Line War by Neal Asher
Paperback: 566 pages
Publisher: Tor (3 April 2009)
The Polity is under attack from a ‘melded’ AI entity with control of the lethal Jain technology, yet the attack seems to have no coherence. When one of Erebus’s wormships kills millions on the world of Klurhammon, a high-tech agricultural world of no real tactical significance, agent Ian Cormac is sent to investigate, though he is secretly struggling to control a new ability no human being should possess . . . and beginning to question the motives of his AI masters.
Further attacks and seemingly indiscriminate slaughter ensue, but only serve to bring some of the most dangerous individuals in the Polity into the war. Mr Crane, the indefatigable brass killing machine sets out for vengeance, while Orlandine, a vastly-augmented haiman who herself controls Jain technology, seeks a weapon of appalling power and finds allies from an ancient war.
Meanwhile Mika, scientist and Dragon expert, is again kidnapped by that unfathomable alien entity and dragged into the heart of things: to wake the makers of Jain technology from their five-million-year slumber.
But Erebus’s attacks are not so indiscriminate, after all, and could very well herald the end of the Polity itself . . .
Hilldiggers by Neal Asher
Paperback: 551 pages
Publisher: Tor (4 April 2008)
During a war between two planets in the same solar system – each occupied by adapted humans – what is thought to be a cosmic superstring is discovered. After being cut, this object collapses into four cylindrical pieces, each about the size of a tube train. Each is densely packed with either alien technology or some kind of life. They are placed for safety in three ozark cylinders of a massively secure space station. There a female research scientist subsequently falls pregnant, and gives birth to quads. Then she commits suicide – but why?
By the end of the war one of the contesting planets has been devastated by the hilldiggers – giant space dreadnoughts employing weapons capable of creating mountain ranges. The quads have meanwhile grown up and are assuming positions of power in the post-war society. One of them will eventually gain control of the awesome hilldiggers . . .
From the Inside Flap
"A terrible war once raged between the two rival planets within a distant solar system. Over the centuries their human inhabitants had 'adapted' themselves to the extremely different conditions of their new homes, far outside Polity influence.
In the midst of this merciless conflict, one side encountered a bizarre object suspected of being a cosmic superstring employed as a new weapon by the rival side. Their attack on it caused the object to collapse into four parts, each found to be packed either with alien technology or some unknown form of life. Pending further study, these were quickly encased inside four separate Ozark cylinders and stored in a massively secure space station in orbit.
Sometime later, while conducting research on this alien entity, which they now call 'the Worm', a female scientist falls pregnant and subsequently gives birth to quads. She then inexplicably commits suicide by walking directly out into space . . .
The war was finally brought to an end by the use of new weapons arising as a result of research on the Worm. These weapons were deployed by giant space dreadnoughts nicknamed 'hilldiggers' - and their destructive power was sufficient to create entire new mountain ranges out of the vanquished planet's ravaged terrain. Twenty years after the dust has settled, those four exceptionally talented orphans have grown up to assume varying degrees of power and influence within a post-war society.
And one of this exceptional breed now seems determined to gain total control over the deadly hilldiggers. But why?"