Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Departure

I just finished reading The Departure (Owner Trilogy 1) by Neal Asher.
Asher has taken the Orwellian nightmare, and pushed it to its horrible, brutal limit using some more modern SF devices such as AI integration. Set a century or so in the future, the world governments have centralized their power into a monolithic, all-controlling, ever wasteful "Committee". Those in power enjoy wealth, while the rest of Earth's twelve billion not only languish in poverty, but are instructed on politically correct thought and constantly monitored to ensure compliance. Those guilty of incorrect thought, are sent for "adjustment" which involves incredible torture and very often termination, including being fed live into an incinerator.
Of course, Asher describes all of the horrors in gloriously intense detail. My favourite part of the Committee control infrastructure was the readergun, which is a massively powerful automatic weapon emplacement with an id-chip reader, programmed to annihilate anyone with an ID on a blacklist, or alternately anyone not on a whitelist. A very nasty control device indeed. Then there is the laser weapon satellite network designed to similarly zero in on and kill individuals.
The story follows Alan Saul's journey of revenge against the Committee, and a particular member of the Inspectorate. It all comes down to control, who has it, who is willing to use it, and how far they are willing to go. Since this is a game of the highest stakes, all the main characters were willing to commit massive amounts of atrocity to achieve their aims and their struggle makes for some hugely violent reading.
Entertaining, satisfying and very dark.

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