Neal Asher followes up his impressive debut novel Gridlinked (my review here) with The Skinner, which takes place in the same Polity universe but with the action focused on the planet Spatterjay, arguably the most dangerous Earth-like planet in the universe, with indigenous life forms straight out of nightmares.
The Skinner deftly weaves space opera and hard noir into a compulsively readable whole, with interesting and well-drawn characters (including a walking 700-year-old police officer corpse), some of the most unpleasant crimes against humanity ever put to page (think the Borg but much worse), and very spunky artificial intelligences.
This is one of those novels that will keep you up till four in the morning.
(As an aside, whoever conceived of and approved of the cover for this novel should be fired immediately. Don’t let it turn you off.)
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