Market Forces (GOLLANCZ S.F.) Hardcover – 4 Mar 2004
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With his third novel Market Forces, Richard Morgan moves from the far-future SF violence of Altered Carbon and Broken Angels to almost equally extreme corporate violence in the mid-21st century. The hero, or antihero, Chris Faulkner is a rising executive in a Britain where the gap between suits and the underclass is huger than ever. Both promotion and competitive tendering in the cut-throat world of Conflict Investment (arms dealing) are settled by duels to the death: "Road-raging is here to stay."
The action happens in the nearly derelict arena of our motorway system--an executive playground--since the lower orders can no longer afford petrol. Individual drivers or teams manoeuvre to run the opposition permanently off the road in a Mad Max frenzy, no mercy asked or given. At first, Faulkner has a black mark for taking a defeated opponent to hospital instead of finishing the kill. He won't make that mistake again. After all, the latest management status symbol is the exclusive Nemesis-10 handgun.
International business decisions are tough ("Regime change is our worst-case scenario"), and there's no longer any safe distance between boardroom decisions and blood on the streets. As a big deal with revolutionary South American factions goes badly wrong, both careers and lives are on the line. This deadly game still has some rules of conduct, but getting to the top means pushing the envelope. Faulkner pushes hard enough to make you wince.
With terminal stress on his marriage, his battered conscience, and his few friendships, our man seems doomed to become either a monster or a mutilated corpse. Company backstabbing intensifies; the stakes are higher with each new challenge. One chancy way out of the rat race is offered, but maybe it's possible to get addicted to living on the edge?
An ultra-black, ultra-violent and intensely depressing vision of 2049's amoral Masters of the World. Compulsive reading for the un-squeamish; you can almost hear Michael Moore saying "I told you so". --David Langford
His writing and dialogue are still as sharp as flick-knives... this is a real fast-forward thriller from a major talent. (John Jarrold SFX)
It's a bleak, violent portrait of a world which is only a few heartbeats and regime changes from our own. Imagine Michael Moore, George Orwell and Philip K Dick collaborating on a novel and you're halfway to realising what a mind-blowing book this is. (George Walkley Ink Magazine)
Morgan's depictions of road battles are truly stunning -- I challenge you to fold the page and put the book down in the middle of one -- you simply can't do it.
Another "Certificate 18" killer read that you'd be a fool to miss! (Stuart Carter Infinity Plus)
This near future thriller starts with a bang and immediately we know that we are once more in the company of the UK¿s freshest and hardest hitting of the new wave genre writers.
Morgan¿s writing is as explosive and energized as one could hope for. This is an accessible and intensely exciting work.
By far the sharpest book I¿ve read in the last year, Market Forces is highly recommended. (John Berlyne SFRevu) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
This book, I feel , is largely underrated because of its Chomsky-ish overtones, and people tend to get bogged down in politics. That is why I'm not going to go through that here. Instead, I found the real message of this book to be about relationships.
Morgan has a style rarely seen that details relationships very subtly, and doesn't get too involved. All the same I found myself caring more and more about what happened to the other characters in the book rather than the anti-hero Chris Faulkner. His wife, while caring and worrying, dealt nobly and realistically with the hate coming from Chris. I could also feel an affinity for Mike Bryant, Chris's immediate superior and friend, even though a cold killer.
Anyway, for my tuppence worth, I liked this book. It was dark, depressing, and in a Global Corporation/Republican regime, it was scarily possible (apart from the car duels).
As oil prices rise and work is the new religion, money is becoming the new god. I'm not religious. I'm just worried. As we spend more time away from our loved ones, into the arms of our jobs, who do we love?
I scared that all we may be left with is money and hand-wringing from the ones who care.
As with Morgan's other works, it contains dark humour, some well-depicted scenes of ultra-violence, and a wealth of ideas about the direction of future society. It also has something to say about business ethics; the unconverted could find this objectionable and the converted could find it unnecessary, but take it as a novelised version of Naomi Klein's No Logo and you should be just fine.
Richard Morgan quite clearly takes several ideas from William Gibson and runs with them - in this case mostly from Count Zero, one of the very best Gibson novels. (Identifying these is left as an exercise for the reader.) Morgan writes with the same outstanding clarity and precision and that is itself, to this reviewer, more than enough to make him truly Gibson's heir.
Possibly the whole book was sparked off by the geekly use of the expression 'road warrior' meaning a laptop-equipped corporate executive.
Some other potential inspirations:
Stand on Zanzibar (1969) by John Brunner
Gladiator-At-Law (1955) by Frederik Pohl and CM Kornbluth
Mindstar Rising (1993) by Peter Hamilton
Snow Crash (1992) by Neil Stephenson
As usual Morgan's writing and characterisation is gritty and in-your-face. Our (anti-) hero elicits limited sympathy from the reader as he ruthlessly and sefishly battles up the corporate ladder. British society has virtually collapsed into a semi-anarchic state where a corporate elite pretty much writes its own rules. Competion in business is literally cut-throat with 'road raging' being the preferred method of negotiation: to the survivors the spoils.
This isn't an intellectually challenging book but I found it emotionally satisfying at a number of levels. I think most fans of the cyber-punk genre will find it so too.
In Market Forces, Morgan portrays Chris, the poor kid made good in an amoral future where corporations make their own international law (not the far future, obviously). Chris climbs the greasy pole in the lucrative field of Conflict Investment, where firms fan the fires of low-intensity wars, sell arms to both sides, topple rulers, corrupt revolutions, etc,... well, imagine the CIA run by that well-known purveyor of beefburgers and fries that's top of everyone's list of ethical companies. Advancement, a higher salary, and ever more insulation from the vicious slums of the have-nots depend on boardroom backstabbing and road duels to the death - corporate gladiatorial contests in armoured BMWs and SAABs on the M25!
It sounds daft and it is. What might have been an amusing idea for a satirical short story wears pretty thin over the course of a whole novel. The book is padded out with tedious moral descent of the hero, Chris, though he never for one moment gives the impression he will do anything other than embrace the values he professes to despise. Author Morgan name checks anti-globalisation gurus like Noam Chomsky in a bibliography at the end of the book. You can't help thinking that 'Chris' is Morgan's stricken conscience, having swapped a career in education for a $1 million film rights deal for Altered Carbon.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was ordered for a friend with no internet access, so I cant comment.Published 10 months ago by Bronagh
No, it's not Richard Morgan's best. But that's a pretty high bar. As always, there are some very interesting ideas. I enjoyed it.Published 15 months ago by John Andrews
After reading his first books (Altered carbon et al ) I was really looking forward to reading this. Wish I had not bothered; less of a work of fiction and more of a rant, I think... Read morePublished 17 months ago by P G Bulpin
While packed with slightly more graphic violence and multi-orgasmic sex than my usual reading matter, this book is absolutely gripping, both in its delineation of the collapse of... Read morePublished 19 months ago by T. W. P. Esq
Great concept for a novel. Scarily echoing certain areas of today's life. As with all of Richard Morgans Novels - ExcellentPublished 22 months ago by Hoss
I loved the dog eat dog corporate machinations in this book and the nihilistic vision of the near future. Read morePublished on 19 Feb. 2014 by G H Sargeant
Another interesting vision by Morgan. A violent drama in the future. Fast read and rather brutal...Anyway, readers of the "Altered Carbon" trilogy wont be dissapointed.Published on 20 Jun. 2013 by Whiskeyjack
Absolutely briliantly modern take on the cyberpunk genre, with action, betrayal and love interest aplenty.
Read it and see why.
Morgan wrote it in the 90ies - but one could imagine this being the outcome of the economic collapse and dominoe-effects we experience today - the man was lucky or a visionary -... Read morePublished on 9 April 2013 by M. Woischneck