Cowl (novel)

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UK cover of Cowl
Author Neal Asher
Country Great Britain
Language English
Genre Science fiction novel
Publisher Tor Books
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardcover & Paperback)
Pages 422 pp
ISBN 0-7653-5279-6
OCLC 66908092

Cowl is a 2004 science fiction novel by Neal Asher. The novel deals with time travel and an epic time war between two factions from the 43rd century.[1] Asher first started working on the novel as a novella named Cowl At The Beginning, which he eventually developed into the full novel Cowl.[2]

Plot summary[edit]

The novel follows Cowl, a human male that was genetically engineered to be the perfect specimen of human evolution. However he is also on the run from the Heliothane Dominion, which considers him their enemy. In an attempt to stop the rule of the dominant Heliothanes, Cowl travels back into the past in order to make himself the dominant force. Cowl intends to create this through the use of human samples collected throughout time, samples that he quickly disposes of once he's finished with them. When Cowl pulls the twenty second century prostitute Polly and the government soldier Tack through time, his plans might not be as easily executed as he thought.


Critical reception to Cowl was mostly positive,[3] with fan reaction being mixed.[4] SFRevu praised the novel, citing it as "fast moving".[5] U-T San Diego and the Denver Post both gave positive reviews, with U-T San Diego calling it a "whopping good story".[6][7] SF Site wrote that while the book was "satisfying simply as an adventure story, Asher's ambition and obvious knowledge of the field suggest that with a little more time for character-development and exploring individual motivations, Cowl could have set new standards for the time-travel novel, instead of settling for being an entertaining up-date of a classic tradition."[8] Kirkus Reviews cited that while the "time-travel rationale holds up ... it’s impossible to understand the motivations of the movers and shakers", which kept them from caring about what happened next.[9] SF Crowsnest wrote that Cowl was initially hard to get into but that the book had a "satisfying climax".[10] January Magazine stated that they were "breathless" from Cowl but that there was "just so much to take in".[11]


  1. ^ Jarrold, John. "Neal Asher interviewed by John Jarrold". Infinity Plus. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  2. ^ Martin, Tomas L. "Neal Asher Interview". SF Crowsnest. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  3. ^ Sheehan, Bill (Jun 12, 2005). "You can take the past with you in these futuristic tales.". Washington Post. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  4. ^ "Interview with Neal Asher". SFF World. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  5. ^ Berlyne, John. "Cowl by Neal Asher". SF Revu. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  6. ^ Cleaver, Fred (May 22, 2005). "A twist on travel in time". Denver Post. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  7. ^ Hopper, Jim (May 8, 2005). "Someone comes, someone goes, and the neighborhood gets more and more peculiar ...". U-T San Diego. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  8. ^ Johnson, Greg. "Cowl by Neal Asher". Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  9. ^ "Cowl by Neal Asher". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  10. ^ Martin, Tomas L. "Cowl by Neal Asher". SF Crowsnest. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  11. ^ Shechter, Andi. "Review: Cowl by Neal Asher". January Magazine. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 

External links[edit]