Like Wellsian war machines the shepherds stride into riots to grab up the ringleaders and drag them off to Inspectorate HQ for adjustment, unless they are in shredding mode, in which case their captives visit community digesters, or rather whatever of them has not been washed down the street drains.
Pain inducers are used for adjustment, and soon the Committee will have the power to edit human minds, but not yet, twelve billion human being need to die before Earth can be stabilized, but by turning large portions of Earth into concentration camps this is achievable, especially when the Argus satellite laser network comes fully online…
Alan Saul has taken a different route to disposal, waking as he does inside a crate on the conveyor into the Calais incinerator. How he got there he does not know, but he does remember the pain and the face of his interrogator. Janus speaks to Saul through the hardware implanted in his skull, sketching the nightmare world for him. And Saul decides to bring it all crashing down…
Pippa Jay on Fantasy Book Review wrote:
All in, I had an absolute blast with this book and if you haven’t tried Neal’s work before this would be a good place to start as it has a fairly familiar feel to the reader. Add to this the additional skills picked up from previous titles and his work really does get better and better. Great fun all in and a title that I really think should get some decent recognition.
There’s certainly no lull in the action as Asher paints Saul’s trail of destruction and the nightmare world he seeks to bring down.
Saxon Bullock on SFX wrote:
I want to know what happens next. I don’t think The Departure is for everyone but it is a good standard fare science fiction with a bit of social critique and a lot of action.
...delivers plenty of thrills, and the climax also sets up a very intriguing status quo for the second volume.
World in Ink wrote:
...this is a book with lots of Asher trademarks: rapid pace, great action, messy consequences
The Departure makes Orwell’s 1984 look like a utopia in comparison. The future Neal imagines is far more disturbing due to the Committee’s absolute disregard for human life. They possess both the technology for constant surveillance as well as the weaponry to extinguish human lives by the millions, something the government in 1984 never had.
P R Kaye wrote:
The politics is very interesting. Asher seems to have perceived a slippery slope and extrapolated in the extreme. Something like the EU has, thanks to a complacent populace, taken over the whole planet. This is the Committee and it has long since stopped pretending to be democratic and gone outwardly Orwellian. Cigarettes are illegal; armed robots are used to control rioting crowds; selfish, individualistic dissidents are taken away for readjustment by pain inducer; and clever scientists are allowed to do research useful to the state but are considered a risk and kept under scrutiny or even lock and key. The protagonist is one such scientist who sets out to get revenge.
David Agranoff wrote:
This is a very different book to those in the Polity series, dark and gritty with the high levels of violence and waste that occurs when power corrupts humans and they battle each other to enforce their point of view.
Mark Yon on sffworld wrote:
I was busy reading about giant space battles, spider gun robots and 23rd century warfare and revolution. It was a fun wild ride and only after it was done did I realize that Asher and I see a lot of the same problems coming in the future we just don't agree on the root cause. In the end I enjoyed The Departure and I am interested enough in the story that I am going to read the second book when it comes out.
Having watched riots and unrest in my own country over the last few weeks at the time of writing this, though, some of the early scenes here are eerily reminiscent of what could happen. If, as some suggest, SF reflects the time it was written, then perhaps this book fits the bill. – sffworld (Mark Yon)
Old UK cover: