Customer Review

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They come to me with >Progress Reports< but all I see is change and bodies burnt, 30 Aug 2006
This review is from: Woken Furies (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)
Richard Morgan's Takeshi Kovacs novels are a visceral blend of William Gibson and Iain M Banks, with a few extra vats of gore slopped in for good measure. Sometimes it seems to border on horror.

The universe that Morgan has created is huge, brutal, seemingly uncaring, but heartwrenchingly and depressingly familier. Despite the alien worlds, hypertechnology and superweapons, underneath it all this is still a very human story, where mankind has stretched itself out to the stars, yet has taken the very same problems with it, and amplified and reciprocated such problems across hundreds of worlds. The concept that the human race 'does not belong in the stars' is echoed many times throughout the series.

The latest (and hopefully, not final) book in the series sees Tak return to his homeworld - Harlan's world - which is still scarred by it's revolutionary past. Tak is seemingly drifting in an ever widening sea of psychosis, but as the book progresses, it reveals more and more of the reasons for Kovaks' behaviour, which are often a lot deeper and more complex than is initially apparant.

I'll cut to the chase and say why this book is good.

Firstly, the depth and care that has gone into the design and rendering of the deep technological, political and social tangle that is Harlan's World. More than any of the worlds in the Kovacs series, it is by far the most detailed, most lifelike, and most interesting. From the Mimint-infested shores of New Hokkaido, to the Weed Expanse and the surfer settlements of Sourcetown. From the heaving, overcrowded port-metropolis of Millstown to the endless seas and their terrible, unpredictable storm systems. And then theres socio-political tangle as well, the aristocratic First Families and the Harlans, Quellists, New Revelationists (kind of like a futuristic hardline Islam), yakuza, pirates, small time criminals and the downright poverty stricken. They're all mixed up together across the various continents, seas and environments. Surrounded by long-dead Martian architecture, and above it all, the orbital Martial weapons platforms, which are far from dead.

Secondly, Kovacs has to be one of the most interesting characters ever created in sci-fi. On the surface, he seems to be psychotic and contraditory, but once you get inside his head, you realise he has a very intelligent and reasoned world view. In fact, the only people that die by his hand are people who are either a direct threat to Kovacs, or (in the case of the Beards) people who have hurt or damaged him in some way. The harsh, unforgiving and captialist conditions of the Protectorate further blur the lines of the 'is Kovacs a psycho?' discussion, because the same discussion could equally be had about most of the characters in the book. What I like about this book is that here, Morgan finally starts to address these questions directly, using (amongst other things) the double sleeving plot device. Kovacs is, quite simply, a classic anti-hero. The difference is he is only flawed by our standards. By the standards of this future dystopia, his head is almost screwed on straight.

This is definitely a book I will have to read again - I get the impression that there is so much that I have missed first time round. It reads somewhat like the first book - detective style, with clues to each impending plot twist laced throughout the text. In some ways, too much happens in such a small number of pages, but it certainly leaves you feeling a bit breathless and sits you right on the edge of your seat.
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