Posted in book critique, writing

A Critique of Neal Asher’s Dark Intelligence

Every since I finished writing my story, I have a little bit more time to read. Recently, I read Neal Asher’s book Dark IntelligenceIt’s the first science fiction book that I’ve read in a while, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

One of the thing’s I liked best about this book is Asher’s use of language and tone. For a story taking place light years away and centuries in the future, readers are not overwhelmed with fancy language, info dumps, or haughty tones. When I read it, I immediately could tell that the main character was just another guy. Simple, direct, and easy to comprehend. Only later do readers really understand how smart he is.

Another thing I found intriguing were the AI’s. In this story, science and society has progressed to the point where most people don’t worship God–they worship computers. The AIs in this world are more than just computers–they are gods ruling over men. They are all knowing and frighteningly powerful. But what happens when computers get too smart and too powerful? That’s only one of the themes Neal Asher plays with.

Neal Asher also has an interesting interpretation of reincarnation. In this world, death and the afterlife are no longer out of people’s control. Everyone’s memories and identities are recorded on computer chips, which can then be put into clones upon a person’s death. If you die, you don’t have to stay dead. If you don’t want to be reincarnated, your memories get downloaded into a Soul Bank. There, you live on in virtual realities of your own choice and design.

While this story is very well written and kept me wanting to read more. However, I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. The notions of computers being this powerful and smart, or of people having so much control over the human body that they can defy and control death so utterly bothers me. If you have problems with this, or with depraved societies from the far future doing whatever they want with seemingly no consequence–then maybe this book isn’t for you.

Of course, you can’t do anything you want without consequences, nor are you ever truly in complete control. Many of the characters find this out the hard way, and that is also what this story is about.

This book is only the first in a series. If I happen to see other Neal Asher books in the library, I’ll definitely pick them up and check them out.


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