, Bsorol and Bsectil, Sverl's emphatically evolving first children and the ever elusive, mysterious King of the Prador. Each one of their narratives shine on the page!
The usual, spectacular Asher staples are present throughout the work, with masers, CTDs, rail guns, planet busters, gaitling guns, hardfields and U-space tech. There are intense space ship battles, heart-pounding action and shocking deaths and destruction, but also as usual the story attacks the brain as much as the action hits the pulse.
As I finish this book and eagerly await the 3rd, I will admit that I have no idea where the story is headed, but I eagerly look forward to finding out as the ending of this book was not exactly easy to get over.