Visible in the night sky, the Argus Station - its twin smelting plants like glowing eyes - looks down on the nightmare that is Earth. From Argus the Committee maintain an oppressive control: citizens are watched by cams systems and political officers. It's a world inhabited by shepherds, reader guns, razor birds and the brutal inspectorate with its white-tiled cells and pain inducers.Finally, my most anticipated novel of the year has a cover! The Departure is the first novel in Neal Asher's new series, focusing on the origins of The Owner, a figure from some short stories he's written in the past. These stories of his (Proctors, The Owner, Tiger, Tiger and Owner Space) are among my favourite short stories I've read, and I know I've not been alone in hoping and praying that Neal would expand these stories into a complete novel or series.
Soon the Committee will have the power to edit human minds, but not yet; twelve billion human beings need to die before Earth can be stabilized. But, by turning large portions of Earth into concentration camps, this is achievable, especially when the Argus satellite laser network comes fully online...
This is the world Alan Saul wakes to in his crate on the conveyor to the Calais incinerator. How he got there he does not know, but he does remember the pain and the face of his interrogator. Informed by Janus, through the hardware implanted in his skull, about the world as it is now Saul is determined that, just as soon as he has found out who he was, and killed his interrogator, he'll bring this corrupt world crashing down.
The cover itself is nice and certainly stand out, and is another excellent Jon Sullivan creation (the artist responsible for all Neal's rejacketed covers). The only amendment needed is the removal of 'A Polity novel' from the front, simply because it isn't! The Departure is due in September this year and it just can't come soon enough for me. Head over to Neal's blog to see the full wrap-around cover and some more blurbs for it, but I expect this novel to be far and away the best thing I read this year.