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Lockdown Tales

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Best-selling author Neal Asher was far from idle during the isolation of lockdown; he kept himself occupied in the best way possible: he wrote. And his imagination was clearly in overdrive. Five brand new novellas and novelettes and one novella reworked and expanded from a story first published in 2019. Together, they form Lockdown Tales, exploring the latter days of the P Best-selling author Neal Asher was far from idle during the isolation of lockdown; he kept himself occupied in the best way possible: he wrote. And his imagination was clearly in overdrive. Five brand new novellas and novelettes and one novella reworked and expanded from a story first published in 2019. Together, they form Lockdown Tales, exploring the latter days of the Polity universe and beyond. What lies in wait for humanity after the Polity has gone? Six stories, 150,000 words of fiction that crackle with energy, invention and excitement. Within their pages you will encounter Prador, hoopers, sassy A.I.s, a resurrected Golem, a mutated giant whelk that can ravage an island, hooders, megalomaniacs, war drones, Penny Royal, an intriguing SFnal take on High Plains Drifter and another with echoes of Robinson Crusoe... In fact, everything you might expect from concentrated Neal Asher and more.


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Best-selling author Neal Asher was far from idle during the isolation of lockdown; he kept himself occupied in the best way possible: he wrote. And his imagination was clearly in overdrive. Five brand new novellas and novelettes and one novella reworked and expanded from a story first published in 2019. Together, they form Lockdown Tales, exploring the latter days of the P Best-selling author Neal Asher was far from idle during the isolation of lockdown; he kept himself occupied in the best way possible: he wrote. And his imagination was clearly in overdrive. Five brand new novellas and novelettes and one novella reworked and expanded from a story first published in 2019. Together, they form Lockdown Tales, exploring the latter days of the Polity universe and beyond. What lies in wait for humanity after the Polity has gone? Six stories, 150,000 words of fiction that crackle with energy, invention and excitement. Within their pages you will encounter Prador, hoopers, sassy A.I.s, a resurrected Golem, a mutated giant whelk that can ravage an island, hooders, megalomaniacs, war drones, Penny Royal, an intriguing SFnal take on High Plains Drifter and another with echoes of Robinson Crusoe... In fact, everything you might expect from concentrated Neal Asher and more.

30 review for Lockdown Tales

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Lupa

    A fantastic collection of short stories/novellas exploring polity adjacent ideas/situations. Mr. Asher sometimes has a tendency to go dark, and these seem moreso than his novels. They went down smooth, and I'd recommend them to anyone who is already enjoying Polity content. A fantastic collection of short stories/novellas exploring polity adjacent ideas/situations. Mr. Asher sometimes has a tendency to go dark, and these seem moreso than his novels. They went down smooth, and I'd recommend them to anyone who is already enjoying Polity content.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Clay Brown

    Neal Asher’s Lockdown Tales are six separate stories in the future after the fall of the Polity Universe.  The first story is titled The Relic, and is concerning the War Machine that looks like a Scorpion, and needs to be ‘dug up’ and activated by a Golem posing as a human male.  It’s a fair first story. ================================================================ Ridiculous idea,’ said the man. ‘And quite likely you’ll damage the relict!’ ‘I don’t think so,’ Rune replied. ‘It’s undamaged, as f Neal Asher’s Lockdown Tales are six separate stories in the future after the fall of the Polity Universe.  The first story is titled The Relic, and is concerning the War Machine that looks like a Scorpion, and needs to be ‘dug up’ and activated by a Golem posing as a human male.  It’s a fair first story. ================================================================ Ridiculous idea,’ said the man. ‘And quite likely you’ll damage the relict!’ ‘I don’t think so,’ Rune replied. ‘It’s undamaged, as far as we can see, from having been swamped in lava.’ ‘And what precisely do you expect that to do?’ asked the woman snootily. ‘I expect we’ll perhaps see some activation of some of its parts,’ Rune replied. ‘We can then continue from there. We will learn something at least instead of simply recording what is easily evident.’ ‘And what is easily evident?’ she asked. ‘That it is a rugged war drone made in the shape of a scorpion and all but impenetrable to the technology we have available.’ ‘In your expert opinion,’ the man derided. ‘And,’ said the woman, ‘supposing this does manage to activate something, it could be very dangerous.’ Rune focused on her. ‘Are you saying that a Polity relict could be dangerous to us?’ December 2, 2020 at 12:41 AM ============================================================= Then in Bad Boy the 3rd story a huge monster on Spatterjay must be studied by a particular scientist with the help of a special AI.  Good yet serviceable story.  But the crowning achievement of Lockdown Tales is the story Plenty, about 120 pages, with a fine forecasting that had me remembering Andy Weir’s The Martian.  A crash landed shuttle, from a larger vessel in space, brings about one survivor.  Who creates a single home alone upon a dead Bio/Physical planet.  The story is good on its own but then the man finds a damaged female Golem buried in the ground, ANNA, for over a thousand years and the man attempts to activate it.  A sort of sexually charged relationship happens with the Golem and the man, who himself is dying and  needs extensive care from the Golem, Anna to return to health.  This particular story had me not wanting to put the book down.  And it seems to me that Mr. Asher would want to continue with the story as it ends with any number of questions.  He and the female Golem and what would be next certainly would be of a readers further interest.  A must story to read if you know the work of Asher. ================================================================== At first when he saw it, he thought rescue had arrived, for a big human stood on the plain gazing towards him. He raised a hand, suddenly joyful, but the man stooped forwards and, down on all fours, came charging towards him like a silverback gorilla, grunting and whickering. This was no man. He opened fire on the thing, hitting one shoulder, the flash lighting up carapace and gleaming metallic eyes. The creature swerved and disappeared behind a clump of podule foliage. Not so confident any more he pushed his barrow back to the house and closed the door. The next day he found mantid remains scattered all about the area and had to hunt further afield for them until their population grew again, sure in the knowledge now that they weren’t the apex predator here. December 7, 2020 at 1:22 AM “The passing thought that he should have gone round and said something at the graves came and went. The people in them were dead and decayed and humanity had long ago lost any belief in supernatural afterlives. And with the burial and the brief moments he had spent by the graves, he had long ago accepted their deaths. He pulled the door closed, fought the time-hardened seal until the latch clicked home, then went to join Anna in the cockpit.”  December 7, 2020 at 11:51 PM =============================================================== Penny Royal makes an appearance in Dr. Whip who becomes yet another of her most unique transformations.  Whip becomes a somewhat grotesque but accomplished healer to some great extent.  Whip's thirst to know Penny Royal brings him to her for a few moments but is a futile gesture.  Yet with most snake like results, Whip becomes that which he felt incorrect to his profession, meaning two snakes, instead of one. The actual meaning of a physician was to be a one snake wonder, on a pole, not two.  Meaning that One Head was supposed to be enough. ================================================================ “Dr Whip had his own theory about why he had survived. By now, he had the full story of Penny Royal’s ‘transformations’. He had met the contract killer whose weapons the AI had melded with his body, and the singer whose vocal range became immense, while her head became that of a bird, with a birdbrain inside too. He had seen one seeker of immortality frozen in a diamond and one seeker after God who, when taken out of induced coma, could only stare at the sky and scream. In every case, something unique about them had interested the AI, and influenced its transformation of them. And so it was with Whip, though he did not recollect asking for change. The Barnard suit had been a rarity in the Polity back then, and was rarer now. He felt sure that it had stimulated the black AI’s insane curiosity and that, in some twisted warp of its mind, it had decided the suit must be preserved and so made it a permanent part of him. But the other changes? They baffled him. They bounced most forms of scan and he could not fully understand them, though they were drastic and terrible.”  December 8, 2020 at 2:10 AM He never knew,’ he said. ‘He never knew what?’ she asked innocently. ‘That you are as unhuman as I.’ ‘No, he didn’t.’ She smiled sadly. ‘Nor did he know that the cures you sometimes provide are like the gifts of a certain black AI.’ That froze him. He knew this about himself but rarely acknowledged it. Yes, he healed even those who turned against him, but often his healing became a curse. Penny Royal had made him in its own image. December 8, 2020 at 10:55 PM =================================================================== Raising Moloch is another fine story of this most enjoyable book.  I’d never read short stories from Neil Asher.  In this story an astute Hooper scientist, Jonas is enlisted by a nefarious man of leisure, Ganzen who forces him to raise a Hooper from an embryo to be sold to renegade Prador living in Graveyard space.  This is done to some effect but then Jonas incorporates the original genetics of the Hooper’s creators, the Atheter into his Hooper.  Thus a true War Creature with great intelligence comes alive.  This isn't 'ding dong' Jurassic Park nonsense here! Doing so is Jonas who is hoping to escape the nefarious meanie Ganzen who enlisted “Mr. Giggles” A Bio Bot, to skin Jonas alive, once or twice.  Not wanting a repeat of such tortures Jonas becomes a particular enemy of Ganzen’s.  And to good effect as it turns out.  Who says "happy endings are dead?" Not Neal Asher. ======================================================================== “Jonas sat on the edge of his bed and, trying to get his mind in order, weighed pros and cons. He was entering ennui or perhaps already in it, the condition not being clearly defined. He had reached a point where interest and emotion outweighed his life. He was seeking novelty like all the others and that novelty might end up killing him. However, over the last week he had felt more alive than he had for years. So what should he do? Ganzen was obviously a nasty character who probably had some terrible purpose for a hooder. The killing of that man with a tiger perfectly illustrated that.  December 10, 2020 at 12:49 AM “In that time the hooder had continued to grow. The structures within its body had become much more defined and harder to ignore by anyone who inspected them and Caster had, by agreement, ceased to comment on them. They did at least have an organic appearance – they were not like the components of some early machine – but then so it was with most Polity robots now. When Ganzen arrived again, this time with Hoskins and two others dragging along some other individual between them, Jonas thought on inevitability.”  December 11, 2020 at 12:11 AM “Ganzen worked the control again, this time opening the inner door. He turned away as that door began to open, obviously annoyed, and moved round to look through the window. The hooder was up like a cobra about to strike, its hood directed towards that opening door. It abruptly dipped and shot over, its head end disappearing out of sight behind the door and wall on that side. The woman started screaming in sheer raw terror, then the hooder moved abruptly and Jonas saw her sail through the air, arms and legs wind-milling, to land in the centre of the enclosure. “Only when she shouldered into the rubbery surface and scrabbled up again did Jonas see the blood squirting from where her right arm had been crushed away below the centre of her forearm. Terror still drove her, for she scrambled for the other side of the enclosure as far away from the hooder as she could get. There she sat making a horrible keening sound.”  “The creature seemed to have returned to being voracious and he could not help thinking that it killed the woman the way it had because she was capable of suffering. This led him to thoughts on its form – how perfectly designed it was to extract every last dreg of agony from a victim – and that perhaps the Atheter who had made its kind had been cruel.”  December 11, 2020 at 12:30 AM SUMMATION All to say that Lockdown Tales is a success in more than one ways.  I wasn’t expecting anything new from Neal Asher for some time, as his last triple play (Trilogy) was the War of the Jain, which ended only about a year ago, last time out.   But then the Pandemic dropped, giving Mr. Asher some Lockdown Time of his own, which allowed him the valuable time to flesh out these nice Asher tales, during six months in England, I take it.     I didn’t know Mr. Asher is English.   All to say that an Asher book at $5.99 is somewhat of a discovery!  And at over 500 pages, something of a nice gift to while away the doldrums that such a so called Virus contains.    

  3. 5 out of 5

    Michael James Dillon

    Honestly this group of stories are some of the best I've ever read If you like hard science fiction, Cutting Edge artificial intelligence mixed in with the Art of War, then these stories are for you! This is one of those books that every story is outstanding. This man is an outstanding author, and this is money well spent Honestly this group of stories are some of the best I've ever read If you like hard science fiction, Cutting Edge artificial intelligence mixed in with the Art of War, then these stories are for you! This is one of those books that every story is outstanding. This man is an outstanding author, and this is money well spent

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ronald

    Neal Asher’s polity universe, developed in his Rise of the Jain trilogy, adds context to this five-story anthology. The stories in Lockdown Tales take place a thousand years after the fall of Jain biotechnology. It is a time of searching for forgotten science, biotech artifacts, and human devolution, a story made real by the recognizable pursuit of food, shelter, and life’s purpose needs. There is not a bad story in this book. Every one of them kept me engaged and made it hard to put the book do Neal Asher’s polity universe, developed in his Rise of the Jain trilogy, adds context to this five-story anthology. The stories in Lockdown Tales take place a thousand years after the fall of Jain biotechnology. It is a time of searching for forgotten science, biotech artifacts, and human devolution, a story made real by the recognizable pursuit of food, shelter, and life’s purpose needs. There is not a bad story in this book. Every one of them kept me engaged and made it hard to put the book down. The stories are all stand-alone; none needing a polity universe background to enjoy. At my slow reading speed, each story took about two hours to read which, for me, a bedtime reader, required two evenings. Neal Asher is a creative writer whose polity biotech explanations sometimes lose me. But pushing on, I was rewarded by literary action and touched by human emotional contact. If you like Neal Asher’s writings or you’re a Sci-Fi futurist, then you’ll enjoy reading Lockdown Tales.

  5. 5 out of 5

    John E Mack

    Great Original Writing Asher is great st the novella. His best strengths -- worlds building, passing, plotting -- are not hindered by his weaknesses, such as characterization. Four of the five novellas here are fine But one of them -- Bad Boy -- about attempts to eliminate a rogue shell (sort of a giant snaill) is extraordinary. As I grow older, I look more and more for freshness and originality in my reading, and Bad Boy offers it in spades as the protagonists jump aboard a giant molluscs to pre Great Original Writing Asher is great st the novella. His best strengths -- worlds building, passing, plotting -- are not hindered by his weaknesses, such as characterization. Four of the five novellas here are fine But one of them -- Bad Boy -- about attempts to eliminate a rogue shell (sort of a giant snaill) is extraordinary. As I grow older, I look more and more for freshness and originality in my reading, and Bad Boy offers it in spades as the protagonists jump aboard a giant molluscs to prevent it from damaging islands. The journey through the inside of Bad Boy to find out what is wrong is vaguely reminiscent of "Fantastic Voting" but a.lot less hokey. His other offerings are s little less original -- "Plenty" is sort of a cross between "Robinson Crusoe" and " "Pygmalion," but is otherwise well-told. "Moloch" is in part a tribute to his Jewish heritage, and even if its major reveal is predictable, is very exciting. All in well, a very fine effort.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Marcel

    I. like Asher. He's one of my favourite living SciFi writers. This is a great short story collection for those knowing the Polity Universe. Not all stories are as good as all others, but that's to be expected and also a matter of taste. I don't think it's for those new to Asher or the Polity series. Having said all this, as usual with recent Asher publications, it needs good EDITING!!! Loads of typos and spelling issues. Could also do with some actual editing. It feels like Asher write these in one I. like Asher. He's one of my favourite living SciFi writers. This is a great short story collection for those knowing the Polity Universe. Not all stories are as good as all others, but that's to be expected and also a matter of taste. I don't think it's for those new to Asher or the Polity series. Having said all this, as usual with recent Asher publications, it needs good EDITING!!! Loads of typos and spelling issues. Could also do with some actual editing. It feels like Asher write these in one pass, and the publisher gives a heck about quality. Come on guys, you cab do better. Show some respect to your paying readers!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mark Moxley-Knapp

    This was my introduction to Neil Asher, and... he ain't my cup of tea. All these are short stories set in his "Polity" universe, and if you like that and are familiar with it, you will probably like these. To me, they are random short stories, schlocky sci-fi stereotypes. Well-written, but they feel shallow, like a Clive Cussler novel (okay, better than that, but stilted and predictable.) This was a free ebook from Librarything, and I often love those. This, I couldn't finish. This was my introduction to Neil Asher, and... he ain't my cup of tea. All these are short stories set in his "Polity" universe, and if you like that and are familiar with it, you will probably like these. To me, they are random short stories, schlocky sci-fi stereotypes. Well-written, but they feel shallow, like a Clive Cussler novel (okay, better than that, but stilted and predictable.) This was a free ebook from Librarything, and I often love those. This, I couldn't finish.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ann Marie cheetham

    Always been fascinated by neal Asher worlds, I might not understand some of the Tec Margo but it doesn't get in the way of a good story.this has been one i did have the time to read ie lock down but didn't want it to end Unlike covid. If you enjoyed snow in the dessert you will love this book! If you have not read any of neal Asher books before your in for a treat. Always been fascinated by neal Asher worlds, I might not understand some of the Tec Margo but it doesn't get in the way of a good story.this has been one i did have the time to read ie lock down but didn't want it to end Unlike covid. If you enjoyed snow in the dessert you will love this book! If you have not read any of neal Asher books before your in for a treat.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Manes

    Great read for anyone who loves Asher’s work ... these are short stories that just add depth and color and pain in a good way to many of the characters and storylines that existed before you have to read it if you follow any of the polity series. It’s great to hand Neal Asher creating wonderous chaos.

  10. 4 out of 5

    John Wargo

    I love Asher's Polity books and stories, and this was a great selection of stories. You can tell they rushed this book to market though. A few typos and in many places you see the final edits made during the final edit, but not processed before publishing. Still a great and engaging read. I love Asher's Polity books and stories, and this was a great selection of stories. You can tell they rushed this book to market though. A few typos and in many places you see the final edits made during the final edit, but not processed before publishing. Still a great and engaging read.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ralph Blackburn

    Great Collection of Stories with an Edge! Six novelettes and novellas from Asher's Polity Universe. Here you'll find new tales of Spatterjay, play cat and mouse with a hooder, meet Penny Royal once again, and catch a glimpse of Polity fading away. Highly recommended! Great Collection of Stories with an Edge! Six novelettes and novellas from Asher's Polity Universe. Here you'll find new tales of Spatterjay, play cat and mouse with a hooder, meet Penny Royal once again, and catch a glimpse of Polity fading away. Highly recommended!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Peter Staples

    Really enjoyable At times I really enjoy Neal Ashers books but some of them I have trouble following. I really enjoyed this collection of stories, was able to stay engaged with them all the way through.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Bill Ramsell

    I was very unhappy when I finished this book, because I wanted MORE! An absolutely absorbing collection.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tim Tofton

    Another winner from Neal, 6 cracking tale's from the Polity. I think they were more novella rather than short story. Well worth my English pounds! Another winner from Neal, 6 cracking tale's from the Polity. I think they were more novella rather than short story. Well worth my English pounds!

  15. 4 out of 5

    James Parsons

    Great short reads during lockdown. Nice add ons to existing Neal Asher worlds and characters. Old friends and foes from one of my fave authors. Big worlds and big big stories but just a little shorter for the crazy Covid times. Winner.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Wiley Vinton Carter III

    Excellent Once again my world is cheered by the excellent darkness of Neil Asher’s Polity universe. Just the thing to round out 2020

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mark Andrew

  18. 4 out of 5

    James

  19. 5 out of 5

    Glen

  20. 5 out of 5

    Valdimar

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mr D N Sattar

  22. 4 out of 5

    Brian

  23. 4 out of 5

    Dave

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ronald E Jeffries

  25. 4 out of 5

    John Stodghill

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jukka

  27. 5 out of 5

    James H Vogan

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly Fisher

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jordan

  30. 4 out of 5

    Paul Klinger

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