Samizdata Review of The Departure

Here’s a review of The Departure from Rob Fisher over on Samizdata. Nice to read a review from someone who actually gets it!

Note on Samizdata from Wikipedia: In 2005, the Guardian claimed that it was ‘by some measures the nation’s most successful independent blog’, with over 15,000 unique visitors a day, and ‘arguably the grandfather of British political blogs’. In 2008, The Observer labelled it as one of the fifty most powerful blogs in the world.

The novel I chose was The Departure, the first of the Owner trilogy. If anything it had too much action for my taste. If Alastair Reynolds writes film noir, Neal Asher writes Bruce Willis and explosions. The science is sensible enough: there are no exotic physics and the technologies discussed are robots, giant space stations and brain-computer interfaces. 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.

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