Archive for Broken Angels

Woken furies

Posted in Books with tags , , on July 9, 2011 by xi'an

I have now finished a third volume by Richard Morgan, Woken Furies. As a third book, the incredible novelty has somehow worn out (in terms of a new Universe, new characters, etc.) but it remains a very good book, exploring the society and the political structures glimpsed during Broken Angels. On the positive side, the book explores at last the possible paradoxes created by resleeving as the occurrence of autonomous doubles, uncontrolled reincarnations, and the permanent loss of a person. The main character, Kovacs, is as ambiguous as in the previous novels, with terribly dark sides—as in his “crusade” against a religious order responsible (in action or creed) for the definite death of his lover—and a beginning of a self-questioning that is rather interesting.  A wee related with [my favourite] Chandler’s The Long Goodbye. Religious orders are thus more present than in the earlier volumes, maybe too close to existing situations, but interesting nonetheless. The fact that the reincarnation happens with the lost leader of the main revolutionary  movement of the past centuries has obvious consequences on the political setting of Kovacs’ universe. The pace is as fast as in the other books, with a lot of unexpected deaths and combats, even though both the sleuth work and the military perspectives of the previous books. On the less positive side, I find some dialogues rather poor and lacking in perspective, some characters difficult to understand or improbable, a lack of constancy in Kovac’s beliefs, and (as previously) some chance occurrences completely unbelievable. All in all, this remains a high quality and enjoyable scifi’-cyberpunk novel! (Now is time to switch to another author, for a change!)

Broken angels

Posted in Books with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 18, 2011 by xi'an

`Statistically, ‘ she breathed.

`Yeah. You thought of that too. Because statistically, the chances of two expeditions, eighteen months apart both having the bad luck to stumble on deep-space cometary intersections like that?’

`Astronomical.’

Following my enthusiastic trip through Altered Carbon, I read the (2003) sequel Broken Angels within a few days, mostly during my day trip to Shanghai. Not only is it an excellent book, once more!, but Richard Morgan manages to change the plot and the atmosphere so much that it hardly feels as the same character is involved in both. There are a few links with Altered Carbon of course like the past of Kovacs and the reincarnation facilities (resleeving) but so few that the book could read on its own. The setting is very different, in that the main characters try to unearth (!) an artifact from an alien species (rather stupidly, or not?!, called Martians) in the middle of a planet war and in a highly radioactive zone. Apparently no longer sleuth work for Kovacs but a lot of action, even though he needs to uncover traitors, double-traitors and  motivations.  In my opinion, the ancestry of the book once again includes cyberpunks William Gibbson [more Count Zero than Neuromancer, with the predominant role of Voodoo, but still a major role of virtual realities], and Neal Stephenson (Snow Crash), but also Clarke with Rendez-vous with Rama, in that the entry into the Martian vessel is trying to describe an alien culture through its architecture with some degree of success. (In some sense, there is also a link with Greg Bear‘s Blood music, in that the military bioengineers in Broken Angels have designed a self-mutating nanotech device that reconfigures at the molecular level to overcome any new defense it encounters. With overwhelming efficiency. Until it hits the Martian defenses. Something similar to Bear’s blood cells getting progressive control of the Earth…) If I really have to draw a comparison between both volumes, I would reluctantly rank Broken Angels (very) slightly above in that the story was more clearly drawn than Altered Carbon which somewhat suffered from subplots. Today, I found the third Kovacs volume, Woken Furies in my mailbox at Dauphine, so I am looking forward yet another switch in style and background!