The Departure : The Owner

  • by Neal Asher
  • Narrated by Steve West, John Mawson
  • Series: The Owner
  • 16 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The Argus Space Station looks down on a nightmarish Earth. And from this safe distance, the Committee enforces its despotic rule. There are too many people and too few resources, and they need 12 billion to die before Earth can be stabilised. So corruption is rife, people starve, and the poor are policed by mechanised overseers and identity-reader guns. Citizens already fear the brutal Inspectorate with its pain inducers. But to reach its goals, the Committee will unleash satellite laser weaponry, taking carnage to a new level.
This is the world Alan Saul wakes to, travelling in a crate destined for the Calais incinerator. How he got there he doesn't know, but he remembers pain and his tormentor's face. He also has company: Janus, a rogue intelligence inhabiting forbidden hardware in his skull. As Janus shows Saul an Earth stripped of hope, he resolves to annihilate the Committee and their regime... once he's discovered who he was, and killed his interrogator.


Audible Editor Reviews

Dystopian in the extreme, The Departure chronicles one man's brave attempt to save Earth from an oppressive bureaucracy bent on a catastrophic plan to winnow the planet’s population. Chilling and remote, this listen is best for fans of hard sci-fi who like plenty of action alongside detailed description of plot points, and political digressions of the Ayn Rand variety. Performers Steve West and John Mawson bring a cool, precise feeling to the story, which is well-suited to the author’s dark and harrowing vision.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Bites the Hand that Enslaves

No one can drive home the lethality of warfare in space like Asher; he seems to take a sadistic pleasure in the hyper-violent, extremely-detailed, slow-motion linguistic dissection of his fodder characters. And yet, we his readers will keep lining up for more! In this novel, the first of new series centering on a character who comes to call himself 'The Owner', Humanity has come under the tyranny of an elitist world government headed by 'The Committee', and we follow the stories of two individuals who stand up to that oppression. The Committee is an over-the-top caricature of every evil regime since Huxley's "Brave New World", complete with euphemistic propaganda machines, jack-booted secret police who institute casual genocide, near-complete population surveillance, and their own version of George Lucas' Death Star under construction. It is personified by two ruthless facility directors who separately come to be challenged by our two protagonists, and subsequently revealed to be pathologically murderers. It is frequently gratifying to read, in our heroes' march toward vengeance, the ensuing bloodletting and near-pornographic violence against persons and property, but only if one isn't expecting any profound themes or lessons behind it. The only one you'll find can probably be seen by page five: Oppression of the masses by the elite is bad. The story is at its strongest when its protagonists are at their weakest; nearly destroyed and facing certain defeat, and yet manage to cleverly outwit their predicament. For those readers who join me in a personal taste for more alien locales & life in their SF, I would instead point you to Asher's "Polity" series, but for those who are looking for some escapism set in a closer future and limited to strictly human cultures, you have no further to look!
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- SciFi Kindle "I'm a Hard SF & Space Opera-loving, alien android from the future. I bring gifts of SciFi eBooks & accessories for your leader's Kindle. Take me to him/her/it."

Realistic, frightening dystopic vision

Neal Asher's The Departure which is the 1st installment in the Owner trilogy, is a frightening realistic dystopic future vision of what may be the eventual outcome of the culmination of a digitally interconnected world that is both powerfully intrusive into individual lives, while at the same time, substantially vulnerable to abuse and corruption. Asher paints a terrifying scenario of a future with a fragile society where the bulk of humanity, referred to a "zero assets" (ZAs) offers nothing of value to an oligarchic government that is seeking a final solution for a sustainable future with their retention of total societal control. Into this mix comes a former genius, since discarded by the power elites, who is both mentally damaged, but also digitally enhanced to challenge the current regime. At the same time,a power struggle for survival is occurring in the fledgling Mars colony that was put on hold, while the Earth issues are sorted out.

The sci-fi elements are pure Asher with the primitive beginnings of artificial intelligence (AI) beginning to emerge and assert itself. There is much in the way of human machine interface that telegraphs Asher's long term perspective on the AI ascendancy. While the space elements are futuristic (a Mars colony, a massive orbital space station, military style laser satellites, etc.), there is nothing overly remarkable or imaginative about their design or utilization. At its heart, this is a tale of prophecy of the potential perils and pitfalls of civilization's expectations for a risk-less and careful future by turning over personal responsibilities to machines and a select group of fallible humans.

The narration is superb with an excellent range of voices, solid pacing, and a tone that perfectly aligns with the delicate, yet tense nature of the action.
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- Michael G Kurilla

Book Details

  • Release Date: 02-05-2013
  • Publisher: Audible Studios