Nothing like its predecessor, story-wise, this follow-up on Takeshi Kovacs is nonetheless a brutal adrenaline-fueled ride from start to finish and a worthy successor to Altered Carbon.
Where Altered Carbon was a noir detective/mystery romp set on Earth in the far future, with a lot of local intrigue and a personal vendetta mixed in for good fun, Broken Angels throws us smack in the middle of an orange/blue world, torn apart by civil war, despots and corporate greed. In the midst of all this, we see Kovacs essentially deserting to chase an objective more interesting than getting torn to shreds again and again by incompetent orders from incompetent commanders.
I really love how, throughout the entire story, there’s this ongoing, underlying (and sometimes front and center) critique on corporations driving wars and how profit changes people, mixed in with a little critique on religion here and there and some great sex scenes to top it off. All this makes for an interesting political and philosophical question.
There’s some great little tidbits in here, like this one, on self-righteous despots:
“Kemp is a crusader,” he said finally. “He has surrounded himself with others like him. And crusaders do not generally see sense until they are nailed to it. The Kempists will have to be defeated, bloodily and resoundingly, before they can be brought to the negotiating table.”
or this tidbit, on religion:
The difference between virtuality and life is very simple. In a construct you know everything is being run by an all-powerful machine. Reality doesn’t offer this assurance, so it’s very easy to develop the mistaken impression that you’re in control.
There’s also this funny exposé:
Bradbury, 2089 precolonial reckoning. The founder-heroes of human antiquity are exposed for the pig-ignorant mall bullies they probably always were, as decoding of the first Martian datasystems brings in evidence of a starfaring culture at least as old as the whole human race. The millennial knowledge out of Egypt and China starts to look like a ten-year-old child’s bedroom datastack. The wisdom of the ages shredded at a stroke into the pipe-cooked musings of a bunch of canal-dive barflies. Lao-tzu, Confucius, Jesus Christ, Muhammad—what did these guys know? Parochial locals, never even been off the planet. Where were they when the Martians were crossing interstellar space?
Of course—a sour grin out of one corner of Wardani’s mouth—established religion lashed back. The usual strategies. Incorporate the Martians into the scheme of things, scour the scriptures or make up some new ones, reinterpret. Failing that, lacking the gray matter for that much effort, just deny the whole thing as the work of evil forces and firebomb anyone who says otherwise. That ought to work.
That shit had me laughing a loud for 5 straight minutes.
Make no mistake, all the philosophical pandering aside, this is just as brutal as Altered Carbon was, if not more so. Takeshi still has a tendency to fuck everything that’s female and comes a little too close (okay, granted, there are only 2 sex scenes, but both of them took the better part of 30 minutes on the audiobook, a whole bloody chapter every time!), just like he manages to constantly get into situations that only get unfucked when he starts fucking others up (In summary, there’s a lot of ‘fucking’ going around).
Takeshi is still as cynical, and likeable as ever, as he relentlessly drives the narrative with his dogged style, short temper and quick trigger finger. Luckily we are again treated to a cast of bad-ass motherfuckers to round the assortment out.
All of whom manage to make an impression, even if most of them get killed in increasingly spectacular fashions. Memorable AF and ensuring that there’s never a dull moment. I particularly liked Hand as a character, because he was very consistent. A jackass / asshole / dickhead, yes, but a very consistent one.
Universe building is quite solid, with some background on the recent history of mankind, how they managed to find and colonize multiple habitable planets in such short order and a LOT of background on the Martians, that came before us. I loved this aspect and hope that it continues in Woken Furies.
Morgans writing is solid, so solid in fact, that you hardly notice it, while still being eloquent, elegant (or harsh when needed). Whenever I was reading, I felt immersed in the world, and I had to actually force myself to pay attention to the writing to see how fluently it moves.
There’s some really nice gems in here, stuff you might read over, but which fulfills its function incredibly well and gets the message across much better than I’m at reviewing.
This one, e.g stood out to me because of it’s brutal honesty and simplicity while still managing to carry a ton of meaning:
The air was stiff with the uncomprehending silence that serves males as a function of grief.
This book is funny as hell, savage andbrutal, insightful and philosophical and all of those traits are executed very well to make a nice blend of cyberpunk dark sci-fi. 5 easy stars.