cover image The Human

The Human

Neal Asher. Night Shade, $26.99 (480p) ISBN 978-1-949102-37-6

Asher‘s Rise of the Jain trilogy comes to an explosive end with this superb, multimodal slugfest that still finds time for nuanced character development and philosophical conundrums. The plot picks up where The Warship left off, with a thousand-mile-long Jain warship having just arrived at a destroyed solar system near the Jaskoran system, under the protection of Orlandine, a “haiman,” or human/artificial intelligence hybrid. The Jain, whose “xenophobia and hostility [is] implicit in their biology,” pose a threat to all living things, so forces from the Polity of humans and AIs, as well as the alien prador race, join together with Orlandine to protect Jaskor. Fans of every kind of science fictional warfare will find something to enjoy as the combat includes cataclysmic space battles that leave a gas giant aflame, human vs. robot fistfights and battles between biomechanical creations, and information warfare. Returning characters Cog and Trike, both once human and now something more, wrestle with the question of how much alien technology they’re comfortable using to ensure victory while Orlandine’s complete control over and weaponization of Jaskor raises its own philosophical questions. Asher handles the personal and the pyrotechnics equally well, making this a worthy finale to his winning saga of space warfare. (June)