[By Nic Lindh on Monday, 31 July 2006]
Take hard SF, mix in a healthy dose of cyberpunk, add a touch of noir and sprinkle ironically with James Bond, and you have the recipe for Neal Asher’s fantastic debut Gridlinked.
The novel takes place in a future where humanity has discovered a way to instantaneously travel vast distances and thus has colonized much of the galaxy, a utopia where almost everybody has a chance to live forever and be as happy as they like; all political decisions are made by dispassionate artificial intelligences that do their utmost to keep things as fair as possible. This is known as The Polity, and of course a minority of people utterly hate it.
The title refers to the state of Polity agent Ian Cormac, who has been gridlinked—plugged in directly to the artificial intelligences—for much longer than is healthy and whose humanity has been drained away by this prolonged intimate contact with the machines.
Gridlinked is fast-paced, ripping with action and ideas, thought-provoking, and above all a solid ball of fun.