The Worlds of Polity (or why Neal Asher books rock) Part the Second

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…even all my training as Sparkind couldn’t prepare me for that – those
damn crabs eating the wounded! They were coming over the wall
but stopped to fight one another over what remained of my team.
The screams were so loud…

The Worlds of Polity
(or why Neal Asher books rock)
Part the Second

reviewed by Raul M. Chapa

The nightmare creatures in Neal Asher’s worlds are truly frightening. The detail he uses to create such horror allows the reader to contemplate what really lies out there beyond our simple horizon. If real aliens are anything like these, perhaps the human race is better off staying on planet Earth.

The prador are a race of intelligent crab-like beings that are first introduced in Prador Moon, where they wage war against the Polity. Their society is a brutal experiment in violent domination in which the strong eat the weak. All prador are controlled by pheromones to be loyal to their king and father captains. Young prador, called third-children, are about the size of an Irish wolfhound and are not allowed to mature naturally. They normally end up spending their lives fighting and eating their fellows in shallow ponds. Those that survive this culling, the second-children, can grow to be as large as automobiles and usually have their neural ganglia removed and placed inside computers. This helps the prador control their ships and missiles. Known as “thralling,” this is the prador version of AI. The second-children also have their parts harvested by larger prador who’ve lost limbs and need replacements. Those who manage to avoid such neural enslavement and dismemberment are directly subject to their father-captains, who demand absolute loyalty from all children aboard their ships. For this there are no rewards and many first-children are called to their father’s lair only to be torn apart and eaten for no reason. The concepts of mercy and compassion are alien to the prador, and in the war against the Polity, hundreds of worlds and entire populations are annihilated because of their vicious and genocidal nature.

In the Spatterjay sequence of books (The Skinner, The Voyage of the Sable Keech and Orbus), we find the prador attempting to capture and thrall humans as they do their second-children. Since the operation consists of coring out the brain and part of the spinal column into order to replace them with a “spider thrall,” the humans die en masse. It is only through infection by a virus found on the planet Spatterjay that a human can survive. Because the virus creates a stronger human who is virtually immortal, an evil human named Hoop, a pirate on the seas of Spatterjay, hires himself to sell infected humans to the prador during the war for more efficient thralling. These “hoopers” appear in many of Asher’s Polity novels as well, sometimes run by prador or living as “blanks,” truly a type of undead horror that is extremely difficult to kill. The idea that prador would deal with an enemy to achieve their own ends only highlights their inherent malevolent nature.

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