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Dark Intelligence by Neal Asher
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193661,059 (3.84)4



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This book was a good read and had some great storylines, character development adventures and disturbing aliens/tech. I'd definitely read more books set in this universe. ( )
  DeborahJade | Dec 25, 2017 |
This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot.wordpress.leafmarks.com & Bookstooge's Reviews on the Road Facebook Group by Bookstooge's Exalted Permission. Title: Dark Intelligence Series: Transformation, Polity Author: Neal Asher Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars Genre: SFF Pages: 416 Synopsis: Penny Royal, a rogue A.I. that went black after the Human/Prador war, is back. It should be dead. One man and one woman, working with and against each other and Penny Royal, seek it out to find out what has happened. But how do you fight an A.I. that can turn you into another creature or change your very memories? That is what Spear and Satomi must figure out if they want answers to their questions and an end to their quest for vengeance against Penny Royal. My Thoughts: I love Neal Asher's Polity books. Hard Technology [as opposed to High Fantasy] and ultra-violence all wrapped into a thrill ride where you don't know which way is sideways or how you'll get there. I always know I'll enjoy these books and hence tend to save them. But at some point I just have to start eating and then I enjoy every minute of it. Even though the book is ostensibly about Penny Royal, everything is through the eyes of Spear and Satomi, both whom have been wacked by Penny in one way or another. So it starts out as a Quest for Vengeance type story but as you read along, both Spear and Satomi realize that things don't quite add up. By the end of this book [it is supposed to be a trilogy] it appears that this story is a story of Redemption and making things right. However, my experience with Asher leads me to believe that the convolutedness of this story is JUST beginning and that I still don't have a clue as to the End Game. I did knock off half a star for the 2 unnecessary sex scenes. They weren't "explicit" but were graphic enough that I thought noting them was necessary. I also added the "Ultra-Violent" tag, but to be honest, I had to stop and think about it. So I'm either getting jaded or Asher is getting mellow. To end, a really fun book that continues my love affair with Asher's Polity Universe. " ( )
  BookstoogeLT | Dec 10, 2016 |
It's been awhile since I've picked up a Neal Asher novel, largely, I admit, because I was put off by the length of books such "The Line of Polity" or "the Voyage of the Sable Keech." So when this new trilogy became available I resolved to start engaging with the man's work again. That said can you pick this work up and enjoy it having not read any of the preceding books? On the whole I'd say that the answer is yes. Which is not to say that there won't be nuances that you're missing out on. As for what I can say that hasn't been said, this really feels like a novel where PTSD is one of the main themes, as assorted survivors of the Polity-Prador War described in Asher's earlier novels try to come to terms with what they experienced. Certainly the main characters Thorvold Spear (erstwhile Human military intelligence specialist) and Isobel Satomi (hard-bitten crime lord who made a bad deal with a super-AI) are in for an epistemological comeuppance in the course of events, particularly since the novel ends on a real cliffhanger. ( )
  Shrike58 | Jun 8, 2016 |
Before Dark Intelligence, I had read precisely one story by Neal Asher: It was called "Shell Game" and was also set in Asher's "Polity" universe—and I read it 6 years ago and remember nothing about it save that I enjoyed it. Over the years I've seen the announcement of numerous new Polity books, but never got around to picking one up, so when the publisher offered a copy of DA for review I jumped at the chance to finally dig deeper into the universe.

Dark Intelligence more or less follows two characters as they chase after a rogue artificial intelligence "black AI" named Penny Royal. First we meet former soldier Thorvald Spear—whose terrific name might be the best thing in the book (not even kidding)—as he awakens 100 years after his death, a feat made possible using recovered memory implants placed into cloned bodies. Spear returns dead-set on revenge against Penny Royal, whom he blames for the death of his squadmates back during the Prador Wars. But is Penny Royal truly to blame? And are Spear's memories even trustworthy? Spear's sections of the book are written in an engaging first-person, often jumping to flashbacks of his memories to give his background, and overall his POV does a good job of getting the reader up to speed with the Polity universe. So it's a surprise when, a few chapters in, we cut from Spear's first-person narrative to a more traditional third-person one. Because this isn't just Thorvald Spear's story.

Enter Isobel Santomi, who turns out to be the second protagonist of the novel. She's a crime lord who once struck a deal with Penny Royal, the result of which made her a powerful figure in the underworld. But Penny Royal's gifts always come with a price, and Isobel finds herself slowly transforming into a "hooder", some kind of bizarre, carnivorous wormlike monster. Like Spear, she too desires vengeance on the black AI.

Much of the story consists of Spear and Santomi bouncing around chasing Penny Royal from world to world. Thorvald and Isobel cross paths early on, and then Penny Royal hijacks Isobel's ship, with Spear just missing the black AI at each stop. (I'll confess I got a little lost at this point, trying to keep track of who was where as they all bounced around.) Eventually, all the threads converge at the planet Masada for a big finale where everything gets wrapped up nicely.

First, the good stuff: This a really cool universe. Thorvald Spear is a great name, as well as a joy to follow around. Penny Royal is a terrifying baddie. Isobel's transformation is well-done body horror of the most disturbing degree. And it's nice to see all the plot threads get tied up by book's end.

On the other hand, the promotional material that came with my book billed it as "an ideal entry point for new readers" into the Polity universe (which was fairly influential in my decision to accept a review copy.) But a lot of the stuff at the end of the book seemed to hinge on characters and events from earlier books—with one prominent creature having already had an entire novel dedicated to it—and if I wasn't entirely lost, I feel like I missed out on a lot of the impact the end of book could have had. And speaking of the end: Story-wise, everything came to a nice tidy conclusion, and yet this is just the first book of what I assume is a trilogy. Having said that, though everything was resolved, very little was actually explained, which is where I'm figuring (hoping) Book Two comes in.

Make no mistake, though, Dark Intelligence is a good read: fun characters and great action, all set in a fascinating and highly-imaginative (and slightly horrifying) universe. I definitely need to read some more Polity stories, but I'm thinking I'll want to pick up some of the older books first. [3.5 out of 5 stars] ( )
  saltmanz | Jul 23, 2015 |
Dark Intelligence is just an incredible piece of science fiction. I don’t recall the last time I finished a book and couldn’t find even one tiny thing I didn’t enjoy about the book. Even the books I give my thoughts on, on my blog, I can find something I didn’t enjoy about them if I dig hard enough. Not so with Dark Intelligence by Neal Asher.

Every box I have for a sci-fi story managed to get a check mark by the time I made it to the end of the book.

All powerful villain – check
Villain with plans no one can figure out – check
Villain using everyone to its own goals – check
AIs – check
Evil AIs (didn’t know I had that box until I read this book) – check
An ending that is happy-happy joy-joy – check

The list goes on and on…I think why the book satisfied everything I look for in science fiction, has a lot to do with how it ended. I won’t give it away so you can go out and buy the book, or check it out on Overdrive (which I did). What I will say about the ending is that it’s not this super happy Disney cartoon ending. You know, the kind where all problems are resolved by the end of the book, and everyone is super happy because the the world is sunshine and rainbows, again.

Dark Intelligence doesn’t insult readers by going that route. Sure, some things are wrapped up, I wouldn’t say resolved, but they were done in a way that shows Dark Intelligence is a giant story, rather than a bunch of self-contained plots shoved under a larger story arc and called a series. This book is written in such a way that it feels as one part of a much larger story, which means it can’t end as if it’s a Disney Junior cartoon or most of the books out there nowadays.

I’m sure I can go on and on about how the majority of endings for books nowadays suck, and how getting to the end of a book I spent hours and hours of my time on feels like a lesson in disappointment, but I won’t. Although another three books of ridiculous feel good endings, and I will devote an entire 1,000 word post on why the trend is ruining the enjoyment of reading.

Now, back to Dark Intelligence. This book also has the huge fantastical sci-fi tech I fell in love with when I read the Revelation Space series. I love it so much; it’s why I write like I do. It’s so much fun to imagine technology getting to the point that, knowing what we know today, it looks like magic. Now that doesn’t mean Neal Asher and other authors like him (myself included) went the lazy route with sci-fi, just because we didn’t want to screw a grounding-rod in the pavement and tie ourselves around it while we wrote. Tech like that which is found in Android Hunters, Dark Intelligence and Revelation Space could be possible, just because it seems like magic doesn’t mean it is. Think about how a person that was transported into the future from the year 83 BC would view everything around us. That person would see everything as magic, they wouldn’t be able to wrap their head around what they saw and accept it to be something attainable by human beings. The tech in this book is much the same, but if you allow yourself to use the imagination God graced you with, imagining people attaining that level of tech stops being magic, and starts being real and a source of wonder.

Dark Intelligence by Neal Asher is one great book. I don’t know how else to get it across, short of showing up at your house, grabbing your shoulders, and yelling at you about how great Dark Intelligence is. Get the book from an e-retailer, local bookshop, big chain bookstore, your library, Overdrive, or another legal business I forgot to mention. And when you read it, stop thinking about how all the spaceships should spin around in a circle to mimic gravity, and remember the wonder and enjoyment you got from Star Trek and Star Wars. ( )
  scifi_jon | Jun 16, 2015 |
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10/7/59 - 24/1/14

They say time heals.

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"Thorvald Spear wakes in a hospital to find he's been brought back from the dead. What's more, he died in a human vs. alien war that ended a century ago. Spear had been trapped on a world surrounded by hostile Prador forces, but Penny Royal, the AI inside the rescue ship sent to provide backup, turned rogue, annihilating friendly forces in a frenzy of destruction and killing Spear. One hundred years later the AI is still on the loose, and Spear vows for revenge at any cost. Isobel Satomi ran a successful crime syndicate, but after competitors attacked she needed power and protection. Negotiating with Penny Royal, she got more than she bargained for: Turning part-AI herself gave Isobel frightening power, but the upgrades hid a horrifying secret, and the dark AI triggered a transformation that has been turning her into something far from human... Spear hires Isobel to track Penny Royal across worlds to its last known whereabouts. But he cheats her in the process and quickly finds himself in her crosshairs. As Isobel continues to evolve into a monstrous predator, it's clear her rage will eventually win out over reason. Will Spear finish his hunt before he himself becomes the hunted?"--Cover, p.[2]… (more)

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