AncalagonTheBlack

The Richard Morgan Thread III

78 posts in this topic

15 hours ago, C.T. Phipps said:

I've read the second thread where all this went down and it seemed the problems started with:

"I'm uncomfortable with all the gay stuff."
"Maybe you have some latent homophobia."
"That's a serious accusation to throw around. Maybe you just suck."

And everyone else weighed in.

It's a pity as I really like when authors show up to discuss their books.

I agree. From what I read of it he certainly wasn't the only one firing shots and no-one was being so bad as being "dicks" about it. There was  some to and froing where folk wouldn't accept what Richard said was his intention in his writing. It was an empty argument from both sides (as both were right) but none were willing to concede that. It still didn't seem like a big deal as everyone involved appears to have thick skins

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On 5/21/2016 at 6:43 PM, Darth Richard II said:

From hat I've been told the sex on his SciFI books is very very very over the top/graphic. Way more than AsoiaF.

 

On 5/21/2016 at 6:56 PM, C.T. Phipps said:

Honestly, I think this is exaggerated. Then again, I've read my wife's preferred books (which tend to contain this sort of thing) as part of our marriage and am less bothered by it than some fans. I just basically skim the gay on gay on sex scenes and move on. Then again, I'm not a big fan of male-on-female lit sex scenes either. The sex scenes are important emotional and storytelling moments either way and it's the rare author who really makes sex scenes necessary in their work.

I'd say it's graphic, and I'll say I appreciate it being in there.  Thank GOD we normal people who like sex just fine don't have to go read some trashy romance novel to get it, and can instead have it in a good book with a good plot and characters and even scifi!!

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I'm about 1/4th through Altered Carbon and it's interesting how completely different the two series I've read are. In a very real way, Kovacs is a more noble protagonist than the ones in the fantasy series but he's living a very film noir world and is hardly a nice guy. I love the world-building and the analysis of how society is changed by sleaving. I'm with the Catholics on the fact it probably kills every single person who uses them and merely clones their minds but it works well regardless as something the people in the setting believe is a true path to immortality.

Edited by C.T. Phipps

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12 hours ago, Mandy said:

 

I'd say it's graphic, and I'll say I appreciate it being in there.  Thank GOD we normal people who like sex just fine don't have to go read some trashy romance novel to get it, and can instead have it in a good book with a good plot and characters and even scifi!!

Given books have to explain things in more detail to get the point across I wouldn't say the sex and violence are any more graphic than HBO/Starz/Cinemax. So while the books appear more graphic than say "Banshee" - it's pretty clear there are far more graphic books that would fall more into the "porn" comparison.

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Just finished Altered Carbon.

I've got to say this is a very different sort of book from A LAND FIT FOR HEROES and in a way, a bit more conventional but since I haven't read any good cyberpunk for a long time, I'm willing to overlook any of that. It's also a bit more high-sci-fi than the majority of such tales but has a nice exploration of the nature of re-sleeving and its consequences.

Interestingly, a poster on these forums talked about how he thought it was ridiculous to separate the mind and the body. That it broke his suspension of disbelief. While a theist, I actually don't think the book makes a case for the mind separate from the body. Society and the protagonists believe their consciousness moves from body-to-body but the very fact people can copy themselves means it's really a bunch of mental clones moving around like a computer program. Obviously, that's not how they view it but it's a delightfully twisted sort of idea and redefinition of humanity.

Amusingly, I'd been looking for a "Film Noir Detective Sci-Fi story" since Jim Bernheimer's PRIME SUSPECTS: A CLONE DETECTIVE MYSTERY and no offense to Jim my boss, but this is much better and Richard totally manages to nail the 1940s-esque mood to the place while also being set in the distant-distant future.

I didn't always agree with the portrayal of some characters (I'd totally be on the side of the Meths AND Catholics to be honest and think Ortega is an enormous bigot) but still think this is probably one of the best books I've read in the past five years.

Kudos, Richard.

Edited by C.T. Phipps

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I personally loved all the Kovacs novels AND Market Forces.  Still waiting for a Market Forces movie, because that could be extremely entertaining.  I envision something between Fast and Furious and Iron Man but in futuristic London.  It would be amazing.

I was about to make a generalization about how I like grittier scifi and happier fantasy, but that makes absolutely no sense considering I'm a huge Expanse fan and I've been a GRRM fan for what feels like decades now, so never mind.

It looks like Market Forces was optioned to Warner Bros before it was even published in 2004, but there's been no news of anything in the works.  Too bad.

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1 hour ago, C.T. Phipps said:

Amusingly, I'd been looking for a "Film Noir Detective Sci-Fi story" since Jim Bernheimer's PRIME SUSPECTS: A CLONE DETECTIVE MYSTERY and no offense to Jim my boss, but this is much better and Richard totally manages to nail the 1940s-esque mood to the place while also being set in the distant-distant future.

The next two Kovacs books do not fit that style, so if you still want more you should check out Warren Hammond's KOP books.

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6 minutes ago, RedEyedGhost said:

The next two Kovacs books do not fit that style, so if you still want more you should check out Warren Hammond's KOP books.

Thanks for the heads-up. Book 2# seems more like Sci-Fi Vietnam.

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2 hours ago, C.T. Phipps said:

Interestingly, a poster on these forums talked about how he thought it was ridiculous to separate the mind and the body.

There's an amusing scene in Market Forces where the protagonist is waiting for something and out of boredom picks up a Science Fiction paperback about a futuristic detective who jumps between different bodies while trying to solve a crime, the protagonist eventually gives up on reading it because he thinks the premise is too far-fetched to take seriously.

It looks like Market Forces was optioned to Warner Bros before it was even published in 2004, but there's been no news of anything in the works.  Too bad.

If I remember correctly, Market Forces was originally written as a screenplay.

Maybe if the Netflix Altered Carbon becomes a success that might encourage adaptations of other Morgan books, I reckon both Market Forces and Black Man could make good films.

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6 hours ago, C.T. Phipps said:

Thanks for the heads-up. Book 2# seems more like Sci-Fi Vietnam.

That sounds more like how I would describe Woken Furies than Broken Angels.  I would describe Broken Angels as Indiana Jones in space.

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On May 19, 2016 at 3:37 PM, C.T. Phipps said:

I just finished reading The Steel Remains and have decided I'm a fan of Richard K. Morgan. Interestingly, I'd read and enjoyed his work without ever realizing it since I was a huge fan of his Black Widow comic books. I thought he was the first person (as this was 2005), to treat Natasha Romanova as an actual character with lots of contradictory loyalties and stresses. I'm about halfway through The Cold Commands and am loving it. I'm also eager to purchase/read the Kovacs novels.

I have a few of Morgan's Black Widow comics, and I agree, they're a pretty good take on the character. 

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I think I'm going to have to reread Steel Remains and Cold Commands before finally getting around to Dark Defiles.

As for the sex scenes in the books, from what I remember, they didn't feel out of place. I didn't feel like they were a huge roadblock in the way of the plot. I have (arg...) waded through several of the mid-series Anita Blake novels, where the plot pretty much comes to a grinding halt for several chapters of sex per book. 

Edited by Liver and Onions
grammar

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I didn't get in to Steel Remains - though I have no issue with naughty scenes or alt main characters. Bring it on.

I did, though, enjoy the rocking shit out of Black Man (my American copy is titled Thirteen). I rarely jump into sci-fi, but I really liked it. For that reason, Altered Carbon has long been on my "Sometime I'll get to that" list.

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Just finished Broken Angels.

It's weird how little I gave a crap about the treasure hunt element. The heart of the story was about the war for me, which is interesting because Richard brings home how utterly pointless it is.

I also think Takeshi's reaction to it all was pretty damn insane.

Then again, he was never really loyal to any side of its members to begin with.

Edited by C.T. Phipps

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My Broken Angels review: http://unitedfederationofcharles.blogspot.com/2016/05/broken-angels-review.html

   Broken Angels is the second novel of the Takeshi Kovacs series. Whereas Altered Carbon was a future noir detective story in the future, Broken Angels is a war picture. Even the decades change with Altered Carbon feeling vaguely 1940s-like, Broken Angels feels like it takes place in a pseudo-Vietnam.  I was initially disappointed to see none of the original cast was returning from the first book but Takeshi himself and that this took place no less than thirty years later. I really became fond of Detective Ortega, the Bancrofts, and other characters as well as the Pulp-ish mood. Still, I was willing to give the novel a shot and am glad I did.

    Broken Angels' premise is Takeshi Kovacs is now a Lieutenant in the private military company of Carrera's Wedges. He's well-liked by everyone, which is somewhat mystifying since he's an absolutely awful military commander who snubs the men under his command as well as his superiors constantly. Blame it on Envoy training, I guess. After a particularly nasty battle, he's approached by a pilot named Schneider who claims to have a lead on a intact Martian spaceship that could elevate humanity's technological capacity by centuries.

    Forming a ragtag bunch of misfits from soldiers waiting to be re-sleeved (essentially, resurrected), he rescues a lovely archaeologist from a prison camp and heads after the ultimate prize. It's a good book, halfway between Three Kings and Apocalypse Now in Space. However, it does have one flaw: Takeshi Kovacs is a completely unlikable *******. It's always a balance with antiheroes as you never want to make them so awful the audience doesn't care what happens to them or too good as it costs them their edge. Here, Takeshi's actions really undermine the idea we should give a **** what happens to him.

    His constant betrayals, put-downs of anyone who believes in anything, and the fact he's solely motivated by money in an exceptionally brutal civil war make you question why we should care whether he succeeds or not. By the end, when he's engaged in a murderous rampage of retribution, I was actually hoping someone grabbed his stack (cybernetic memory recorder) and fried it.

    Personally, I don't think Richard Morgan meant to create a villain protagonist but I think he successfully did so. I don't mind a good villain protagonist either which is part of what I think the point of this book is. To quote J.R.R Tolkien: "We were all orcs in the Great War." Takeshi Kovacs just wants out of the conflict on Sanction IV and he's willing to kill anybody he has to in order to do it. That's perhaps not the most sympathetic of goals but it is certainly an understandable one.

    Richard K. Morgan has a engrossing horrific vision of war in the future. The savagery of conflict coupled with new and terrifying technological devices. It's a sobering idea that you can have a massive technological like the corporations and their mercenaries do but none of this will make the slightest bit of difference if the enemy is sufficiently determined. Neither side is portrayed as justified with atrocities having built up on both sides. The characters are all well-developed with the only problem I had being it was sometimes difficult to keep up with all of them thanks to the large number of Takeshi's recruits.

    I will say the romance, if you can call it that, between Takeshi and Tanya is more compelling than the one between Takeshi and Kristan Ortega in the original novel. After rescuing her from the prison camp, Takeshi manages to help treat her PTSD with Envoy techniques but it results in her falling in a mixture of love and lust with him. We get to see how sex is affected by perfectly simulated virtual reality as well as how mutable loyalties can be with Envoy training. I also think she was an extremely compelling character and ranks with the religious corporate Matthias Hand as two of my favorites in the series.

    Do I recommend this book as much as Altered Carbon? Not quite. I think it has some benefits over the original like better sex scenes and a more powerful backdrop with the war but Takeshi is less likable in this environment while the other characters tend to be sleazier. In a very real way, solving a Methuselah's murder is more compelling than finding a lost piece of Martian space junk. Still, I very much enjoyed the book and am glad I read it.

9/10

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Yeah most of us feel the same way about Broken Angels. It was slightly too raw; and Kovacs was at his most unstable. Its times like this that you remember that Morgan wanted to write the sci-fi version of a demon; you can give Kovacs all the rationalizations you want but at the end of the day its his purpose to fuck shit up and be terrifying as hell.

But luckily for you, you have Woken Furies waiting for you next. I think most people consider Altered Carbon to be stronger on the initial read but Woken Furies holds up so much better when you revist it, there is alot going on under the surface I feel, and it is the book that elevates this trilogy into a sci-fi classic.

 

Edited by Sheep the Evicted

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Val McDermid (crime author) chats to Richard K. Morgan about the increase in popularity of science fiction and its relationship with truth.Short clip from BBC Two - Artsnight, Series 3 Episode 10

Full episode where SF authors Ken MacLeod and Richard K Morgan are the guests on iplayer

Quote

Is fiction the best way to access the truth? Award-winning Scottish crime writer Val McDermid explores the relationship between fiction, video games and real-life crime documentary. She talks to Ken MacLeod and Richard K Morgan, whose science fiction novels offer a commentary on current political events. She meets Malath Abbas, the designer of Killbox, a new game about the ethics of drone warfare, and Lucas Pope, whose Bafta-winning Papers Please examines the moral and political decisions faced by an immigration officer. McDermid discusses the importance and the pitfalls of covering real-life crime with veteran documentary maker and criminologist Roger Graef.

 

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Just finished Woken Furies.

The end of the Takeshi Kovacs trilogy comes neither with a bang nor a whimper. For me, it reminds me of Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade. Like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Altered Carbon was the best of the series while Broken Angels did something different but was kind of a disaster (much like Temple of Doom). Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade returned to the formula of Raiders, much like Woken Furies does with Altered Carbon, but doesn't quite capture the same magic.

    Or have I completely lost myself with the metaphor?

    The premise of the book is Takeshi Kovacs is unsleeved on Harlan's World after the events of Broken Angels. Having returned to his ocean-covered half-Japanese, half-Russian world, he has to deal with culture shock from the way his home has become overrun with religious fanatics as well as the way the rights of the poor have been nibbled away by the upper classes.

    Joining up with a mercenary unit, he discovers a woman has become "possessed" for all intents and purposes by Quellcrist Falconer. Quellcrist is basically a combination of Che Guevara and Jesus on Harlan's World and her followers are determined to resume the fight they began three hundred years ago against the First Families with Takeshi caught up in the middle. Throw in Takeshi being hunted by his own double-sleeve (effective clone) and you have a very interesting premise.

    Kind of.

    I felt like this is probably the weakest of the trilogy while still being enjoyable. The book
largely depends on whether or not you sympathize with Takeshi Kovacs' moral dilemma over whether or not Quellcrist Falconer has actually returned. The problem is, the book does a fairly decent job of making it clear said revolutionary isn't all that impressive and an enormous hypocrite (which Takeshi points out).

    There's a lot of interesting places which Richard K. Morgan could have gone with the premise like the fact people often lionize people to ridiculous levels while ignoring their flaws or that a past revolutionary plopped in the future probably doesn't have any real insights into the new geopolitical climate. Morgan manages to hint at all of these interesting ideas but then chooses to play the role of King Arthur returned entirely straight. This is an odd thing to do for the book and, ultimately, the least interesting option.
   
    The "Other" Takeshi Kovacs is also a disappointment. Takeshi is being hunted by his own two-hundred-year-younger self. A figure who is, fundamentally, still the same man. However, he's one of the least interesting characters in the books because his personality exists solely to be an angry teenager thinking of "our" Takeshi as a sellout. Some more nuanced scenes where Takeshi talks about the horrors and losses he's suffered seems like it would have been a better use of our heroes' time.

    Harlan's World is an interesting new environment for Takeshi to explore and I would have liked to have spent more time there. I was less interested in the Martian technology present and more in the concepts of how the First Families related with the public, the local cultural traditions, plus how the world has changed since Takeshi's return. Sadly, a lot of time is spent on the Martian technology business and we only get bits and pieces of Harlan World's human element.

    Fans of grimdark will note Takeshi remains philosophically psychotic. One minor subplot is talking about how Takeshi murdered all of the adults in a village which killed an ex-girlfriend in an honor killing and how he's now working to exterminate the religion. There's an uncomfortable scene also where he lectures a woman about how her religion keeps her oppressed which comes very close to being "women's rights are only what I believe them to be." Which is hampered only by the fact the person he's lecturing is a caricature of a religiously oppressed woman.

    In conclusion, Woken Furies is an okay novel but my least favorite of Richard K. Morgan's works. There's a lot of thought provoking ideas but they are buried underneath an unclear center. Takeshi has long since passed the point of being irredeemable (which is part of what makes him so interesting) so confronting the complex ethical questions of war, peace, and revolution are things which he's just not a very good character for. Still, there's a lot of interesting stuff in the book regardless.

7/10

Edited by C.T. Phipps

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