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nquixote
August 9th, 2010, 06:11 PM
I have a question for people who have read Neal Asher's Polity novels. I read a short story set in that universe ("Shell Game"); it was lighthearted and amusing. Are his novels also lighthearted and fun?

I have been very dissatisfied in recent years with British sci-fi novelists whose tone is dreary and trudging - Richard Morgan, Alastair Reynolds, and Iain M. Banks being the main offenders. I had avoided Asher because of his association with that same wave of recent British authors. Have I made a mistake?

suciul
August 9th, 2010, 08:55 PM
The Polity novels are hard charging right wing sf with guns, inventiveness, no mercy and a big anticlerical and anti-superstition message; the Cormac series is superb, while the rest is pretty good with The Skinner awesome

No teary eyed Culture liberalism here :)

nquixote
August 9th, 2010, 09:00 PM
Yeah but is it fun and funny?

suciul
August 9th, 2010, 09:58 PM
Yeah but is it fun and funny?

The Polity novels are not light sf but hard action as mentioned; serious "kill the bad guys", impart justice, solve the big picture mysteries stuff, so they are not funny but they are very interesting and entertaining imho.

They have some similarities with the Culture novels but from a right wing, law and order perspective, so it all depends on what you look for. No hard sf like Reynolds or hard left mystery-action like Morgan

nquixote
August 9th, 2010, 10:34 PM
Hmm...maybe all this time I've been getting it wrong, and it's just left-wing British authors who seem to define "characters" as "down-on-their-luck jerks who seem to do alternating nice things and cruel things for no discernible reason," and "plot" as "a series of good and bad events that happens to these 'characters' at random"... ;)

suciul
August 9th, 2010, 11:57 PM
Hmm...maybe all this time I've been getting it wrong, and it's just left-wing British authors who seem to define "characters" as "down-on-their-luck jerks who seem to do alternating nice things and cruel things for no discernible reason," and "plot" as "a series of good and bad events that happens to these 'characters' at random"... ;)

I happen to like the Culture books a lot and Neal Asher's Polity have been compared to those, but while there is a superficial similarity, i think the differences outweigh it quite a lot and partly that is due to the author's ideology that he proudly - and sometimes a bit aggressively displays on his website.

The Polity universe is a very law and order one, where in return fpr accepting AI governance and guidance, humanity is given wealth, leisure and many opportunities, but dastardly separatists, theocrats, aliens and even rogue AI's want to interfere for money, power and what not, so Sheriff Cormac rides the horse - I mean Polity Agent Cormac uses the runcible system and various starships - to make it right...

More "honest" and less introspective than Special Circumstances so maybe you will like it more

Ratatoskr
August 10th, 2010, 03:33 AM
What reading order would you recommend? Internal chronology, publication order or sub-series based? What's the best starting point - Prador Moon, The Skinner or Gridlinked?

chitman13
August 10th, 2010, 03:40 AM
What reading order would you recommend? Internal chronology, publication order or sub-series based? What's the best starting point - Prador Moon, The Skinner or Gridlinked?

Personally I think there are a few options for starting Neal Asher's work. My personal recommendation would be to start with the Spatterjay series: The Skinner, Voyage of the Sable Keech and Orbus. You could also start with the Cormac series: Gridlinked, Line of Polity, Brass Man, Polity Agent and Line War. Other than those he does have some stand alone novels: Shadow of the Scorpion (a Cormac prequel), Hilldiggers, Prador Moon (a prequel of sorts to the Spatterjay books), and finally there's Cowl, a non-polity novel.

Neal also has some colections out there, namely The Gabble and Other Stories (all Polity stories) and also The Engineer ReConditioned (a mix of Polity stories and some stories in other settings). I personally prefer The Engineer ReConditioned as it contains my favourite of all his stories, the Owner stories (Proctors, The Owner, and Tiger, Tiger).

suciul
August 10th, 2010, 09:58 AM
What reading order would you recommend? Internal chronology, publication order or sub-series based? What's the best starting point - Prador Moon, The Skinner or Gridlinked?

I would say Gridlinked is the perfect point to start since it is both the series debut, a standalone and offers an excellent overview of what Polity is about. Then I would follow with the two Cormac duologies - the Jain one comprised by The Line of Polity and Brass Man - and the rogue AI one comprised by Polity Agent and Line War; the pair of novels in each duology comprise more or less the first/second half of a huge novel so they should be read together and both duologies have complete endings of their threads, while Line war ends the whole Cormac sequence very well.

After that I would read Prador Moon and the Cormac prequel Shadow of the Scorpion which are linked between, but less tightly and segue in the Cormac main series, but both of those are better read after you become a fan rather than an introduction.

And then I would read The Skinner and its two sequels (Sable Keech and Orbus) that take place some hundreds of years later and to a large extent on a single planet (not quite true in the case of Orbus)

Hilddigers is more or less a Polity standalone far away in space and centuries ahead in time so it can be read at any time, but again i would not suggest it as an introduction.

As for the collections, they are a nice addition and some of the early stories especially illuminate a little the novels - Cormac's first meeting with Dragon for example - but they are not essential to the storyline.

Personally i used to like The Skinner the most, but after completion I started thinking the Cormac 5-novel series is the best and the last duology Polity Agent/Line War forms the best one huge volume of the author's work and among the best space opera around.

Ratatoskr
August 10th, 2010, 11:20 AM
I would say Gridlinked is the perfect point to start since it is both the series debut, a standalone and offers an excellent overview of what Polity is about. Then I would follow with the two Cormac duologies - the Jain one comprised by The Line of Polity and Brass Man - and the rogue AI one comprised by Polity Agent and Line War; the pair of novels in each duology comprise more or less the first/second half of a huge novel so they should be read together and both duologies have complete endings of their threads, while Line war ends the whole Cormac sequence very well.

After that I would read Prador Moon and the Cormac prequel Shadow of the Scorpion which are linked between, but less tightly and segue in the Cormac main series, but both of those are better read after you become a fan rather than an introduction.

And then I would read The Skinner and its two sequels (Sable Keech and Orbus) that take place some hundreds of years later and to a large extent on a single planet (not quite true in the case of Orbus)

Hilddigers is more or less a Polity standalone far away in space and centuries ahead in time so it can be read at any time, but again i would not suggest it as an introduction.

As for the collections, they are a nice addition and some of the early stories especially illuminate a little the novels - Cormac's first meeting with Dragon for example - but they are not essential to the storyline.

Personally i used to like The Skinner the most, but after completion I started thinking the Cormac 5-novel series is the best and the last duology Polity Agent/Line War forms the best one huge volume of the author's work and among the best space opera around.

Allright. Thanks suciul and chitman for the answers. I'll follow suciul's suggestion and start with Gridlinked and take it from there.