The Gabble (book, Neal Asher, 2009)
From Death Ray 17. It’s worth noting that Neal did finally reveal the origins of the Gabbleducks in his book The Technician.
Ten tales of the Polity from the entertaining Mr Asher.
We seem to have been saying Neal Asher is brilliant a lot recently. Here it is again: We love you, Neal, you and your futuristic hard men, weird monsters and chillingly pragmatic AI. This book serves up a dozen “short” stories set in his Polity universe (we say “short” because some of them are scrape novella length). We’d like to grumble, his heroes are similar to one another (all super-tough killers, with the occasional journalist or researcher thrown in) but we just can’t. Fact is, Asher’s stories do have a fairly narrow range of themes to them, but who cares? It’s brilliantly delivered. And there’s a wealth of startlingly alien imagery to distract you besides. We’d be greedy to demand more, but, you know what, he delivers even this too. “Acephalous Dreams” and “The Sea of Death” are two tales in the collection that don’t follow his usual “tough bastard solves mystery with extreme prejudice”. The first is about a tough bastard murderer (it’s not that relevant to the story) who is given the choice of being host to alien technology instead of being executed. The second is a short weird alien SF story. Did we mention Asher does good weird aliens too?
Three of the stories concern the alien oddities known as Gabbleducks (hence the title of the collection), a species that may be more than it appears to be. Asher’s become fascinated by the creatures, and promises us a novel about them soon.
But you don’t have to wait that long, hey, you don’t even have to buy the book to sample the delights of Gabbleducks – turn to the back of this issue of Death Ray where you’ll find “Softly Spoke the Gabbleduck”, the first story from The Gabble, and an interview with Asher.