Having become a big fan of the Polity universe (think Culture Lite – on the same level as Hamilton’s Commonwealth) and of Asher’s writing, I decided that a few weeks spent in his space opera universe was in order, to tech up my brain after my recent vacation in Tchaikovsky’s shamanistic trilogy.
My first surprise was that the universe was limited to a single planet, the eponymously named Spatterjay; my second surprise was just how a single planet could become a universe all on its own.
Instead of xenomorph aliens, it features the weirdest, most voracious, nastiest flora and fauna a world has ever allowed to develop; indeed Mr Alien and Miss Predator would probably walk around it in cringing groups, so lethal is the simplest of indigenous creatures.
Instead of spacecraft, welcome to sailing ships driven by flying sails; instead of particle weapons, welcome to harpoons, machetes, and a blunderbus (along with the odd anti-photon weapon).
Throw in a cast of virtually immortal captains, a man dead for seven centuries, a dark historian, a sarcastic drone, power hungry hornets, and two of the most twisted humans ever to scoop out a brain, and you know that you are in for a treat.
A wonderful read and already well into the second.