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The Departure

(Owner Trilogy #1)

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  4,199 ratings  ·  316 reviews
Visible in the night sky the Argus Station, its twin smelting plants like glowing eyes, looks down on nightmare Earth. From Argus the Committee keep an oppressive control. Soon they will have the power to edit human minds, but not yet - twelve billion human beings need to die before Earth can be stabilized.
Hardcover, 498 pages
Published September 5th 2011 by Tor (first published September 1st 2011)
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Average rating 3.85  · 
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 ·  4,199 ratings  ·  316 reviews

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Jan 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
Ok, well, my tastes have gravitated towards violent, uber dark sci-fi lately, and this is probably the best one I've read since the Takashi Kovaks novels by Richard Morgan. SOOOOO GOOOOD.

A future world where humanity has eaten away the planet, reproduced to unsustainable levels, and a socialist/fascist/corrupt government controls them completely and has plans to liquidate the "stock"? Yes please!

There are so many things in this book that seem PROBABLE and real and not so fiction-y. Especially o
Geoffrey Dow
Mar 03, 2014 rated it did not like it
'Steaming like raw meat dropped onto a hot stove'

The Departure, by Neal Asher, reviewed

Image: Cover of The Departure, by Neal Asher

It's not news that one shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but I have a soft spot for space opera; I confess, the big space base (which I initially mistook for a starship of some sort) adorning the cover of Neal Asher's novel, The Departure, helped sell me on it.

As it turned out though, The Departure har
Phil Johnson
May 19, 2014 rated it it was ok
I was originally going to give this 3 stars, but at the ending i just kinda had enough. This basically reads like an 80's movie, with the scientist/expert martial artist uber human and his little woman sidekick who tut-tuts every time he kills someone, but shes just a dumb woman and she should shut up because those guys had to die, amiright? And the villain is just some unreasonable crazy who is incredibly boring and his whole motivation is basically 'he is crazy'.

Of course she's a scientist. O
Chris Berko
Apr 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.3 rounded down. The first half was a disjointed mess and I had a hard time getting into it. Neal Asher's writing was there, it was just buried under a whole bunch of crap. But lo' and behold, once the action got to the earth-orbiting-asteroid-space-station-thing it got better exponentially. The action picked up, it smoothed out and became easier to follow, and while not a Polity book, it finally felt like a Neal Asher book. I have a huge man-crush on this author and will read soup can labels o ...more
The Departure is a book of two halves; an exceptional first half and an unimaginative and little boring second half where only Neal Asher's explosive style and his take-no-prisoners attitude towards modern liberal pieties kept me entertained and interested.
On the other hand as a series debut it is also a setup novel to some extent, but still the second half could have been compressed a lot imho to read as a sf novel not as a standard thriller with cool toys.

Still an A for the style, potential, a
Droydicus Malojan
Jan 07, 2015 rated it did not like it
Ive read all of Asher's books. He's no Neal Stephenson, but even if he's hardly high concept, you could always depend on him for some gritty action mixed with a dash of reasonably credible hard sci-fi, and his previous works have all been enjoyable enough.

However it seems that 'the departure' is more of a departure of form than anything else. Incredibly dull with cardboard characters and an extremely predictable plot this book is made even more irritating with its right wing matter-of-fact sermo
Tim Hicks
Jun 21, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
Asher's other books are much better. I think he works better at a larger scale.

So. 498 pages.

Two hundred pages of "he turned the access wheel, which was sealed with two layers of unobtainium to protect against vacuum welding. His military-issue gloves gripped the impression surface of the wheel, as he wrenched it two and three-quarters turns anticlockwise. Orienting himself carefully with the galactic axis, he looked into the opening. To his left rose the Big Thingy, 750.344 metres of super me
Sep 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Neal’s latest novel is a departure of sorts: away from his Polity series, and the start of a new series, but a place he has written of before. The Departure is the first of The Owner novels, though Neal’s story collection The Engineer (and its later revised version, The Engineer Reconditioned) tell three stories of the Owner Universe.

Whilst the short stories tell of events much later, The Departure sets up the basics in the origin of the stories. Set in the 22nd century, Earth is being run by a
Apr 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Top Shelf book, started me on a Neal Asher binge.
Feb 03, 2015 rated it liked it
What makes ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ such a great movie is that there are no dull bits. It just moves from exciting set-piece to exciting set-piece, with no longueurs, pauses or tedium in-between. Now I doubt Neal Asher, even at his most confident and optimistic, would ever claim that ‘The Departure’ is anywhere near as good a book as ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ is a film, and yet he’s clearly adhered to the same template. ‘The Departure’ rushes from exciting set-piece to exciting set-piece, with ...more
Bob Lock
Jul 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I love Neal's stuff and was slightly worried when buying this book that I'd be disappointed as it han't gone down well with a lot of his readers but I can assure you that it went down well with THIS reader. The Departure is just that, a departure from Neal's Polity and Spatterjay worlds and is the first of his Owner timeline (although he does has other Owner stories in The Engineer and Engineer Reconditioned, both of which I have yet to read) and the main protagonist is Alan Saul who is a anti-h ...more
Dec 26, 2011 rated it it was ok
Not for everyone... well, more exactly not for most. Asher's strongest suit is his imagination, particularly of fascinating but horrific aliens (sentient and not), machines/AI, and blends of both and humans, and with the exception of aliens there are a number of fine examples of that in this book. He is also good at big picture plotting, but where this book breaks down is in the execution (an unfortunate choice of words, perhaps). It reads a little like a video game, with one blood-spattered vig ...more
Peter Petermann
Oct 23, 2015 rated it did not like it
I wanted to like this book. I mean it has all I love about a good story. A cyberpunkish theme, space travel, robots explosions.. So how could I not love it?

Well, it lacks a good story, where I'd expect descriptions about life in this dystopia I find mostly action sequences and gore. Where I'd like to see a believable protagonist, I find an extremely flat character. Starting with the boring and overused amnesia plot device (seriously, there are better ways to create suspense), going to the actio
Jun 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012-read
It's quite apt that this novel is called The Departure. Not only is it a departure from Asher's Polity Universe (where all but one of his prior novels are set, the exception being Cowl), but it's a departure from the typical space opera Asher has treated us to over the years. The big question is: is this departure successful, or not?

Before I go into my review of the novel, I need to give you a little background on what I was expecting. The Departure is not Neal's first venture into Owner territo
Disclaimer: I love the Polity novels. I adored The Skinner. I'm a fan.

This is tough. There are bits here that I absolutely loved and wanted more of, especially the Antares Base storyline (I'll read the next in the series just to find out how they cope out there), the overthrowing of an oppressive, murderous regime, the post-scarcity worldbuilding, the human/technology interface. Lovely, lovely science fiction.

But then there's the agony of following Alan Saul Every. Step. Of the way. And I mean,
Jun 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Entertaining start to the Owner series. This is space opera of similar provenance to James S.A. Corey's Expanse and Kim Stanley Robinson's 2312, where humanity has colonized parts of the solar system, but is yet to move beyond, and equally cleverly and stylistically written.
Next, will alternate with Cibola Burn, and hopefully not tire of what is basically the same story line.
Paul Nelson
Jan 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012-books-read
Another excellent sci-fi novel from Neal Asher, the skinner is one of my favourite novels and this is not far from that. From ashers novels you are always guaranteed interesting tech ideas and unashamed violence. The chief protagonist Saul develops extraordinary technological abilities coupled with thoroughly enjoyable action scenes. However the telling of his history could have been handled differently, it needed to be spread out through the book not concluded early on and it should have been a ...more
Ms. Nikki
An AI/human has capabilities no one knows the limits of. He basically takes over a planet from another computer-enhanced enemy who put up a good fight at the beginning, but was swatted like he was never competition later on in the story.

We had a side-kick who was morally judging the crimes committed until she was put on the spot to make decisions.

Now everyone must obey this new "Owner."

I was not feeling it.
Bryan Brown
Aug 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci_fi
I enjoyed this book but only because of the excellent Asher action scenes. I have some problems with some other aspects of the book though.

First of all, I spent the entire book trying to figure out if this was Polity pre-history or not. I am still not sure. There are some items and things in this series that could be the precursor of things in the Polity novels. But there are other things that make me wonder if that is possibly true. The amount of destruction that takes place all over the earth
Jun 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
British author Neal Asher has made my list of favorite hard-sci-fi writers. This first book in the Owner trilogy was a stunning introduction for me to this author's skill. Much as how G.R.R. Martin took the fantasy world and turned it into something darker and grimmer than the usual setting whilst retaining all the things that make it fantasy, Mr. Asher does the same for Sci-fi. While other authors have done the dystopian future thing very well (Neuromancer; Blade-Runner; etc) this book is far m ...more
Sep 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Bourne Identity Space Opera

Welcome to a future where a lot of things have gone wrong. Democracy is a thing of the past. The bureaucracies of the world have taken over. The Commission sounds suspiciously close to the European Commission which I guess is not something Neal Asher is fond of. The environment is unpleasant and overpopulation needs a final solution. At least that’s what the people in power seem to be planning. Rebellion is hard since the Commission controls orbital laser weapons that
Tim Haley
Jun 21, 2014 rated it liked it
This book has been my least favorite read of Neal Asher material. In general I like his style with abundant and imaginative creatures and technology.

The first half or so of this book feels very rushed, and I felt under-developed. At times it read to me more like an outline of a book than a fully flushed out story. It had the feeling of the author being overly anxious to "get to the good part" of the story he knew was coming later. The author also has an odd predilection for using 'whilst' inste
Victor Chernov
Dec 21, 2017 rated it did not like it
I've revived my goodreads account to say - dear God, what the hell was this?

It was one of the worst books I've ever read. It looks like a 10-years-old combined his understanding of Ayn Rand and his ambition to write the next 1984 with spaceships and robots. The plot is predictable and obvious; the plentiful cliches have some 80s b-movies taste, and the anti-central-oppressive-government agenda is so unsophisticated that it is ridiculous. The only reason I kept reading was because I wanted to see
Jun 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, dystopian
This was a pretty fun read. The first half of the book is VERY dark and VERY bloody, so you have to be prepared for that. However, the intricacy of the plot and the detail are impressive. The author's preaching gets a little annoying at times, and there's a lot of exposition where the author tells you about the world rather than the character just living in it. Both of those detract from the overall feel of the book. However, the action is intense and pretty interesting, and will enjoy seeing wh ...more
Sarah Vecchi
I usually don't read sci-fi this technical. It was interesting, but kind of dragged with all the details. Also, descriptions of surgery really gross me out, so that was rough. Thought-provoking technological and political developments to consider, though, and an excellent narrator for the audiobook. ...more
Mar 17, 2021 rated it liked it
Just felt very old school. Loved the repackaged cover
Apr 18, 2021 rated it did not like it
Awful book, only got a couple of chapters in (around 40 pages). It's violent, dense, boring, and takes itself too seriously. ...more
Sam Vrooman
Mar 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book started out absolutely typical, but it picked up towards the end. Excessive amounts of violence and a very annoying protagonist are my primary issues.
Sep 27, 2015 rated it it was ok
Frankly, I’m not sure what to make of this book. If I look at it as a postcyberpunk action-adventure shading into space opera, it’s not too bad. If I were to weigh it on the merit of its neo-conservative vs. neo-fascist theme, I’d call it junk.

The core story is Alexandre Dumas' “The Count of Monte Cristo. The hero escapes an unjust and traumatic imprisonment and spends two years (not decades) preparing to take vengeance on his oppressors. In this case, the hero has the advantage of becoming a cy
Feb 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
On a future Earth, The Committee control every aspect of life or death and how much each person is worth. A world where anyone questioning the government can expect a stint in am adjustment cell and to be labelled a "zero asset" is tantamount ot a death sentence. A world where anyone fighting back can expect to be shredded by giant robots or fed into the ommunity digesters.

One man, waking up in a crate on its way to the incinerator, decides to bring it all crashing down!

Asher's view of things h
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Goodreads Librari...: Fix title 7 104 Apr 07, 2013 02:53PM  

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I’ve been an engineer, barman, skip lorry driver, coalman, boat window manufacturer, contract grass cutter and builder. Now I write science fiction books, and am slowly getting over the feeling that someone is going to find me out, and can call myself a writer without wincing and ducking my head. As professions go, I prefer this one: I don’t have to clock-in, change my clothes after work, nor scru ...more

Other books in the series

Owner Trilogy (3 books)
  • Zero Point (Owner Trilogy, #2)
  • Jupiter War (Owner Trilogy, #3)

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