To the remote planet Spatterjay come three travellers with very different missions. Janer is directed there by the hornet Hive-mind; Erlin comes to find the sea captain who can teach her to live; and Keech - dead for 700 years - has unfinished business with a notorious criminal.
Spatterjay is a watery world where the human population inhabits the safety of the Dome and only the quasi-immortal hoopers are safe outside amidst a fearful range of voracious life-forms. Somewhere out there is Spatterjay Hoop himself, and monitor Keech cannot rest until he can bring this legendary renegade to justice for atrocious crimes committed centuries ago during the Prador Wars.
Keech does not realise that Hoop's body is running free on an island wilderness, while his living head is confined in a box on an Old Captain's ships. Nor does he know that the most brutal Prador of all is about to pay a visit, intent on wiping out all evidence of his wartime atrocities. Which means major hell is about to erupt in this chaotic waterscape.
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©2009 Neal Asher (P)2010 Audible
This is my first Asher and as far as I'm concerned he's up there now in my top three for concept SF, along with Banks and Reynolds. However I have to agree with Thomas about the seamless transitions in the narration makling the plot difficult to follow. This is a shame as otherwise the reading is excellent, and I'm still giving five because the book is that good. It's a complex plot with a large number of characters so it helps to have a printed copy to refer to if you get confused. I'll be moving on to the other two volumes in the set and then...more Asher please, Audible!
Art student, counsellor, traveler in both time and space, love grim fantasy, literary fiction and good crime. I listen as I paint.
An exciting and imaginative work set on a beautifully realized sea world swarming with many intriguing and dangerous creatures, some of which carry a virus that can prolong human life. Most of the planet is covered in water, with a smattering of tiny islands. The lords here are long-lived sailors and captains, strong and almost indestructible mutated humans, who sail on low-tech vessels harvesting the seas for various creatures and substances. A little bit Master and Commander, except that some of the sailors are female and some of the masts and sails are sentient creatures.
Three companions arrive on Spatterjay for different reasons and find themselves up to their necks in events, danger and trouble of many exotic kinds. The characters are fine, if a little remote - not as deeply explored as I might like - although I did become invested in what happpens to them. There are some very evil baddies, and some very dangerous creatures as well as viruses and other problems to be overcome. In spite of the relentless dangers, there are humorous moments and some of the best characters are non-human, from war drone to Wind-cheater, and laconic AIs. It's rollicking good fun and has some great gory set-pieces and battles.
William Gaminara's reading is perfect. He uses wonderful accents and voices to breathe life into all the characters and helps to add excitement to the unfolding adventures.
Overall this is an absorbing and enjoyable book, and especially engaging on the issue of how humans might deal with much longer lives. It makes things very interesting when much of the motivation is curiosity and the search to alleviate boredom. I will definitely be listening to book 2.
The most noticeable fault with this audiobook is that the cut between scenes are seamless, which makes it quite confusing. In the printed book I guess it is visually obvious when we enter a new scene, one second of silence would have done it for this audiobook. But the words are just flowing in a long stream broken into a few chapters, while the scene cuts can be counted in hundreds.
Apart from that the narrative is good, William Gaminara manages to make an entertaining difference between all of the characters in the book.
Neal Ashers story is well written, loaded with sensations and quite thrilling. But that's about all it is, I finished it two days ago and I have already forgotten the names of more than half of the characters. The name that will probably stick longest is "Sniper", which isn't even a person but a war drone. I guess that says it all about personality development throughout the book.
Indestructible super humans, hive-mind hornets, A.I.s with attitude, and a cop who is a member of cult of Anubis Arisen. And that's just the beginning!!!
I think I have heard this for the 5th time now. Always entertaining. Love sniper!!!!!
This a terrific story, well read. The world is distinctive and original. Can't wait to read the rest of the Spatterjay books.
The characters of Sniper, Ketch and the vile Frisk are superbly drawn. And it's a joy to read a high-tech drone battle that is both creative and yet seems to make visual sense.
Would the producers of the audio please please please please make the pauses between scenes longer than the pauses between normal sentences! It is SO confusing – especially in a book that has cross-cut scenes with three different ships – to run the sentences on. It often takes about a paragraph to realise that the new text is not a continuation of the previous scene.
It is the norm on all audio books, so I can't understand why it was not done on this title.
Couldn't associate with any of the characters nor did I have any idea who I should be concerned for. Well read and probably a good book, just didn't ever grab my attention.
Somehow a Sci Fi story has been successfully mashed with a sea tale for this ambitious but interesting book. It was narrated well but sometimes it was a struggle to work out which ship the narrative was following. Overall though I loved it and will probably listen to it again in a year or two.
"A good story and reader; spacing needs edit"
This was my first Neal Asher story; the authors style is very good, an interesting mix of science fiction, action adventure, space opera, humour, and horror.
The reader is also excellent, his wide range of voices is veery good. The choice of rural english accents may seem odd to american listeners but works very well. Sniper in particular is very well characterised.
The only real failure - as noted by other listeners - is the odd choice of the editor to not leave audible gaps when the character viewpoints change. Its not too distracting as it quickly becomes apparent, but still could do with changing.
This book has led me to listen go/read most of Neal Ashers novels. While they're not in any way mold breaking, they are ripping good yarns, entertaining, and with sufficient intellectual and emotional content to satisfy most readers.
I've now got to the end of the trilogy, and it has proved an interesting voyage. Personally I'd like to hear more of Sniper and 13 adventures, Mr Asher... more please!
"Biology gone wild"
Spatterjay is mostly a water world. Almost every creature in the sea is deadly. The native humans, called hoopers, are almost immortal. They become immortal after one of the many leeches that inhabit the world bites them. The leeches fall from trees, swim in the ocean and can be as small as a bat or as large as a whale.
One of the main characters is a Zombie, he has been dead for 700 years. The book has leeches, sentient AI's, Supermen, a hive mind, a living head, a creature that acts as a sail for ships, rhinoworms, humans who are called blanks because they are mindless slaves to lobster like aliens called Pradors, a woman who lives in another woman's body, etc etc.
The action is constant and Asher's imagination is fantastic. There is lots and lots of gore. At the beginning of the book I was extremely excited and really thought I had found a new fantastic author. Toward the end I was getting worn out and was ready for the book to finish. I will be reading more of Asher's books, I just hope he shortens them a little.
As far as the production and the narrator, I was very disappointed. NA changes from one scene to another and then back again very quickly and often the scenes he is switching to have similar action going on, so I often got confused on what characters I was following. The narrator, who is following how the book is written, uses British accents, which combined with the changing scenes made it hard to follow. The zombie is actual called a reif, but they had to say reif about fifty times before I understood what he was saying.
If you like Card's book "Treason" or Harry Harrison's "West of Eden" or Koontz "Frankenstein" or "Moby Dick" you should like this book.
"Great Asher story"
This is not a space opera like many of Asher's works, instead it's largely confined to one planet. And there is no Cormac, although it takes place in the same universe. If you're a fan of his other Cormac works, why listen to this one? Well, for one, the droids are among the best ones he's written in any of his stories.
And despite being largely planet bound there is tons of action & great characters. Good listen & a great intro to the rest of the spatterjay trilogy!
"Loved this book - great Neal Asher story"
I only wish that Neal Asher's Gridlinked books (written in the same universe but with different characters, although there is some overlap...) were also in audio.
For the uninitiated - Lots of AIs. Space travel through warping. Seriously funny & snarky writing. LOVE the characters. Spatterjay trilogy has very inventive life forms on the planet that are neat and drive the plot along. Highly recommended.
"Still Has Buzz"
I can be easily tempted to listen to Sci-Fi which includes AI’s (artificial intelligence), exotic worlds populated by creatures that hunt and eat humans, and life or death battles using futuristic weapons. All included in “The Skinner”.
Echoing some reviews, I found the book hard to follow. Maybe, it was the editing which failed to provide clues that the scene had changed. Maybe, Neal Asher (author) included so many characters and subplots that I became confused. Or maybe, this is a book best read vs. heard. Whatever the reason, I frequently found myself re-listening to sections of the book.
"A good mixture"
This book is a very interesting mixture of good science fiction and biological theory. The story is not easily predictable and the characters are rich. There are a lot of concepts I have not seen in other sci fi.
Mr. Gaminara's range of voice and accent is wonderful. He is a great reader. I will buy other books that he has narrated without knowing much of about them because I'm sure that he improves the experience of the story.
"Couldn't finish....characters, gore, narration"
I tried but just couldn't finish this book. I never became invested in the characters, the constant gore became distracting, and the narration was not great.
The narrator's regular voice was OK, but his interpretation of characters was poor.
"Enjoyed and moving on to Spatterjay, Book 2 thnx!"
The Skinner was a great story, happy to be moving on to Spatterjay, book 2, The Voyage of the Sable Keech. Many thanks to Neal Asher for this.
"It's like Dune... Backwards"
Water world, abundant tech up to and including AI, complete freedom for citizens (the humans at least).
This is a monster book, buy like a zombie story, monsters are setting not characters.
Themes include justice, redemption, and dealing with immortality.
This is a great place to start reading Neal Asher.
"A bit torn"
I really liked the story, I would highly recommend this, and any Asher book, but I found the narration problematic. William Gaminara does a good job, I think the problem was editing. The point of view switches many times within one chapter and there's no indication of the switch in the narration. We move from one character's sub-plot to the next as if from one sentence to the next in the same paragraph. It was really confusing at times and I feel like I'll have to reread it in paper before I continue the series.
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