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REVIEW

"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.

Harriet Klausner

Reviewed by PNR Group Member
Posted May 29, 2004

SUMMARY

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 . . . and death.

 

The Skinner
by Neal Asher

Tor Books
June 1, 2004
ISBN #0765307375
480 pages
Hardcover
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