100 Books in 2011 Review: Gridlinked

Gridlinked by Neal Asher is essentially James Bond in a space opera setting. Ian Cormac has been an agent for Earth Central Services for thirty years and has been linked to the AIs that govern the Polity for all of that time. His latest mission involves coming off the grid and learning to problem solve like a human as the AI network is potentially compromised by an alien intelligence from beyond the galaxy. In order to deal with this he is pulled off his current mission (which is not going so well) but not before he’s killed the sister of a psychotic terrorist. Who then proceeds to chase Cormac across the galaxy generally getting in the way until the final confrontation.

 The book is filled with a cast of engaging characters, both human and AI. Cormac’s adjustment to life without access to the AI grid, without all the information he could ever want, is convincingly portrayed. The moments when he has to ask other people about themselves and realises how much he has forgotten about making a connection are poignant and well-handled.

The dialogue is crisp. The pacing is good; it’s a 125,000 word novel and it packs much more in than you’d think. The twin strands of the plot are balanced nicely and even right at the end the possibility that everything will go horribly wrong is strong.

There are points when Cormac is talked about by other characters and we learn that he is somewhat legendary. Yet he comes across as a relatable character. He’s not legendary in his own mind and he doesn’t have the disrespectful arrogance of James Bond.

I really enjoyed this. I’ve bought another one and I’m looking forward to reading it. If you haven’t read Neal Asher before, I’d recommend him.

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