15 October 2010

Neal Asher - Hilldiggers

  • Author: Neal Asher
  • Title: Hilldiggers
  • Publisher: Tor 2007 (Pan McMillan Paperbacks)
  • ISBN: 978 0330441537
I read this book ages ago and never got around to writing about it, even though I intended to. I've had this draft post with the publication details sitting there since, christ, it must have been May? Maybe longer. (I just wiped out the damn date thing by accident, so now I'll never know.)

Anyway, it turned out to be an excellent book. Not so shocking though, is it? I mean this is Neal 'Best Fucking Writer of Awesome Fucking Space Opera in a Utopian Future Fucking Ever' Asher we're talking about, so if you ARE surprised, you need a kick in the ass and a copy of Spatterjay.

Hilldiggers is a novel about the Polity making first contact with a human colony that was launch and established before the Quiet War in which the AI's took over. It's a clever look at how people treat each other, both within and outside of their own culture and population centres. Asher cleverly has the two inhabited planets in the star system require different modifications to the base human model, essentially separating the original colonists into two new human species. Oh, and they are at war.

I love the way Asher tells a story, and this one is as violent, funny, sad, gruesome, poignant and damning as any other of his books that I have read (IE all of them except Africa Zero and the latest one.) And he manages to construct this wondrous adventure story while simultaneously decimating the self righteousness that defines the majority of 21st century humanity.

Asher is THE liberal-socialist writer of the century. He is destined to be one of the greats, and his political leaning of taking care of everyone, but allowing them the opportunity to reach for the stars if they have the motivation and ability, is a model of the future that I have fantasised about for much of my life. That Asher has managed to paint my dreams with the easy to learn but difficult to master English language is a testament to his talent and brilliant vision. Add in some exploding guts, and you've won me for life.

If you never read any other book again, read at least one Neal Asher novel. You won't regret it.