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The Skinner  - Neal Asher 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 biologist, a space tourist and a handful of so-called Hoopers are hunting the Skinner, a man-turned-monster who has survived on his island without his head for hundreds of years. They travel on boats with sentient sails. AWESOME. Who needs spacecraft when you can have leeches.

It wouldn't be a polity novel without a warden AI and its attendant subminds. The drones are always my favourite characters, and I wasn't disappointed this time around. Their constant bickering and one-upmanship never fails to amuse me, and in particular the effects of injecting some of Sniper's 'attitude' code into some of the smaller drones had me laughing out loud.

The Skinner is funny in places, utterly gross in others, a bit violent, and highly entertaining. I can't wait to read the next Spatterjay novel.