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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Man-Eating Crab Aliens

First Contact...
And mankind is on the menu!

That's what I saw when I unearthed Prador Moon from a pile of forgotten paperbacks and flipped it over. So of course I bought the book more or less to humor myself (pretty-much the same reason I picked up The Cross and the Switchblade).
This book is about how mankind finds an alien race (their very first encounter with intelligent life from beyond the stars), and invite the aliens to meet up at one of their space stations, maybe talk to their ambassador, do a few photo ops.

But what comes out of the shuttle are a bunch of enormous crab monsters armed with rocket launchers who almost immediately start fucking shit up.

And eating people. It's hyper violent.

Entire paragraphs (entire pages!) are devoted to heavy, heavy sci-fi jargon; like explanations for how brain-computer-implant-thingies work and excruciating detail for all of the epic space battles. I like sci-fi but I kind of surprised myself by how much fun I had reading about the advanced diagnostic programs of brain augs. Neal Asher loves his craft. That's the only explanation I have for why I enjoyed this book so much.

The whole adventure moves really fast and ends with tons of people shooting missiles and getting blown up. In a lot of ways it felt like reading a Salvatore book. Sure, it doesn't come with some deeper moral message about our contemporary society; sure, even the characters in the book admit that man-eating crab aliens is fucking ridiculous; and sure, it isn't Old Man's War; but it's fun.

If I'd been twelve years old (with little exposure to the greater spectrum of fiction) and read Prador Moon then I'm positive that I would have spent the next ten years focused exclusively on science fiction.

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