Broken Angels Paperback – Sep 4 2008
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Broken Angels is a standalone sequel, to Richard Morgan's debut novel Altered Carbon--a high-tech, ultra-violent, noir SF thriller which attracted much attention, including a movie deal.
Thirty years later, our super-soldier hero Takeshi Kovacs is wearing yet another body (swapping is easy in this future), already wounded in a messy war against revolutionary forces on the planet Sanction IV. Very soon he's lured from his duties into a hunt for a fantastic treasure discovered by archaeologists and carefully hushed up. The long-vanished Martians who once colonised the galaxy have left a buried hyperspace gateway leading to a working starship in distant orbit.
Kovacs uses frightening violence to get the attention of corporate sponsors even more ruthless than himself. His hastily assembled exploration team must work in a lethal fallout zone, racing to open the gate before they're stopped by radiation sickness, treacherous sabotage, or the threat of fast-evolving nanoweaponry. And there are repeated hints that if they ever make it through that gateway, worse things are waiting on the far side...
It's all desperately tense and crafted with appalling inventiveness. Life is cheap and death is no release, because the "cortical stack" implanted in everyone's spine constantly records the total personality, ready for "re-sleeving" in a new clone body or storage in virtual reality. So Kovacs goes recruiting at the macabre Soul Market, where thanks to the war there are literal skiploads of hacked-out sections of human spine containing stacks--for sale by the kilogram.
Other ingredients include sex, voodoo, torture, multiple betrayal, cool military technology, incomprehensible alien constructions, age-old cycles of catastrophe, and--above all--extreme violence. The screw is turned further and further, beyond what seems possible. Readers may find themselves forgetting to breathe. This is a rattling good yarn, for the strong of stomach. --David Langford --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Despite its slick formulaic structure, Morgan's SFhardboiled hybrid, the sequel to the well-received Altered Carbon, bursts with energy and intelligence. Protagonist Takeshi Kovacs is the product of a brutal future in which corporations and politicians fight for supremacy. Humanity has spread to the stars by deciphering charts left behind by the long-extinct Martians. Since people haven't discovered how the Martians surpassed the speed of light, however, they usually travel through space by broadcasting their digitalized personalities from one planet to another and having them installed in new bodies, a technique that gives virtual immortality to the most unscrupulous individuals. One such is Kovacs, a young sociopath whom the interstellar government transformed into a super warrior before he went freelance. Kovacs resembles a smarter and deadlier Mike Hammer; part of the pleasure is watching him not only use his skills and conditioning but also struggle past his limitations to develop empathy for other humans. The few people Kovacs gets close to are the team that accompanies him on an expedition to claim the ultimate Martian relica functioning FTL starship. Morgan is good at presenting Kovacs's mastery of high-tech weapons and other gadgets, as well as his reactions to disturbing alien artifacts. The mystery aspect of the story is also well handled, always hovering in the background of the violent action as Kovacs gathers clues. It all adds up to a superior, satisfying cyberpunk noir adventure.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
This is the same world we were introduced to in Altered Carbon, further fleshed out and featuring the same but freshly sleeved hero, Takeshi Kovacs. Whereas Altered Carbon was a detective story driven by individuals, Broken Angels is a kind of treasure hunt, where personalities are secondary to the vast corporate and other forces that direct them. The noir is gone, but the darkness remains in this more traditional and militaristic sci-fi story.
The characters, though secondary, are fully three-dimensional with consistent behaviour. When bodies are so easily replaced, identity by personality is very important, and Morgan is a master at this. Takeshi Kovacs remains complex, a product of his slum-ridden childhood, his special-ops training, and bio-engineering, including a wolf gene splice.
The language and the violence are still pretty hard-boiled.
But. The punctuation. Was driving me. Nuts. Periods are intended to mark the end of a full sentence or, at the very least, a complete thought. Here, they are used to mark. Both unnatural. And natural pauses. Dashes and ellipses are better suited to this purpose - showing... how we... slow down to... collect our thoughts, or when our - speech - is - externally - interrupted. Fire that copyeditor.
The broken angels of the title are the vanished Martian civilization. I hope the archeologists of Richard Morgan's world will continue to pick away at their remains and piece together their culture in the promised third Kovacs novel, Woken Furies.
Most recent customer reviews
This sequel to Altered Carbon reads more agreeably, but is still too dependent upon the deployment of action and [love] scenes simply for the sake of it. Read morePublished on Nov. 3 2003 by S Smyth