A sequel to Gridlinked, set in the same pounding, hyper-violent far future as The Skinner (2004).
Title character Mr. Crane, a schizophrenic, psychotic Golem (super-powerful, manufactured cyborg), is enslaved to Skellor, a megalomaniac triumvirate combining evil human traits, god-like Artificial Intelligence and alien Jain bio-technology. So dangerous does Earth Central, one of the godlike AIs that benevolently rule humanity, reckon the Jain technology—five million years old, it probably destroyed several intervening galactic civilizations—that it orders its finest agent, Ian Cormac, along with a small army of Golem, human and AI helpers, to track down and expunge Skellor and all traces of the Jain technology. Meanwhile, on the remote, forgotten colony world Cull, a human-alien Rondure Knight, Anderson, seeks to slay a dragon—although Anderson doesn’t know that his quarry is actually Dragon, another baffling, potent alien, and that Skellor himself seeks Dragon to help him control the Jain technology growing inside his body. All this, however, barely skims the surface of this vast, dense, brawling yarn. A series of “retroact” insertions detail how Crane was created, subjugated and subverted, while chapter introductions further explicate the tale’s backdrop. The superbly adaptive Jain technology mindlessly devours everything in its path as it seeks only to reproduce and spread; certain rebellious AIs may prefer to cooperate with Skellor, the Jain technology and Dragon; while the latter may not be the destructive, malevolent entity it appears.
Confusing, at first, for those unacquainted with the previous history of Asher’s universe, but fizzing with intelligent ideas and occasionally streaked with black humor. Appalling, mind-boggling, fascinating—and irresistible.