Book Reviews

Review: Gridlinked by Neal Asher

Gridlinked by Neal Asher


The runcible buffers on Samarkand have been mysteriously sabotaged, killing many thousands and destroying a terraforming project. Agent Cormac must reach it by ship to begin an investigation. But Cormac has incurred the wrath of a vicious psychopath called Pelter, who is prepared to follow him across the galaxy with a terrifying android in tow.

Despite the sub-zero temperature of Samarkand, Cormac discovers signs of life: they are two ‘dracomen’, alien beasts contrived by an extra-galactic entity calling itself ‘Dragon’, which is a huge creature consisting of four conjoined spheres of flesh each a kilometre in diameter. Caught between the byzantine wiles of the Dragon and the lethal fury of Pelter, Cormac needs to skip very nimbly indeed to rescue the Samarkand project and protect his own life.

Gridlinked is the first sci-fi thriller in Neal Asher’s compelling Agent Cormac series.

This book is a prime example where it’s just not possible for a blurb to sell the book like it was ever intended to do in the first place. In fact, a long synopsis would even be sinful. Agent Cormac thinks whoever came up with these downright nasty ideas should eat a sharp beetle. Sometimes while reading . . . I wanted to tear this book in half. However, great care was taken not even to dog ear this bad boy. I absolutely fell in love with the story of Agent Cormac and the punchy, humorous way the words are laid down on each page. With break neck speed through space with spaceships, atmospheric re-entry and sadistic androids are some of the wettest, pulpy slap-stick environmental constraints of being in the future where things aren’t always as they seem. Your first inclination about why this is, is most definitely wrong, with a tag line of “The Hunter Becomes the Hunted” and things like chameleonware all the way to the neat little lore-type-blurbs at the start of many chapters that explain the human condition in relation to this beautiful, far-out space world.

Wildlife? No, there could never be wild life in a Star Trek book and calling this a Star Trek book would also be humiliating! Don’t do it to yourself. Wild life? Yes! There is. In a cross between No Man’s Sky ( if you ever played the game No Man’s Sky, yes, there is exotic wildlife ), and Blood Machines ( but beware that these comparisons serve only as an estimate ), comes a mission from Ian Cormac, that has been hooked into the AI grid for 30 years and decides it’s time to disconnect. The hunt for a sadistic android and it’s source of intent. And while I feel I could tell you much more about the book and never spoil it, because it is that much of a blessing in terms of entertainment value, even on the sentence structure level all the way up to the over-arching themes and dialog.

One thing I was kind of confused about, before starting this was whether I could handle hard science fiction or not. And while your gas mileage will vary based on how you like to drive, I ate this book quick in terms of total reading time. It deserves a re-read. I honestly can’t say anything bad about it at all, which could be shame in itself.


With my particular reading style, this book hits a grand slam in all aspects of what I like and ranks every bit of ★★★★★ five stars out of five. I’ll be on the lookout for the next book in the series, when the time arises. It’s a prize to be had.

Guys and gals, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley.

By S.D. McKinley

S.D. McKinley lives in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. He was born in the first half of the 1980's and grew up in Wisconsin as a young boy, then moved to Georgia when he turned exactly twelve years old. During teenage years, he raced dirt track go karts and played guitar. He discovered his current love for all kinds of art after his mid-life crisis at 25 years old. S.D. McKinley began writing books in 2017.

17 replies on “Review: Gridlinked by Neal Asher”

I liked it quite a lot, an enjoyable space opera, and I already listened to three Asher novels, quite fun. I still prefer Iain M. Banks, for me it’s a more serious exploration of a spacefaring humanity lead by AIs…

Yeah, Asher seems to making waves right now through the blogs, which I think is great. Would you recommend “Consider Phlebas (A Culture Novel Book 1)” to start with Mr. piotrek?

I would, although I have to warn you some people consider Asher to be superior 😉

Glad this was such a hit. If you liked his initial book so much, then you’re a shoe-in for reading his entire Polity series. I think Lockdown Tales makes it 20 books now? Or just over. Either way, you have a lot of goodness to look forward too. Space them out so you don’t burn out on his technobabble. It can happen.

As for Banks, I’d be interested in what you think of him too. Just remember that the humanoids in his stories are NOT humans from earth. I might have liked the series slightly better (or not given up on it quite so quickly if I had known that from the get-go). Another guy to try, if you want some harder SF, is Alistair Reynolds.

The heads up is where it’s at. Now, I think I’ll skip to Lock Down tales and then go back to book #2 in this series. After what? I have no idea. It blows like the cold wind blows. 🌝

Yeah I was a bit torn about whether to get the hard edition or the ebook, so I gratefully received one as a gift, then bought the other one before I knew about the gift. I’ll be doing a giveaway provided USPS comes through, but Japan might be out of the question for shipping, not sure, haven’t looked at the rates. 😬

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