Book: Cowl by Neal Asher 

Alas, only pretty good 

Neal Asher
Tor, 2004
ISBN: 0-765-31512-2
320 pages

I've previously mentioned Neal Asher's novel Gridlinked which I liked very much, even though it's being about someone who's un-gridlinked right at the start. I had similar hopes for Cowl but, alas, it's not as good. It's pretty good, but there are plenty of other novels that I'd suggest you read first.

At the beginning of Cowl, some time in the not-very-distant future, Polly is a fifteen-year-old drug-addicted prostitute. The brother of a dead friend arrives and makes her help him sell a particular artifact to the government. The exchange doesn't go as planned and the artifact, a time-travel device, pulls Polly and the government agent who was there to get it, back in time. There's more than one jump involved and it seems that Polly is heading for a time very long ago where someone called Cowl is trying to prevent humans from ever existing.

It's easy for me to like a book in which people, Spaceman Spiff-wise, fight dinosaurs with hand weapons. And the technique that Mr Asher uses to avoid grandfather paradoxes was new to me and seemed reasonable within the context of the book. But much of the middle of the book seems pretty directionless. We meet some people from the future who are having a complicated feud in the past, but they didn't strike me as being particularly interesting. And the book's ending seems over-complicated. Gridlinked was a lot more entertaining. 

Posted: Fri - September 23, 2005 at 08:54   Main   Category: