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I first read this on the 22nd February 2021.
Given the current military revisionism I'd expected a tale of a soldier returning from a brutal
war, full of regret for the wasted lives and the terrible things he done. Or even something echoing
the final lines of Rupert Brooke's The Solder:
And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.
I'd forgotten for a moment that this was a novel by Neal Asher. Like the wormships in the novel, the plot
is composed of many interlocking strands covering the Clade; the client;
Dragon; hoopers (Yay!); the Earth Central AI; the cyborg Orlandine; the Prador and of course the
Soldier itself. There is, to be frank, quite a lot going on in this big book.
I would love to be eleven-years-old and play-acting the high points of the book with my
(the above is Max channelling Frank Richard's hilarious but very dated "Bunter" stories)
"Yarooh!! I'll bash you with my proton beam! You're dead!"
"Crikey! Hang on, I'm casting off my dead segment and lashing you with my tentacles!"
"Yikes, you rotter! I'll destroying your moon with a CTD"
"Bother! When I get my pocket money I'll buy the Bandai wormship and totally eliminate your Lego weapon stations."
What's it got? super-powerful aliens, AIs and post-humans, with massive weapons of
absolutely astonishing destructiveness gouging canyons of annihilation across the known universe.
But remember, this is fiction. The truth is that war is horrible. We are all especially reminded of that
following Russia's insane, unjustified and brutal invasion of Ukraine. My heart goes out to the
Ukrainians in their staunch defense of their homeland.
Loaded on the 20th March 2022.