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Gridlinked - Neal Asher - NEW Book

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Gridlinked - Neal Asher -  NEW Book

Gridlinked - Neal Asher - New Book

Paperback

The book follows two main narrative threads: one which follows the exploits of Ian Cormac, a 007-like agent from ECS (Earth Central Security), and another thread which follows the story of Arian Pelter and his band of Separatists from Cheyne III. Cormac is internally "gridlinked" to the ECS AI grid, allowing him realtime mental access and control to most devices on the ECS network. The book opens with a Runcible disaster on the ice planet Samarkand, which was in the process of being terraformed by the heat pollution of the Runcible. The incident destroys a significant area of the planet's surface, while the loss of Runcible heat output plunges the rest of the planet into unsurvivable temperature ranges. On Cheyne III, Cormac has infiltrated the Separatists by becoming the lover of Angelina Pelter - sister of Arian Pelter. She and Arian have become suspicious of Ian, primarily due to his increasingly non-human perspective on human affairs, a problem induced by years of being gridlinked. Cormac is forced to kill Angelina and dispose of her body at sea. After a chase across the city, Arian and his main henchman John Stanton have a shootout with Cormac, during which Arian receives a serious facial injury, and Cormac is called away to look into the Samarkand incident, leaving Arian and his crew at large.

Cormac takes a space shuttle to Cereb, the location of the nearest Runcible. While in flight, he runs into Horace Blegg, who briefs him on the Samarkand mission. Blegg informs him that the Samarkand incident was no accident, and also suggests that Cormac disconnect his gridlink, as he has been connected for too long a period of time and is becoming dehumanized. Upon his arrival to Cereb, Cormac takes a Runcible to Minostra, where he boards the starship Hubris for a voyage to Samarkand, where they will conduct an investigation and install a new Runcible. At Samarkand, they discover a not-quite-sane submind of the destroyed Runcible AI. After investigating a heat source at a remote outpost, they find two alien creatures able to live in the extreme conditions. Cormac calls them dracomen, and recognizes them as the products of Dragon, an alien entity he encountered decades ago on Aster Colera; they bring the dracomen back to the Hubris. Subsequent probing of the Runcible site reveals that the Runcible buffers were sabotaged by a nanomycelium, which is still present, endangering the installation of a new Runcible. They also quickly learn that the dracomen have brought the nanomycelium aboard the Hubris, and certain sections of the ship begin to dissolve; the dracomen also inform Cormac that Dragon is on his way. The Hubris AI starts to manufacture and deploy nanomycelium counteragents, both on ship and on the surface of Samarkand. Subsequently, a tunnel is discovered in a remote area of Samarkand, which clearly has non-natural origins. Cormac leads a small team to investigate, and finding that the tunnel is guarded by a large robot, engage in combat that destroys the creature and Cento, and leads to the death of Gant. At the bottom of the shaft they find an empty artefact made of adamantium. The Hubris is attacked by Dragon (actually part thereof, Dragon having disconnected its four component spheres some time previously), who forcibly takes the dracomen. A discussion with Dragon indicates that the artefact held something called Maker, which Dragon claims was responsible for the nanomycelium, and who is now missing from the planet. Dragon allows the crew to install the Runcible, and Cormac uses the new Runcible AI to query the old Samarkand submind, and is able to conclude that Maker left Samarkand before the Runcible incident - its destination Veridian. Cormac decides to follow through the new Runcible, taking the two dracomen along.

Meanwhile back on Cheyne III, Pelter and Stanton have been repaired by black-market surgeon Sylac, and Arian has had a particularly hideous aug installed in his head. Pelter becomes obsessed with finding and killing Cormac after recovering his sister's headless body. They then pull Mr. Crane out of storage, and escape from Chyene III on a smuggling ship piloted by Jarvellis. Although Pelter intends to press on to Samarkand, he first makes port at Huma to pick up the necessary weaponry. They find many of the inhabitants on Huma wearing a new type of aug created by a company known as DragonCorp, and Pelter and his crew are all outfitted with them, except for Stanton. While the new aug feeds Pelter additional information about Cormac, he finds his new aug battling with his old one. The Pelter gang is soon acquired and tracked by a group of ECS agents; Pelter and his crew take out the agents one-by-one, including their Golem Twenty agent - who is no match for the Golem Twenty-five Mr. Crane. Communicating directly with Dragon through his new aug, Pelter is told that he will find Cormac on Veridian.

On Veridian, Cormac makes his way to the Magadar forest, the last known coordinates of Maker, taking a small group of planetary regulars with him. Pelter and his crew glide down to Veridian in a cameleonware dropship, evading the notice of the Veridian AI. Pelter determines Cormac's location by bribing some members of the planetary army. A protracted battle then takes place in the forest; Cormac's crew kills Pelter's crew, the Golems Cento and Aiden take out Mr. Crane, and Cormac drills a hole through Pelter's head with his thin-gun. Able to focus on Maker, he detonates a CTD, forcing Maker back toward the Veridian Runcible. Cormac passes through first, deliberately damages the Samarkand Runcible buffers with a proton weapon, and after flying out of range observes the obliteration of the Samarkand Runcible as the Maker presumably passes through. There is no explanation as to the Maker, its origins or motivations. There is no explanation as to why the Maker followed Cormac and crew through the Runcible or why Cormac damaged the runcible on Samarkand II. Not finished, Cormac takes a dracoman to the Hubris, seals him in an isolation chamber, and leaves orbit. Infuriated, Dragon follows, attacks the ship, and pulls the chamber out. After putting distance between the Hubris and Dragon, Cormac presses a button, igniting the CTD stored in the chamber, taking out Dragon. Maker then comes through the Runcible for real, and congratulates Cormac on finding the true saboteur of the Samarkand Runcible.

About the Author Neal Asher

Neal Asher (born 1961 in Billericay, Essex, England) is an English science fiction writer. His parents both are educators and science fiction fans. Although he began writing Science Fiction and Fantasy in high school, Asher did not turn seriously to writing till he was 25. He worked as a machinist and machine programmer from 1979 to 1987 and as a gardener from 1979 to 1987. He published his first short story in 1989. His novel, Gridlinked was published in 2001, the first in a series of novels made up of Gridlinked, The Line of Polity, Brass Man, Polity Agent, and The Line War.

Asher's novels, with one exception, and most of his short fiction, are all set within one future history, known as the "Polity" universe. The Polity encompasses many classic science fiction tropes including world-ruling artificial intelligences, androids, hive minds, aliens and time travel. His novels are characterized by fast paced action and violent encounters. While his work is frequently epic in scope and thus nominally space opera, its graphic and aggressive tone is more akin to cyberpunk. When combined with the way that Asher's main characters are usually acting to preserve social order or improve their society (rather than disrupt a society they are estranged from), these influences could place his work in the subgenre known as postcyberpunk.

Gridlinked - Neal Asher - New Book

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