"A fascinating work"
Mostly a water planet, Spatterjay has Earth-like gravity
with a breathable atmosphere, but the planet is overrun
with hostile native life forms. There is nothing remotely
similar like them in the known galaxies. Each inhabitant
contains a virus that turns them into nearly invincible
creatures, but at a cost. Once the virus has you, you
must remain native or die. Overwhelmingly most of those
few humans who reside here are infected; for those who are
not have a slim chance of survival.
Three off-worlders arrive that will shake the planetary
order. Once a resident of Spatterjay, Erlin wants to
die. Her only hope to live rests with her former lover
superhuman Old Captain Ambel, if she can find him and he
gives her the will to live. Deceased police monitor
turned cybernetic cop Keech seeks the abusive psychotic
murderers who supported the vicious Prader in the great
war seven centuries ago. On a top-secret mission, Janer
serves as eyes and ears for the Hornet Hive. These three
and others including a rogue Prader come together on an
island that is home of a horror that should frighten all
of them, the Skinner.
As he did with the exciting GRIDLINKED, Neal Asher
furbishes an exhilarant action-packed adventure science
fiction thriller. The Spatterjay escapades hook the
readers as they become acquainted with the various
players, species, monsters that occupy this feral orb.
This is defiantly not Kirk's Star Trek, as readers will
quickly understand the underlying theme of atrocities
caused by species virus or sentient. The final
confrontation on Skinner's Island will have fans wondering
how Neal Asher will top this jaunt into a wild world.
Reviewed by PNR Group Member
Posted May 29, 2004
Neal Asher, whom Tor introduced to the American audience
with Gridlinked, takes us deeper into his unique universe
with an even more remarkable second novel, The Skinner.
On the planet Spatterjay arrive three travelers: Janer,
acting as the eyes of the hornet Hive mind, on a mission
not yet revealed to him; Erlin, searching for Ambel -- the
ancient sea captain who can teach her how to live; and
Sable Keech, on a vendetta he cannot abandon, though he
himself has been dead for 700 years. This remote world is
mostly ocean, and it is a rare visitor who ventures beyond
the safety of the island Dome. Outside it, only the native
Hoopers dare risk the voracious appetites of the planet's
wildlife. But somewhere out there is Spatterjay Hoop -- and
Keech will not rest until he brings this legendary renegade
to justice for hideous crimes committed centuries ago
during the Prador Wars.
While Keech is discovering that Hoop is now a monster --
his body and head living apart from each other -- Janer is
bewildered by a place where the native inhabitants just
will not die and angry when he finally learns the Hive
mind's intentions for him. Meanwhile, Erlin thinks she has
plenty of time to find the answers she seeks, but could not
be more wrong. For one of the most brutal of the alien
Prador is about to pay the planet a surreptitious visit,
intent on exterminating all remaining witnesses to his
wartime atrocities. As the visitors' paths converge, major
hell is about to erupt in a chaotic waterscape where minor
hell is already a remorseless fact of everyday life . . .