Book: Line of Polity by Neal Asher 

Flabby in the middle 

Neal Asher
Line of Polity
Tor, 2004
ISBN: 0 330 48435 4
UKP 7.99
663 pages

A while ago, I mentioned Neal Asher's book Gridlinked which I liked a lot, though I thought it wasn't very tightly plotted in the middle. A little more recently, I mentioned his book Cowl, which I though was pretty directionless in the middle. Alas, the same is true for Line of Polity, and at more than twice the length of Cowl, there's plenty of middle for it to be directionless in.

The Polity of the title is a relatively pleasant society centered on Earth and governed by artificial intelligences. Much of the action takes place on the planet Masada which is slightly outside the Polity's border and where there is a particularly unpleasant sort of theocracy. The Polity would like to take over, but they can't just barge in. They have been working to de-stabilize the theocracy in subtle ways and there is an underground opposition. Agent Iain Cormac of Earth Central Security (whom we met in Gridlinked) ends up there and he's being chased by an evil scientist who has been subsumed by ancient alien technology. A plot like that could be good fun, but in this case, there's just too much stooging around in the middle. For example, there's a sub-plot involving a being that's a damaged portion of the tri-spherical entity called Dragon that we met in Cowl. Unfortunately, not much comes of it. The ending is broadly hinted at the beginning and doesn't seem to me to make much sense. There are two war-droids that are almost worthy of Iain M. Banks, but they're too little to make up for a middle that drags. If John M. Ford had written it, the book would be a tenth as long.

"Nauseous" should really be "nauseated" (p. 113), "matt-black" should really be "mat-black" or "matte-black" (p. 141), and "grizzly" should be "grisly" (p. 410). 

Posted: Wed - November 2, 2005 at 08:10   Main   Category: