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Cowl by Neal Asher

Cowl (original 2004; edition 2005)

by Neal Asher

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5211019,468 (3.56)25
Authors:Neal Asher
Info:Tor Books (2005), Edition: First Thus, Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Your library, Read
Tags:science fiction

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Cowl by Neal Asher (2004)

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Time travel in a way H G Wells never imagined. A complicated plot with so many shifts of scenes and fight scenes that it got to be uninteresting. ( )
  skraft001 | Mar 30, 2014 |
About the most gonzo, space operatic time-travel tale I have ever read. Awesome villains, dark heroes, crazy science. Sort of reminded me of Richard K. Morgan's novel, Altered Carbon, where he takes a killer high-science idea and then drives the story forward at a blistering pace with it, looking at it from a dozen different angles.

The killer idea this time is a unique theory on time travel that involves multiple time streams, quantum paradoxes, probability slopes, and takes place over a time span of hundreds of millions of years, from a post human society to before the Primordial Sea. It can be as confusing as heck at times, but it still feels like it hangs together even when I don't quite understand how.

And hey, it makes for some very trippy fight scenes by the end. ( )
  dgmillo | Jun 2, 2013 |
Interesting story based around time-travel and long exhausting war that spreads millions of years starting from the future backwards - yup you read it well, backwards :)[return][return]Characters are great - maybe not too fleshed out but nevertheless very well portrayed. Main characters seem to be of the Asher's favorite type - good person forced to live at the edge of society and do things that others find awful and distasteful and the brutish merciless one, perfect killing machine bred for war, assassinations and combat who finally discovers himself to be a person - not a robot. Now mix this with the most unexpected sort of time travelers and you are in for a treat.[return][return]Great read. Recommended. ( )
  Zare | Dec 4, 2012 |
The is a bizarre but engaging book, despite its unnecessarily grim dystopian opening, worth a look for its unusual take on time travel. Although the main plot essentially boils down to "hunt the monster", the characters are genuinely interesting, the ideas big and bold, and the subplot twists and turns plentiful. It all makes for an enjoyable read, even if the first 20 pages are more than a little off-putting. ( )
  jerevo | Apr 3, 2011 |
Meh. I've often wondered about the utility of that word, but now I've found what it's for: it's the perfect description of my reaction to Cowl. It expresses the concept of 'been there; done that ... what's next'.

So, the two main characters are set up in an adversarial role, and then thrown into a battle between two tribes of future humanity who are struggling for supremacy in a war to preserve/destroy the human race as they know it. The war involves time travel, with the climactic confrontation scheduled to take place in the distant past where the 'creature' Cowl exists. The episodes as each of the characters skip back in time are quite interesting, and the chapter introductions provide a framing device to paint the big picture. Are the main characters pawns or kings? Which of the tribes are the goodies and which the baddies? These are the questions ... that you end up not really caring about in spite of the pretty decent story-telling.

I've only read one Neal Asher collection before embarking on this stand-alone work. (Most of his other stories are set within the framework of the 'Polity', which I've only got the vaguest outline of so far.) That collection was pretty inventive and thrilling, so I was looking forward to something of the same calibre here. You'll have gathered I was let down: I don't think it was by the writing, or the story outline, so perhaps it was just the lack of clarity of what was going on or the convoluted descriptions of what was needed to get time-travel to work effectively. Or perhaps the poor editing with a bunch of typographical errors which hit someone like me between the eyes.

On the basis of that other book, and the general high regard in which Asher is held, I'll carry on with acquiring and reading his work. But, sorry to say, it's a 'don't start here' warning from me. In fact, you won't be missing much if you don't start this book at all. ( )
  Noisy | Dec 20, 2010 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Neal Asherprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jensen, BruceCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rawlings, SteveCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0765315122, Paperback)

In the far future, the Heliothane Dominion is triumphant in the solar system, after a bitter war with their Umbrathane progenitors. But some of the Umbrathane have escaped into the distant past, where they can position themselves to wreak havoc across time and undo their defeat. The most fanatical of them is the superhuman Cowl, more monstrous than any of the creatures outside his prehistoric redoubt.

Cowl sends his terrifying hyperdimensional pet, the torbeast, hunting through all the timelines for human specimens. It sheds its scales -- each one an organic time machine -- where its master orders. Anyone who picks one up is dragged back to the dawn of time, where Cowl awaits. Then the beast can feed, growing ever larger . . .

In our own near-future, Tack is one of U-gov's programmable killers. When a scale latches onto him, his doom seems inevitable, but the Heliothane have other ideas: they can use Tack against Cowl. Tack is no stranger to violence, but the Heliothane, hardened in their struggle for humanity's very existence, have much to teach him. He will need it all for his encounter with Cowl.

Once one of Tack's targets, Polly escaped with her life when a torbeast scale snatched her. Now, like Tack, she must learn fast as she is dragged back to Day Zero. To cheat death again, she will have to help him save the human race.

With Cowl, Neal Asher, acclaimed author of Gridlinked and The Skinner, has created his most powerful novel yet.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:57:51 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

In the far future, the Heliothane Dominion is triumphant in the solar system, after a bitter war with their Umbrathane progenitors. But some of the enemy have escaped into the past, intent on wreaking havoc across time. The worst of these is Cowl, an artificially forced advance human evolution.… (more)

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