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Neal Asher – The Voyage of the Sable KeechThe Voyage of the Sable Keech is the 2nd book in a loosely connected series (Spatterjay) by Neal Asher. It can be read on its own, but, given that it shows a progression from the events in the first story arch, as provided in 'The Skinner', I would strongly suggest you read that one first, and then read all the spoilers below. Trust me, it's a fun book, too.

Ok, for everyone still here – you have read The Skinner, you know how Asher writes, you know the fauna of Spatterjay (rarely has a place been named more aptly!).
What we get here is the same, but bigger better and MUCH MORE! The Reifs (Reifications, ie resurrected dead) are organizing a pilgrimage to the Little Flint, where Sable Keech, 'The Arisen One', managed to re-build his human body and become alive again. To this end they have build a huge ship, the Sable Keech, to sail the Spatterjay sea.
Adding to the mix: Sniper in a new, better, faster, better armed & armoured drone body, Prador infected with the Spatterjay virus, a Hooder on the rampage, and a Giant Whelk.
You know by now if you want to read the book. And, if you enjoyed The Skinner, then yes, you do want to read this. Like, NOW!

The topic is, surprisingly for Spatterjay, where people flock to become immortal through the virus – Death. What does it mean? Is a Reif dead? And if his/her memory crystal is implanted in a Golem, are they still alive? Can you be alive by degrees? How do Hive Minds die (yes, the Hornets are back!)? Does Senility, Splitting, Suicide constitute death for a distributed conscience? And what about the Hoopers, especially the Old Captains, for whom death has a huge value (note that the currency on Spatterjay is now based on Sprine – the only thing that reliably can kill an Old Captain!). They are tiring of life, sometimes.

A heady, and philosophical mix, although Asher does not dwell on it too much, it only bleeds through into the action (and the action is reasonably relentless, yet again), but is well tied into the story and motivation of the characters throughout. Who, in themselves, are so far removed from 'normal' humanity that it's hard to tell if they are believable or not, although you definitely root for some of them, sometimes even for the 'bad' ones…  

This is not as much bubblegum as some of his other books (Prador Moon comes to mind), but is by no account cerebral... Fast, furious, read-once and enjoy stuff. Does what it says on the tin, and is worth your money.

Title: The Voyage of the Sable Keech
Series: Spatterjay
Series Number: 2
Author: Neal Asher
Reviewer: Markus
Reviewer URL:
Publisher:  TOR
Publisher URL:
Publication Date: 2006
Review Date: 090903
ISBN: 1405001410
Pages: 506
Format: Trade Paperback
Topic: SF
Topic: Space Opera

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