Shadow of the Scorpion
Ian Cormac was raised to adulthood during the end of the war between the human Polity and the vicious arthropoid race, the Prador. In Neal Asher's Shadow of the Scorpion, Cormac is haunted by childhood memories of a sinister scorpion-shaped war drone and the burden of losses he doesn’t remember.
In the years following the war he signs up with Earth Central Security, and is sent out to help either restore or simply maintain order on worlds devastated by Prador bombardment.
There he discovers that though the old enemy remains as murderous as ever, it is not anywhere near as perfidious or dangerous as some of his fellow humans, some of them closer to him than he would like.
Amidst the ruins left by wartime genocides, he discovers in himself a cold capacity for violence, learns some horrible truths about his own past and, set upon a course of vengeance, tries merely to stay alive.
The Shadow of the Scorpion skillfully combines graphic action and sensitive characterisation and is Asher's most accomplished novel to date. (Guardian)A powerhouse cocktail of lurid violence, evocative world-building and typically grotesque monsters, but it’s amazing how much emotion he’s also layered into what could have been a simplistic SF potboiler. Asking difficult questions while still delivering plenty of full-tilt adventure and widescreen action, this is top-notch stuff from an author well and truly at the top of his game. (SFX)Ian Cormac is, it seems, here to stay in the collective consciousness of sci-fi literature… Thoroughly enjoyable stuff. (SciFiNow)An insane, sexy war story full of giant explosions on alien worlds. It's also a well-plotted exploration of the way violence destroys everything, even memory. (Io9)The novel manages to raise some interesting points about what it means to be human in a society where the lines between man and machine have blurred: robots are capable of emulating emotions and humans may be technologically augmented and live indefinitely. When it is possible to have traumatic memories erased from the human brain, the novel questions the wisdom of doing so and suggests that memories and pain shape our psyche. (The Book Bag)
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