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The Skinner

(Spatterjay #1)

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  5,566 ratings  ·  253 reviews

To the remote planet Spatterjay come three travellers with very different missions. Janer is directed there by the hornet Hive-mind; Erlin comes to find the sea captain who can teach her to live; and Keech - dead for seven hundred years - has unfinished business with a notorious criminal.

Spatterjay is a watery world where the human population inhabits the safety of the Do

Kindle Edition, 433 pages
Published August 21st 2009 by Tor (first published 2002)
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Hallie I would categorise it as adventure, some intrigue, a tiny bit of horror. There is some humour in the book, of course, but it's not comedic. :)
William Maxwell The impression I got is that a select group of people thought that death was too final for these monsters. They wanted them to suffer and for a long p…moreThe impression I got is that a select group of people thought that death was too final for these monsters. They wanted them to suffer and for a long period of time. And the head being alive was different than 'holy crap! How did it grow -that-?'

Also, there was a little bit of arrogance there in that the Old Captains were so strong, I imagine they fancied themselves up for any challenge the abomination could throw at them. Obviously.. they were wrong. :)(less)
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Mark Lawrence
May 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. I don't read a lot of sci-fi but I thought this was a very good read. For me this wasn't so much a book about characters as it was about the things they do and the world they inhabit. Fortunately the world/s they occupy are full of fascination of both the biological and technological varieties and there's a complex and fast moving plot. So whilst I didn't feel a great emotional investment in any of the characters, I was very interested in reading what happened to them ...more
A 700 year old ECS agent who happens to be a resurrected corpse
A “perpetual” tourist working for the Hornet Hive Mind
A Planet so dangerous that it can give wedgies to Harry Harrison’s Deathworld
A virus that grants virtual immortality and indestructibility
A centuries old AI war drone with an attitude and “authority” issues
An ancient enemy of humanity looking to start smack and raise a ruckus…
A psychotic, sadistic bitcharoony with a serious case of the crankies.
Oh…and...THE SKINNER!!

Dirk Grobbelaar
I don't know where to start. This book was bloody marvelous. It is dark, violent and entertaining. It is complicated and satisfying. It weaves many, many threads that culminate in splendid conclusions. The huge cast of characters, from the 700-years dead Sable Keech right through to the spunky submind/drone called Sniper, are all awesome. If you are interested in reading a book about killer fish, killer aliens, killer hornets, killer decapitated heads, killer AIs, killer crustaceans and all othe ...more
It's almost unfair just how good Asher is with his space opera. I mean, there's hardly any space in this one and I'm flabbergasted at how much awesome alien life can be crammed in a single book.

Of course, it could happen in no other place than the most f***ed up planet in the universe.

Spatterjay. The place where life just holds on. And on. And on. Nothing dies unless it gets THOROUGHLY destroyed. And that means every life form, once infected, is effectively immortal. ALL life forms. I swear, if
Jan 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
4.5 Stars

The Skinner by Neal Asher is one hell of an awesome creature feature meshed in a hard science fiction world.

“The Skinner was complete again and Janer had never before witnessed such a terrible sight. For here was a real monster: a blue man four metres tall and impossibly thin, hands like spiders, a head combining elements of warthog and baboon with much of a human skull, evil black eyes and ears that were bat wings, spatulate legs depending underneath the long jaw like feelers and, when
Apr 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every time I pick up a book by an author I have never read before I always hope to find a “new favorite”, most of the time this does not happen. I mean what are the odds? If I find a “new favourite” author every month I would not be a very discerning reader. The best I can realistically hope for is to discover a new author whose back catalogue I am keen to investigate. Still, occasionally I strike gold, I think I just did.

There are zillions of genre authors vying for my attention when I browse
Oct 28, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-it, scifi
I found it too much work figuring out who/what everyone was and where I was in the story. Otherwise, I really liked the planet life, dangerous creatures, and Keech.
I really thought I was going to enjoy this book. It is full of so many ideas: virus's that give the victim immortality, massive pirates with muscles so big they have to be careful they don't accidentally rip other people apart, weird aliens, bodies resurrected with the use of AI software, hive minds and sentient computers. I just didn't like it. I am sorry to say I read just over 100 pages then just couldn't take any more. I kept reading page after page thinking it was going to get better but it ...more
I was so excited about this book. Sailors! Viruses! Sea creatures! Oh my... A Caroline bonanza book. And for the first few chapters, it totally delivers. Wacky characters strengthened by viruses sail across salty, windy seas with alien creatures trying to take chunks out of them. Sea creatures wriggle and writhe and swim their way through in the oddest of ways. It's wonderful.

And then I seriously think someone took Asher aside and shook him by the shoulders, yelling at him, "Get down to business
Harold Ogle
This is a great post-nanotech thriller/adventure SF story. Say that five times fast.

It's also the first Asher I've read, and I find his writing broadly similar to both Alastair Reynolds and Iain M. Banks in the setting and even type of story being told. That said, it's definitely distinct from either of those, most notably through the heavy reliance on nanotechnology and the different approach to Artificial Intelligences (the ones here are more similar to Banks' Culture drones, but they're much
Jun 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

The word for world is ... Ocean (apologies to Ursula Leguin). This is Spatterjay, a waterworld populated by decidedly hostile fauna, backdrop for a richly imagined multi-threaded story that rivals the best SF books of the 2000s. Quite a tour-de-force worthy of multiple re-reads, and deserving of the lofty 4+ rating on Goodreads.

Here we meet Sable Keech, the most interesting of a long list of characters, a reification (resuscitated dead person), following the centuries old trail of a criminal. An

Apr 28, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, far-future
I tended to consider Neal Asher as "ersatz Iain M. Banks". Good enough to give me a dose of Space Opera adventure with some brains, while waiting for a new Banks book that usually made me think harder.

This is the book that changed that view. The Skinner follows many of the Space Opera conventions, including big adventure, big guns and bigger than life characters. Much bigger than life in this novel, as coping with inmortality, and boredom, and past mistakes and crimes, is one of the common threa
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tts-vs-jla
This was a hard book to get into and follow. It took a while to work out who everyone was and actually what has happening in the book. It ends up coming down to a basic find and kill the bad guy book. Although in this case the bad guy has turned into a headless alien that is nigh indestructible.

The characters were interesting once you could work out who was who. I like Keech and his ability to heal themselves with his machine augmentations.

A lot of the ideas in the book were amazing, and to me,
Deborah Ideiosepius

This was a brilliant book, everything I have heard claimed about it is true. The Sci-Fi element is excellent and the fact that it is on a Marine based world totally rocked my boat (pardon the pun). I thought the world building was utterly spectacular. There is always something exciting about the really dangerous worlds created in Sci-Fi, this is one of them. On Spatterjay, most life is marine, all of it wants to kill you slowly and painfully and most of it, right down to the prawns, leaches
There was a really good and interesting story in this but there were just so many characters so that I couldn't process them all so I kept skipping chunks of parts of less relevant characters and when they became more important later on I didn't know what's going on anymore. What I was able to follow was great, though.
There were characters which parts I really liked and if this book just focused on only a few points of view I might have actually loved it. But the way it was it just increasingly
Michael Battaglia
Neal Asher, you surprise me.

After I read "Gridlinked" I had noted that he had thus gone zero for two in terms of an interesting reading experience for me, but I was pretty sure that was the last book of his I had in queue. Alas, as I started the next pile over I noticed that there was yet one more book with his name on lurking about halfway down, seeming proving that my twenty-something year old self who bought was out to spite me and guaranteeing that if I ever had the opportunity to go back in
Mar 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
4.5 stars

Spatterjay is a water world with extremely hostile fauna and was once a site of a terrible war crime - a group of criminals exploited the local virus that turns humans into hooders, making them nearly indestructible. Then they sold them to the alien Prador to become the slaves - blanks with their minds destroyed - or food. For seven hundred years, a Polity cop turned into a reification - basically resurrected corpse - had been hunting them throughout the universe. He, an adventurer work
Oct 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
On Spatterjay it's eat or be eaten. Everything is on something else's menu, no exceptions. The leeches that infest the ocean and the land carry a virus that repairs injury and prolongs life - nothing like an endless supply of food for these leeches.

Three humans have come to Spatterjay, each with their own agenda...Sable Keech, a Polity monitor dead for over 700 years but still seeking the last of the eight people he swore to bring to justice for crimes against humanity during the Prador war; Erl
May 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sff
This is the forth Polity novel I've read and I think...I think I love this universe almost as much as Banks' Culture. (I never thought I'd say this.) The Skinner takes place on Hooper (aka Spatterjay), a planet not entirely under polity control and infested with the most aggressive fauna I've ever come across. Not surprising, then, that it's the fauna (and the virus it transmits, making humans near-immortal and virtually indestructable) that is the basis for the entire plot: a dead guy, a biolog ...more
Aug 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Although I have enjoyed all the previous books on The Polity(I am reading the books by the order they were published) up to now this is my favourite one.

In this sea world planet we have a virus that grants amazing strength and regeneration capabilities(virtual immortality) to every being that comes to be infected with it via a leech bite - the world is packed full with them leeches! Beware that the virus can have a very adverse effect on humans if they don't take certain precautions - it is sai
Sep 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
By far the best book that I have read this year! Seriously...Neal Asher has a penchant for world-building that puts most writers (myself included) to shame. The characters are fantastical and multi-faceted and I had more than a few favorites, but the world of Spatterjay in Asher's 'Polity' universe takes precedence in everything both macro and micro. The story, if such a loose term could be used, is about a crime that needs to be avenged. It revoles around the epic seas of Spatterjay, the Spatte ...more
This book is full of interesting ideas, immortality through viruses, dead people resurrected via AI software, hive minds, sentient artificial intelligences who can create subminds, sentient sails, aliens who use humans as drones,... but somehow I didn't really enjoy this book very much.
I can't put my finger on it but I always felt one step behind the story. I was lost in the world Neal Asher created, not understanding the rules I couldn't really anticipate the plot and connect the dots.
2,5 stars
Oct 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A captivating mix of science fiction and fantasy. Containing all the swashbuckling excitement of a YA story, but ratcheted up to a gritty adult level, this crazy weird novel includes killer crustaceans, a decapitated captain, carnivorous crabs, hornet hive-minds, AIs with attitude, lecherous leaches, super-human sailors, a vile villainess and a mummified zombie cyborg. A very original mix...just way, way cool. Looking forward to reading Spatterjay #2, The Voyage of the Sable Keech.
Kelly Flanagan
Dec 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another great Neal Asher!
Sep 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
This was my first Neal Asher book, and he is now solidly on my good list.

The story takes place on the planet Spatterjay, where the native lifeforms are incredibly predatory and carriers of a virus that gives them incredible healing powers and super strength, basically making them immortal. The world-building is based around this concept, and it's really well done. The virus's role within the native ecology makes sense and the little glimpses of the food chain on Spatterjay that precede each chap
Apr 02, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
I bought this book on a whim at a Barnes & Noble, mostly because the cover looked interesting (Note: The cover shown here on Goodreads is a totally different cover and frankly I wouldn't have bought the book based on it. Yes, I judge books by their cover). This is my first foray into the Polity universe, and I know the Spatterjay series is kind of a standalone offshoot of his main Polity stories, so I felt lost a little bit with some of the details Asher went over in this book that referenced ot ...more
Dec 20, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Wandered off.
James Bennett
Jan 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
by Neal Asher


'The Skinner' by Neal Asher is easily one of my favourite novels. My copy has now been read so many times that both covers are held on solely by tape.

The story is set in Asher's 'Polity', a potential future wherein artificial intelligences (AIs) benevolently rule humanity's interstellar dominion. This novel focuses on the planet of Spatterjay, a brutal but intricately-realised locale, and one of the most brilliant science fiction settings I know of. Against

Ahmet Asker
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
it's one of the most great novels
Dec 17, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book Review: The Skinner by Neal Asher

Published in 2002 by TOR Books

Cover Illustration by Jim Burns

Artwork located via

It was not until half way through the novel, which clocks in at 424 pages in the edition owned, that the name of the planet Spatterjay was read correctly. It kept looking to be Splatterjay up until that point. In the context of the novel, either could work superbly. Spatterjay evokes a more artistic element, which as the book progresses is slightly more disturbing, and
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Where to go from here? 4 25 Mar 25, 2014 07:10PM  
Sable Keech is a great character... (Spoiler) 1 17 Oct 24, 2010 07:53PM  

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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

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Spatterjay (3 books)
  • The Voyage of the Sable Keech (Spatterjay, #2)
  • Orbus (Spatterjay, #3)

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“Satisfaction, for us, is only a brief thing. The man who acquires wealth does not reach a point where he has enough. Success for us is more like acceleration than speed. Interest cannot be maintained at a constant level.’ Let it wrap its antennae round that one, Janer thought. But the mind was quick with a reply. ‘You cannot stop, then?’ said the mind. ‘No,’ said Janer. ‘Except to die.” 0 likes
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