When a station at The Line of the Polity controlled space fails to nanite mycelium infestation similar to the one in Samarknad instituted by the mysterious Dragon, they call in Agent Cormac to sort it out. The nearby repressive theocracy planet of Masada is also involved.
Title: The Line of the Polity
Series: Agent Cormac 2
Author: Neal Asher
Genre: Space Opera | Military Science Fiction
Publisher: Tor 2003
Paperback: 672 pages
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Cormac is taken from a case with a rogue scientist Skellor who use alien tech to merge with an AI. It is not unexpected that the scientist will play a part in the following story.
Masada has a thin atmosphere so the denizens have to use old fashioned biological symbiotes to survive. The religious leadership uses their monopoly on them and their orbital laser arrays to control the people down on the planet while they live as kings in their orbital habitats. But things are about to change, there is a literal underground brewing an insurrection supported by elements of the Polity. And we see it all from the point of view of one of the oppressed workers Eldene. Her journey from oppression is a delight to read
On an other arc of the story is young Outlinker Apis Coolant that first discovered the nano infestation and then we get to follow his and his mothers struggle to survive the aftermath of the destruction of the station.
We also in an unlikely but welcome chain of event hook up with old friends from the first book former henchman Stanton and his lovely starship captain Jarvellis on a personal quest that soon converge with the main story.
Blegg is an interesting character. He is rumored to be an immortal survivor of Hiroshima and he has up until now been Ian Cormac’s boss and teacher. Here it is hinted about something more, of powerful races in the galaxy starting to notice humanity with more to come. Look at the Makers, in Gridlinked Cormac saved one of them, and he has been returned to his people. But their rogue biological machine the Dragon still causes trouble for humanity.
I am a bit reminded of those sleek pulp books of my youth about interstellar agent Cap Kennedy of F.A.T.E written by Edwin Charles Tubb under the pseudonym Gregory Kerr, Neal Asher’s stories have more dept to them but the flavor is similar. Not relevant to this review is that Edwin was born 1919 and he is still writing, expecting to release the 34th Dumarest book soon, impressive.
Neal also uses delightful subverted childhood tales to illustrate each chapter.
The Line of the Polity takes us further into the Polity Universe and deeper into the mysteries with ancient alien civilizations, dragons and the inner workings of the Polity. This is more fast paced space opera with more than average depth. I recommend you start with Shadow of the Scorpion or Gridlinked before you read Line of the Polity