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Dark Intelligence

(Transformation #1)

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  5,337 ratings  ·  384 reviews
"Dark Intelligence is the first novel in the Transformation series, a no-holds-barred adventure set in Neal Asher's popular Polity universe.

One man will transcend death to seek vengeance. One woman will transform herself to gain power. And no one will emerge unscathed . . .

Thorvald Spear wakes in hospital, where he finds he's been brought back from the dead. What's more, h
Hardcover, 402 pages
Published February 3rd 2015 by Night Shade (first published January 29th 2015)
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Randall It was the first I'd read by Asher. Once I finished, I starting reading everything I could get my hands on by this marvel. The second book in the seri…moreIt was the first I'd read by Asher. Once I finished, I starting reading everything I could get my hands on by this marvel. The second book in the series, War Factory, is even better IMO. I can't wait for the finale!(less)

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Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
Beautiful artwork by Jon Sullivan.


I wasn't sure I was going to finish this book at first. I was confused as to what was going on in the beginning. I'm not all together sure I still understand it but as the story moves on I figured some things out.

If your wanting a really dark sci-fi read then this one is for you.

There are these octopus type aliens called the Prador that either eat you or do other horrific things to you.

You have rogue AI's that do some really messed up stuff to you! And the nu
Oct 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is easily the best Asher novel I've read. I'm kinda surprised.

I mean, between Pennyroyal and the whole hooder transformation, with so much body horror, memory modifications, and the multiple-revenge storylines with all these characters clashing against each other, I was blown away.

Most of the other Asher novels had big action, flashy action, and a plethora of great ideas, but the characters were often hitting the level of interesting or adequate. There was something cartoonish about them.
Chris Berko
Mar 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
When it comes to Neal Asher I'm like those ladies in the black and white videos screaming for Elvis and the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show. I can't tell you how much I love him. Another great book expanding on what is already a vast universe.
Feb 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
I have seen these Asher/Polity books around for years but never felt compelled to give them a go. For whatever reason the blurb for this book caught my attention and I was able to jump on a digital library loan quickly. This ended up as a pretty solid four star read for me with some cool sci/fi ideas and interesting characters. Although this was my first read in the Polity universe, I never felt completely lost but do regret not trying some other titles so that I had a more complete feel for the ...more
Feb 01, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Man-eating aliens, oddly named AIs, dudes named Thorvald Spear
Neal Asher and his Polity series has been floating around for a while, but I had read mixed reviews and was never overly interested. However, the first book in his latest series was another Audible sale, so generally willing to give a new space opera a chance, I went ahead and downloaded it.

Dark Intelligence is a rather grimdark space opera full of big ideas: deadly AIs, planet-busting spaceships, ancient alien civilizations, hellaciously destructive weapons, obsessive protagonists and antagonis
 Reading Reindeer Cobwebbed

Gloriously engrossing science fiction in the classic mode, both military space opera and expansive futuristic philosophizing, DARK INTELLIGENCE is the first in an all-new series by accomplished and prolific author Neal Asher. From a soldier killed in battle against seriously ugly, hostile aggressive, aliens, to the renegade AI (artificial intelligence) who resurrects, repairs, and restores him a century later, and beyond--this new s
Aug 04, 2014 rated it liked it
high expectations and a novel that not many years past would maybe have been a favorite, but now it did not work that well as it basically lacks a human scale with everyone here starting from superhuman and getting to technological semi-deity; still liked the prose well enough to get through, but did not care about pretty much anything else, especially the characters which just lack any semblance of humanity to be interesting

May 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Review to follow after Hols 😀

Well, here I am back in the UK after my hols, and Ive been thinking about this book since I finished it a week ago. If I could give it 4.5 stars I would, it is a very enjoyable and exciting book. Why is it not 5, well i don't know, there was nothing wrong with it, great story, good characters and well written. Maybe if I read more Neil Asher (this was my first) I may end up giving a 5.
Some people have said that you need to read about the Polity Universe before readin
Mar 09, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
3.5 stars

This is my first Neal Asher's book and the first book I've read in his Polity world. Having that in mind, I am certain I missed many of the meanings and nuances, because Asher doesn't linger to explain if it doesn't have a direct impact on this story. I didn't have any trouble following the story though.

Thorvald Spear (what a name!) wakes up after being resurrected a century after his death in the war between humanity/AI union (Polity) and aliens. When his memories resurface, he knows t
Jan 25, 2015 rated it liked it
Sweeping, complex... and oddly unengaging. I think the characters were all either too unlikeable or idiosyncratic to be relatable, and all the multi-party scurrying around felt more like epic fantasy plot-coupon-ing than an actual plot; and the prose could have used another editing pass or two. I'll probably keep reading, but not as yet filled with enthusiasm for the rest of the series.
Jan 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2017, e-books
5 Stars

Dark Intelligence by Neal Asher deserves full marks for fans of the genre. This is a heavy action based hard science fiction filled with the most amazing technologies, creatures, space faring, fighting, and adventuring. Who cares if there are any short comings with the story, the plot, the characters, or even the writing. None of that takes away from the fact that Asher smartly continues to build on his Polity universe which gives us the reader a highly complex and dynamic world for us t
Simon Ford
Jan 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A welcome return to the Polity universe, long overdue.
This book should come with a warning, something like;


Thorvald Spear may sound a bit like a Nordic porn star from the 1970's but he is everything but.....

As events unfold after his resurrection, his desire for revenge kicks in.

The "turd heads in a fanward direction" to quote classic Asher.

The story is told from different characters P.O.V within each chapter which is a change of style, (I think, it's
Apr 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Book One in the Transformation trilogy. The first half was 4-star fun with character flashbacks of previous Polity novels. The courageous commando Jebel U-Krong from "Prador Moon", thralled Hoopers and crustacean Pradors from "Spatterjay", the AI Scorpion from, uh, "The Scorpion", and monster Hooders and Gabbleducks from "The Technician". But the second half turned into a 2-star clusterfuck with flat characters and senseless scenes of short-term gratification. I just couldn't thread all the indi ...more
Kristian Lindqvist
Jan 07, 2016 rated it it was ok
A fairly entertaining read that takes you places around the galaxy that Neal Asher has crafted out, my first experience with the author. Tasting notes: hard military sci-fi with a slight slashing/piercing-fetish.

Good stuff:

* doesn't get boring
* new characters that are introduced gradually add to the story
* satisfying technobabble that never is too far out as to sound completely unbelievable
* Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis -subplot in sci-fi version!

Less to my liking:

* main characters are sadly qui
Apr 27, 2015 rated it did not like it

Perhaps if I had realised that rather than being the first part of a series, and so bringing me in at the beginning of what sounded like a potentially interesting story, instead I was picking up a book which is set in a universe which Asher has already written over a dozen other books about, I may have enjoyed this more.

Having read one other book, Gridlinked and quite liked it, I thought I would give this one a go. However, it did not take long for me to realise that there were reference
Jun 27, 2016 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
This copy is an uncorrected bound galley of this book.
Feb 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
First off, I love pretty much everything that Neal Asher writes, so I admit to being a tad biased. Whenever Asher drops a new title, I drop whatever I am reading to grab it. While 'Dark Intelligence' is the beginning of a trilogy and could be read alone, to understand why I gave this book 4 stars instead of 5, is to fully immerse yourself in the world building of his other books.

Oh more than a few of the superstars from his other novels and shorts make reappearances in this new work. Awesome, g
Jo  (Mixed Book Bag)

Dark Intelligence is a very complex story that starts out with the POV of Thorvald Spear and gradually adds new characters and new POV’s. Asher has written books set in the Polity Universe before so much of the background world building was done in previous books. This is book one in a new series so even though I had not read anything by Asher before it worked well as an intro to the Polity.

Penny Royal, a rogue AI, is at the heart of the story. Everyone has some connection to the AI. Most want t
Tim Hicks
Jun 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
The more books from Asher's Polity setting you've read, the more you'll like this one. It just so much richer when you have the history of the characters and places.

OK, we have smart, wisecracking AIs doing amazing and often creative things. We have species transformations, new ways to break things with physics, some nasty gory scenes that are relevant, and indeed some philosophical examination of the ethics of violence in a universe where death isn't necessarily final and even memories can't
Feb 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The thing that amazes me about Mr. Asher's works in the Polity realm is that all of the books and short stories tie seamlessly into the overall timeline of the Polity Universe. Dark Intelligence is no exception and expands upon the Penny Royal character in many creative and unexpected ways. The worlds of the Polity (such as Masada) are revisited while new worlds are introduced with colorful characters including humans that yearn to be Prador.
I highly recommend this book to folks familiar with p
Peter Tillman
Um. This was an inadvertent partial reread of a 2015 Polity novel. My 2015 booklog notes gave it a B+, but also notes that I'd forgotten it by the end of that year.

This reread reminded me of why I'd quit reading the Prador War books, and most of Asher's stuff. The Prador are just too dark for me -- I mean, giant alien crabs that like to dismember and eat people! This one is the start of a Prador War veteran's search for a rogue AI named Penny Royal, who had killed his comrades back in the war. O
Apr 02, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: sf
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5* great story but couldn't really connect with the characters. Although, not a loss since most are really nasty pieces of work.
First, if you don't want to get lost in the plot you should probably read The Technician first since you probably need to know what a Hooder and a Gabbleduck is.
This is a multi threaded plot following a couple of characters who have been screwed over by a rather nasty rogue AI called Penny Royal and are now hunting it down, intent on a bit of revenge. Other threads fo
May 20, 2015 added it
Unfortunately I cannot finish this one, or at least, I may revisit it another time. Asher is always a guaranteed dark read, and his writing is remarkably visceral, but every page felt like the previous one, and all became too much of a blur here. I liken it to continuously looking at H.R. Giger's paintings one after another after another.
Sep 26, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: sf-fantasy
Couldn't finish. The writing is awkward and clunky but I was willing to give it a chance since it wasn't "bad" so much as "just competent" and I hoped the story would be interesting. But it wasn't.

That, and the male adolescent sex fantasy episode before we got past page 50 were enough to make me move on without regret.
Bryan Brown
Nov 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci_fi
Somehow I entered my review into the notes field. Shamelessly copy and pasted from my notes:

This is the start of a new trilogy in the Polity universe. It is primarily about the "dark" AI Penny Royal. Dark in this case means an AI that is not predictable and hence not controllable by the Polity AI government.

Some of my favorite Asher characters are his AI characters and this story does a good job of adding to the background of one of the most obscure of all his AIs.

Funny enough most of the stor
Craig Anderson
Sep 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
As dark as Peter F. Hamilton, and nearly as fun as an Iain M banks Culture novel, with nods to both. And a rare bonus for scifi: It doesn't totally rush or botch the ending --- will wonders never cease? My first book by Asher, and I'm looking forward to more.
Aaron Scott
Feb 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Five stars are not enough. This story is far beyond what I expected. It is rich and deeply imagined, similar to a book by Neal Stephenson or William Gibson.

Perhaps a bit more approachable than theirs, and very fun to experience.

The story itself moves quickly. Each page a minor revelation or discovery of what is to come.

There was a tiny bit of repetition, a voracious reader will notice it, although someone who is taking their time will probably appreciate the subtle reminders. It's not distrac
Oct 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a good one for beginner asherists. It explains everything in the Polity universe. And I mean EVERYTHING. Sometimes I wonder if it's not too much for someone just entering this world. This book has hooders, hoopers, jain, gabbleduck, haiman, catadapts, prador, dragon, dracomen, Masada, Amistad, the brass man, damn it even has Jebel U-Cap Krong making an appearance. Personally I like it a lot.

OK, I just finished it. It was good. I'm not saying it blew my mind away but everything I like abo
Steven Stennett
Jan 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Solid piece of science fiction.

The technologys within the book, are well thought out and presented in a very user friendly manner, that dose not bog down the fast pasted story in anyway.

This is what I want in my science fiction ships weapons and tech that is seamlessly woven into a an engaging story!!!!
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Space Opera Fans : Dark Intelligence by Neal Asher 13 66 Nov 10, 2015 03:11AM  

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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

Transformation (3 books)
  • War Factory (Transformation #2)
  • Infinity Engine (Transformation, #3)

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You know the saying: There's no time like the present...unless you're looking for a distraction from the current moment. In that case, we can't...
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“by which time the turd trajectory would be fanwards.” 2 likes
“If Polity forces were to turn up here, then your king would have to respond, by which time the turd trajectory would be fanwards.” 2 likes
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