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Polity Agent (Agent Cormac 4) by Neal Asher

Polity Agent (Agent Cormac 4) (original 2006; edition 2010)

by Neal Asher

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414525,667 (4)1
Title:Polity Agent (Agent Cormac 4)
Authors:Neal Asher
Info:Tor (2010), Paperback, 496 pages

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Polity Agent by Neal Asher (2006)

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Showing 5 of 5
Like Asher's earlier Polity books, this one is also a very enjoyable guilty-pleasure wham-bang space opera page-turner.

Asher's Polity universe is kind of like the R-rated version of Iain M. Banks' PG-rated Culture: the nastiness and violence is turned up a couple notches in intensity, but the ideas are as lively, the protagonists as hip and cool, and the AI/Minds/drones as wry and amusing.

My chief complaint was that the space battle scenes dragged out far too long. ( )
  ronhenry | Nov 17, 2015 |
Keeps getting better.
Enjoyed this book much more than the previous one, so I am now looking forward to getting into the next one in the series.
Full of fantastic monsters, weapons, plots and subplots. Would recommend this one to anyone but would suggest you read the previous ones in the series first.
Brilliant, keep them coming. ( )
  jltott | Jun 7, 2010 |
Neal Asher does it again. If you liked previous Cormac novels this won't disappoint. Highly recommended to all in search of the best in space opera. ( )
  ennui2342 | Jan 7, 2010 |
We find out more about Jain technology, more about Dragon, and more about the Polity and its AIs.

A great read. Looking forward to the next one. ( )
  gregandlarry | Dec 26, 2007 |
Equally prolific, Asher’s new book on the other hand is a cracker. This is the fourth book featuring Ian Cormac, a future super-spy sort of type, working for the mighty Earth Central Artificial Intelligence that controls and shapes events in human space.

As with Stross, this is a future where humanity has spread through the stars, Artificial Intelligences benignly work with – and effectively administrate – humans throughout the Polity, the area of space colonised by humanity, and characters enjoy semi-immortality as they copy, edit and back-up their mental states. Unlike Stross though, Asher remembers that the ideas are only part of what gets people drawn into a book, and he thoughtfully includes a plot that bounds along, full of fairly major action sequences.

In previous books, Cormac has gone up against various threats to the Polity, including human terrorists trying to strike against the ruling class of the Polity, an enigmatic alien entity called Dragon and a rogue scientist with access to some particularly nasty alien nanotechnology, all while slowly seeing that the Earth Central AI, and its enigmatic chief agent, a seemingly immortal Japanese man called Horace Blegg who was a boy at Hiroshima, appears to have plans for him.

With this book, Asher starts to draw the elements from the three previous books closer together. From the opening chapter, where a group of human refugees from the future flee from a time where aggressive alien nanotech has wiped out entire alien civilisations, through the attack of the same nanotech on a Polity world, and on to the last third of the book, where a rogue Polity AI discovers something truly awful lurking beyond the line of Polity, Asher grabs you and keeps you reeled in. Plots from previous books are looped together, allegiances of old characters shift, and the true nature of the threat facing the Polity becomes apparent.

It’s a hell of a lot of fun. When Asher started this series, I was only vaguely convinced – he started off with Cormac as a very obvious 007 riff, and I wasn’t sure there was going to be anything more to him. Over the following books, he’s developed both the plot and the characters well enough that now I’m not only convinced, but I’m eagerly awaiting the next instalment.

Like Stross, Asher is not miserly with ideas, and while he puts his own spins on now-familiar hard SF tropes – benign all-controlling AIs with sardonic senses of humour, post-Singularity humans, unstable war drones, nanotech – he also puts forward plenty of his own ideas. There are some great throwaway ideas here – I loved the ecosystem Asher casually describes in passing about two thirds through the book, and his explanation of why the AIs haven’t truly reached a Singularity point is great.

The book is complete in itself, but it’s going to make a lot more sense if you’ve read the first three books before this one. If you have read and enjoyed those, I’ll be very surprised if you don’t love this one and – ending as it does with a very Empire Strikes Back like feel – end up keenly anticipating the inevitable fifth book in the sequence. ( )
1 vote MikeFarquhar | May 27, 2007 |
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Neal Asherprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rawlings, SteveCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0330441523, Paperback)

From eight hundred years in the future, a runcible gate is opened into the Polity and those coming through it have been sent specially to take the alien maker back to its home civilization in the Small Magellanic cloud. Once these refugees are safely through, the gate itself is rapidly shut downbecause something alien is pursuing them. The gate is then dumped into a nearby sun. From those refugees who get through, agent Cormac learns that the Maker civilization has been destroyed by pernicious virus known as the Jain technology. This, of course, raises questions: why was Dragon, a massive biocontruct of the Makers, really sent to the Polity; why did a Jain node suddenly end up in the hands of someone who could do the most damage with it? Meanwhile an entity called the Legate is distributing pernicious Jain nodes and a renegade attack ship, The King of Hearts, has encountered something very nasty outside the Polity itself.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:33 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

From 800 years in the future, a runcible gate is opened into the Polity in order to take the alien 'Maker' back to its home civilization. But the refugees who come through the gate tell agent Cormac that the entire Maker civilization has been destroyed, thanks to a pernicious virus known as the Jain technology.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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