War Factory by Neal Asher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Jacket Blurb: Thorvald Spear,
resurrected from his death over a hundred years earlier, continues to
hunt Penny Royal, the rogue AI and dangerous war criminal on the run
from Polity forces. Beyond the Graveyard, a lawless and deadly area in
deep space, Spear follows the trail of several enemy Prador, the
crab-like alien species with a violent history of conflict with
Sverl, a Prador genetically modified by Penny Royal and
slowly becoming human, pursues Cvorn, a Prador harboring deep hatred
for the Polity looking to use him and other hybrids to reignite the
dormant war with mankind.
Blite, captain of a bounty hunting
ship, hands over two prisoners and valuable memplants from Penny Royal
to the Brockle, a dangerous forensics entity under strict confinement on
a Polity spaceship that quickly takes a keen interest in the corrupted
AI and its unclear motives.
Penny Royal meanwhile continues to
pull all the strings in the background, keeping the Polity at bay and
seizing control of an attack ship. It seeks Factory Station Room 101, a
wartime manufacturing space station believed to be destroyed. What does
it want with the factory? And will Spear find the rogue AI before it
War Factory, the second book in the
Transformation trilogy, is signature space opera from Neal Asher:
breakneck pacing, high-tech science, bizarre alien creatures, and
gritty, dangerous far-future worlds.
July 2017 book group selection.
I just love Asher's books - big grandiose space opera, great aliens that kinda beg the question - exactly who is the alien here - Artificial Intelligence's that are just as alien as any thing else floating around the universe, and awesome character development (or redevelopment?)
In Dark Intelligence, the reader watched the transformation of Isobel Santomi from human to hooder. In War Factory, the reader watches as Sverl turns from Prador into a triumvirate of Prador, AI, and human. Penny Royal had a hand in both instances, and the humans, AI's and aliens he touches are changed in ways only the AI understands while leaving his - victims - with more questions than answers.
War Factory is, basically, a transition book - characters from book one are moved along per Penny Royal's plans, and set up for the next book. And, as I've found in transition books, this became a tich long in the tooth. For myself, I could have used a bit less of the moving characters into place like chess pieces. I admit, I got very fidgety about the last 100 pages.
Oh heaven's, I really have no idea how to summarize this...Asher's books are like that. Penny Royal is driving everything as he manipulates the players to congregate on the Factory Station Room 101. But as I noted above, this is Sverl's story - Sverl and the War Drone Riss, Sverl and Cvorn, Trent Sobel and the Shell People. On the periphery, is Blite and his crew, and Thorvold Spear.
There is a tremendous amount of stuff going on in a relatively shore span of time. Even when taken in the context of book two of a three book series, this IS Space Opera at it's finest. Recommended if you've read Dark Intelligence, and maybe Prador Moon, Shadow of the Scorpion and The Technician.
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