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May 2016
 

The Bellinghman
Date: 2007-03-07 09:26
Subject: #121 Neal Asher: The Line of Polity
Security: Public
Tags:books, reviews
Neal Asher: The Line of Polity

Paperback: 662 pages
Publisher: Tor (31 Mar 2004)
Language English
ISBN-10: 0330484354
ISBN-13: 978-0330484350
Category(ies): Science Fiction

Neal Asher's Polity is a future interstellar federation, run by AIs (because people have more confidence that they'll be fair), but not quite to the extent of Banks's Culture. Not all planets are in the Polity, but in order not to distress too much those independent worlds outside, it requires an obvious majority of a population to want to join the Polity (not to mention ways for a population to be able to leave) before membership can be granted.

Of course, there may well be worlds in which the rulers don't want to join, yet a majority of the population do. In those cases, the Polity will extend membership, just a little more forcefully. And this novel is about one such case - a rather unpleasant society on a planet where people can't breathe without the aid of a symbiote, a symbiote which requires special dietary supplements, said supplements being entirely under the control of a brutal and ruthless religious ruling class. Here, there is no vote for freedom, because how can you vote for something that you don't even know about?

Oh, and there's a Big Not-So-Dumb Object that has a distinct messianic attitude.

This is a fine setup. There's a sense of depth and complexity that can be a little confusing, and it sometimes reads like a sequel due to references to earlier stories set in the same milieu, but I'd far rather have that richness than the bland, genericity of so many future worlds.

Fine Space Opera, most reminiscent to me of Peter Hamilton.
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User: sshi
Date: 2007-03-07 14:06 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:pratchett
Funny, I've just started reading Peter Hamilton and was thinking it was rather like Neal Asher and Alastair Reynolds. That said, I'm not a big fan of the horror element, so I really do think that I may stick to the Asher, particularly as I haven't read all of his published work so far, unlike Reynolds.
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Angelic Eye for the Gendered-Species Individual: OCD much ?
User: rysmiel
Date: 2007-03-07 15:24 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:OCD much ?
It is a sequel; Gridlinked is the first in this series. Brass Man and Polity Agent come after Line of Polity, and The Skinner and Voyage of the Sable Keech are a so-far not directly connected series in the same universe. I find it gets a bit samey after a while in terms of political perspectives and notions of human nature, but is fun every now and again. Cowl is not connected to the Polity universe, and is one of the worst books i've read in the last couple of years; I recommend against.
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The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2007-03-07 15:31 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Ah, thanks.

It's far from obvious which books one should read first. I was about half way through Sable Keech when I saw Line of Polity and, desperate to get things into better order, started in on it instead.

As for Cowl, umm. Definitely no connection there. Time travel books are difficult to get right. But I did prefer it to the Modesitt.
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