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. And here too is the Spatterjay virus, delivered by truly eek-inducing giant leeches, turning ordinary sea-faring humans into perpetual, self-repairing leech-meal. Asher casually drops in the imaginative quotient of the whole Foundation series to produce an entertaining space opera that has not paled over the years.
With this further expansion of his Polity universe, [a:Neal Asher|56353|Neal Asher|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1207862001p2/56353.jpg] convinces me that his is a more engaging vision, compared to say, [a:Iain Banks|7628|Iain Banks|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1304977070p2/7628.jpg]'s Culture, which now seems too perfect and intellectual. In [b:The Skinner|240297|The Skinner|Neal Asher|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1316638195s/240297.jpg|1757149], staged on the boundary of the Polity, I find a grittier world populated with strange creatures. At the beginning of the book, it seemed I had walked into an alternate version of [b:Perdido Street Station|68494|Perdido Street Station (New Crobuzon, #1)|China Miéville|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327891688s/68494.jpg|3221410], with all the squishy, mushy beasts, all of whom seem to have an inimical nature. But the story quickly takes on a unique voice and brings the reader along on a truly wild ride.
The one nit is that it has no ending to speak of, but sort of fades to black to leave plot threads to be resolved in the sequel. Otherwise, highly recommended.