The Departure

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…



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Reviews:Falcata Times 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.

Pippa Jay on Fantasy Book Review wrote:

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.

Cybermage 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.

Saxon Bullock on SFX wrote:

...delivers plenty of thrills, and the climax also sets up a very intriguing status quo for the second volume.

SFFWorld wrote:

...this is a book with lots of Asher trademarks: rapid pace, great action, messy consequences

World in Ink wrote:

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.

Samizdata 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.

P R Kaye 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.

David Agranoff 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.

Mark Yon on sffworld wrote:

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)

Zero Point

The billions of Zero Asset citizens of Earth are free from their sectors, free from the prospect of extermination from orbit, for Alan Saul has all but annihilated the Committee by dropping the Argus satellite laser network on it. The shepherds, spiderguns and razorbirds are somnolent, govnet is down and Inspectorate HQs are smoking craters. But power abhors a vacuum and, scrambling from the ruins, comes Serene Galahad. She must act before the remnants of Committee power are overrun by the masses. And she has the means.

Var Delex knows that Earth will eventually reach out to Antares Base and, because of her position under Chairman Messina, knows that the warship the Alexander is still available. An even more immediate problem is Argus Station hurtling towards the red planet, with whomever, or whatever trashed Earth still aboard. Var must maintain her grip on power and find a way for them all to survive.

 As he firmly establishes his rule, Alan Saul delves into the secrets of Argus Station: the results of ghastly experiments in Humanoid Unit Development, a madman who may hold the keys to interstellar flight and research that might unlock eternity. But the agents of Earth are still determined to exact their vengeance, and the killing is not over..

Publisher: Tor
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Reviews:Walker of Worlds wrote:

...Zero Point is a thoroughly enjoyable novel with some very interesting ideas. Asher doesn't fail in making this second volume of the Owner trilogy a step up from The Departure, adding in plenty to keep the pages turning. For those familiar with his Owner short stories there are some nice treats in store, and for those that haven't.... well, what are you waiting for? In short, Zero Point is well worth reading, and I will be very much looking forward to Jupiter War!

I Will Read Books wrote:

I practically devoured Zero Point in a few lengthy reading sessions. The book was a real page turner. Neal Asher's trademarks were all there, action, imagination and great world building. All the story arcs are of the kind where you just want to read one last chapter before turning the lights off, and then it turns to two, then three. Just like The Departure I get the feeling we have still only scratched surface of what lies hidden in The Owner universe. I will be there for part three.

Fantasy Book Review wrote:

In the meantime I’m back to my stack of unread Asher books. However much he might make me squirm and give me brain ache, I get a kick out of reading his work and seeing how hard sci-fi should really be done.

Starglider wrote:

Overall, pretty good. I'd say overall the first novel was a bit better because of the novelty of the characters and tech, but the end on the second was much more of a page turner for me.

PR Kaye wrote:

Asher again balances the tension and action beautifully in this novel, and I can’t wait to read the next one.

Fantasy Book Review wrote:

While The Departure might have shifted away from what some consider typical Asher, Zero Point brings it back. It doesn’t have homicidal aliens and deadly ancient tech, but it has all the explosive action scenes and various humans having chunks carved out of them that you might expect of his work. I know the Owner books have taken some flack for not being standard fare, but that’s part of the appeal for me.

In the meantime I’m back to my stack of unread Asher books. However much he might make me squirm and give me brain ache, I get a kick out of reading his work and seeing how hard sci-fi should really be done.