Friday, March 28, 2008

Ex Libris: Richard Morgan's Woken Furies

I know people here have heard me praise SF noir-writer Richard Morgan, especially after finishing his last two Takeshi Kovacs books. And I would definitely recommend Morgan to anyone who would want to read where the SF genre is going at the moment. But I suppose my too-high expectations finally got to me when I read the last Kovacs book, Woken Furies (2005).

I've always been impressed by Morgan's books with the near-immortality granted by its far-future technology. Obviously, when everyone can be immortal in new bodies thru "resleeving", newer methods of violence have to be invented and Morgan doesn't stint on elaborating on what it means to be human in such an inhuman and violent future.

In this book, Kovacs-- older and more bitter-- has come home to war-torn Harlan's World and gone on a vendetta against religious fundamentalists. In order to escape retaliation, he joins a group of militia troops decommissioning alien technology. Here, he runs up against his past-- literally-- when a younger version of himself who thinks he is God's gift to killing is set on his trail.

Damage. The wound stung like fuck, but it wasn’t as bad as some I’d had. The blaster bolt came in blind across my ribs, already weakened by the door plating it had to chew through to get to me. Priests, up against the slammed door and looking for a quick gut shot. Fucking amateur night. They’d probably caught almost as much pain themselves from the point-blank blowback off the plating. Behind the door, I was already twisting aside. What was left of the charge plowed a long, shallow gash across my rib cage and went out, smoldering in the folds of my coat. Sudden ice down that side of my body and the abrupt stench of fried skin-sensor components. That curious bone-splinter fizzing that’s almost a taste, where the bolt had ripped through the biolube casing on the floating ribs.

What's worse, Kovacs was once tied to the Quellcrist revolution that had engulfed Harlan's World, a revolution so bloody that the universal powers-that-be had done their very best to stomp it out. Now it seems Quellcrist Falconer, the fomenter of that revolution, is back from the dead-- and on the verge of setting off another uprising.

Overall, Morgan posits a fascinating picture of Kovac's world in the light of the character's previous history. Plus, he details a little bit of political philosophy on how future uprisings would be conducted. Obviously, thanks to immortality via technology, revolutionaries need not die for a better world. Rather, it would be better to wait in hiding and strike again and again until they succeed. For a country whose history is based on revolution (i.e. Bonifacio), I thought our very own communist rebels could take a page out of Morgan's book.

My problem with this book is what seemed a lack of story focus with Kovacs jumping all over the map. The pages still channel action-galore, the story dripping in sex and violence even as the noir tone keeps the narrative clipped and sexy. But in this book, I thought Kovacs seemed to meander from one place to another to fulfill requisite points in order to get the story moving.

Still, this book was a fine conclusion to the Kovac's series and something still worth recommending. (Rating: 3 paws out of 4)


Eldritch00 said...

Yet another author I've been meaning to get into, especially with my recent read of Neal Asher, who I associate with Morgan, because they're both said to write SF thrillers with a bit the old ultraviolence.

Funny thing is that the Kovacs novel I most want to read is the second one. Of course, I'm going to read all three, but I guess I just want to get into the mood to immerse myself here.

Incidentally, more about the interest in "genre fantasy," I'm thinking of trying out Morgan through The Steel Remains, too, although Market Forces might be more my thing.

banzai cat said...

Ah, if there's ever a writer I would pimp heavily, it's Richard Morgan. If you think Neil Asher is a slam-bang reading affair, you get the same with Morgan plus a lot to think on. He's that good. (And yes, I would say the 2nd book is his best though others would say it's his weakest.)

I haven't read Market Forces yet but I'm virtually slavering over his foray into fantasy, The Steel Remains. (Funny enough, there's already some comparisons between this and Joe Abercrombie's efforts.)