Prador Moon: A Novel Of The Polity
by Neal Asher
Review by Paul Haggerty
Night Shade Books Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 159780052X
Date: 15 May, 2006 List Price $14.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Prador Moon is a mixture of political intrigue and space combat. One of the central tenets of the novel is that humans are totally outclassed by the attacking alien hordes. It's not that we don't have the technology; we just don't have the necessary technology implemented at the moment. Warships of the Polity have weapons and defenses optimized for attacking the kinds of ships they've come across in the past. The Prador ships have different armor and weapons systems based on a long evolutionary history of warfare with everyone they've ever come across, including themselves and their own offspring. While the polity has speed, range, and flexibility, the Prador have massively powerful weapons and heavy armor that nothing in the Polity can touch. Now that they're aware, the Polity can outfit the navy with the appropriate hardware to rebalance the scales. Unfortunately, that takes time, and the Prador are on their way now.
Prador Moon revolves around three beings, two heroes and a villain. Jebel Krong, who was part of the original first contact mission, is now part of the massive delaying effort being put forward to buy humanity time. While humanity might lose every space battle with the Prador, Krong and the others fighting along him make sure that they pay dearly for every inch of every planet they try to claim.
While the military campaign is pretty much successful in delaying the main Prador advance, a second prong of the Prador is heading straight for the center of the Polity, and ignoring the tasty planets along the way. And Maria Salem is responsible for stopping this threat. While Krong makes use of the brute force approach of bombs and guns to fight his enemy, Salem has a plan that is as astronomical in scope as it is insane in execution. But it certainly has the advantage of surprise. No one would ever believe it could be done. And if she succeeds, the Prador will get a comeuppance they'll never forget.
And as a foil for our two heroes is Immanence, captain of the Prador starship which destroys most of the first contact team and then sets forth to slaughter (and consume) all the humans he can get his claws on. Some of the most enjoyable (although sometimes violently nasty) parts of the novel come up within the Prador ship with the captain trying to give rational reasons for why the humans are doing what they're doing, and how things are going to pan out in the future. Of course, he's absolutely wrong, but most of his ideas are rational given his point of view and some terrible misunderstandings of humanity.
I wasn't sure I was going to really enjoy this book when if first fell into my hands, but by the end of the first chapter, I had become convinced that this was a new universe I was going to want to explore. There's high technology, space battles, ground assaults, bug hunts, radical physics, alien civilizations, and strangely enough, two heros who don't automatically get along. There's pretty much something for anyone interested in a far future space adventure.