The Skinner was an entertaining blend of science fiction, horror, and planetary adventure. The planet Spatterjay the nexus, its waters teemed with prey and predator, while its viruses and bacteria ran rampant with biology, regenerating tissue in mutant forms, even offering immortality to humanity under certain situations. The setting ripe, in 2006 Asher returned to Spatterjay with The Voyage of the Sable Keech to tell a new story.
Sable Keech an inspiration to reifications everywhere, at the outset of Voyage a group of the post-mortals collects on Spatterjay with the intent of repeating Keech’s success from The Skinner: to regain mortality with the planet’s special blend of toxins. Building a ship in his honor, the Sable Keech, they head off on what they hope will be a similarly successful voyage. But other forces are at work. The WindCatchers, some of whom are unhappy with the increased alien traffic on their native planet, have their own political goals in mind for the voyage. The researcher Erlin, newly immortal thanks to Spatterjay’s virus, makes a discovery that starts a voyage of her own—an unwanted, bizarre voyage across Spatterjay’s volatile waters. Retiring from his stewardship as warden of Spatterjay, Sniper returns, outfitted with his old weapons-heavy drone body—and just in time: a Prador has re-appeared in Spatterjay’s waters. Multiple strands feeding into one big convergence at the conclusion, the Sable Keech’s mission is anything but certain.
While it’s not necessary to read The Skinner before Voyage, it comes recommended as an introduction to Spatterjay, not to mention an introduction to Asher’s straight-forward but successful style (if not already familiar). While I found The Skinner to be the more enjoyable novel, it would be for personal reasons only. Asher consistent if anything, The Voyage of the Sable Keech delivers another bit of science fiction/horror/planetary adventure that pushes all the buttons of his other novels: action, plot, and vibrant setting. Just don’t expect the novel to be more. u