Stepping away from the Polity universe of Asher’s previous two novels, Cowl deals with a far-future war between two factions of humanity, the Heliothane and the Umbrathane. The eponymous Cowl is a force-bred evolved human who has time-traveled back to the time when life began on Earth and is attempting to do … well, something. To assist, Cowl has the Tor Beast, a vast, ravenous being that sheds tors, small organic time machines that meld with its victims and send them back in time to Cowl as part of some sort of research Cowl is doing.
Trapped by tors in a bleak near-future are Tack, a vat-bred killer without a personality, and Polly, a teenage drug-abusing prostitute.
And then things happen. A lot of things. Things that really never make sense.
Apart from the byzantine plot, the biggest problem with Cowl is that it has no likable or interesting characters for the reader to care about, so it’s a bit of a slog to get through.
On the plus side, Asher has clearly thought very hard about the mechanics of time travel and also throws in a lot of really interesting biology as our protagonists travel back in time to the beginning of life.
But it’s hard to care.
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Posted Saturday, 30 September, 2006 by Nic Lindh
Another book roundup, including some stellar athletes and soldiers, what might be the most jaded, soul-weary protagonist ever, and some grimdark fantasy.
The Internet is getting creepy, and Nic is breaking out his tinfoil hat after newspaper paywalls push him over the edge.
Nic is tired of tech sites obsessing over Apple’s financials and business strategy. So very tired.
Nic reads a book about the processed food industry and is incensed.
Computers are complicated. This brings out the irrational in people.
Nic proposes the loan word Rechthaberei be incorporated into American English.
The Core Dump is back! Books were read during the hiatus. Includes The Coldest Winter, Oh, Myyy!, Tough Sh*t, The Revolution Was Televised, The Rook, Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, Gun Machine, Fortress Frontier, Standing in Another Man’s Grave, and The Memory of Light.
This site will return in February.
From a true patriot to a world-weary detective, a dead god, and a civilization about to sublime from the galaxy, this book roundup spans the gamut. Includes Where Men Win Glory, Wild, Inside the Box, The Black Box, Three Parts Dead, Red Country, and The Hydrogen Sonata.
Springsteen gives a concert in Phoenix. It’s fantastic.