Gridlinked takes place in a fascinating, confusing universe, peopled by strange characters serving coldly inhuman causes, all alongside fairly relatable people. There is a sense of impenetrability regarding the setting and exactly what is going on. Partly it’s that the characters and institutions are strange. Partially it’s the abundant violence. Partially it’s the story’s bizarre FTL technology, literally beyond human comprehension, as perhaps all things that hurl mankind faster than light well should be. The depiction of aliens who seem truly alien, and whose motives are frequently bewildering is also a great contribution to the atmosphere. But the intense mood and the frequent fast-paced and brutally matter-of-fact violence is the overwhelming contributor to this feeling of impenetrability.
There is some lingo usage that is very clever and original. It definitely takes a fairly common sci-fi technology, teleportation, and makes it memorable, giving it a very unique spin which greatly impacts the mood of the setting as well as individual scenes.
The plot is rather inscrutable, and even skimming through the book as I am writing this, while I understand the overall thrust of the arcs, there are plenty of elements that I don’t entirely grasp. Which felt in line with the general atmosphere. There are other books set in this universe, and I will probably end up reading them, if not right away; Gridlinked wraps up its plot pretty well, but dangles a hook at the very end that is simply begging for an explanation. I look forward to eventually reading the other books by Neal Asher and unraveling more of the twisted webs of technology, governments, aliens, and insurrectionists.
Cover Art Review: I like it! It very much conveys the mood of the book: overall dark with lots of seizure-inducing lights here and luminous circuitry there, bizarre, inhuman and foreboding. I don’t think Ian Cormac’s face looks like that, though.