Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Broken Angels

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the return-under-warranty dept.

Sci-Fi 104

Motor writes "Broken Angels is the second novel by Richard Morgan, and a follow up to 'Altered Carbon' (see a Slashdot review here) with the same protagonist, Takeshi Kovacs. Although 'Broken Angels' works as a standalone novel, it does draw on the background established in the first book: the Envoy Corps; the Protectorate; the Martians, and most significantly the concept of 'sleeves.'" Read on below for the rest of Motor's review to see if this book might be your kind of Sci-Fi.

First, a little background on the universe of Broken Angel. A few hundred years before the events in Altered Carbon, humanity discovers the technological remains of a space-faring species on Mars -- and naturally nicknames them Martians, even though it is clear Mars is not their home planet, just a colony. After decoding some of their technology and information, humanity begins moving out to the various worlds detailed in the Martian records.

The other big technological breakthrough is the ability to record a person's mind via a cortical stack implanted in the spine. This effectively abolishes death through injury or disease, as the stack can be recovered and the data stored -- and even downloaded into a new body, or 'sleeve.' It also makes Real Death, or the destruction of someone's cortical stack, a much more serious crime than mere organic damage.

Far from creating a technological utopia of plenty for everyone this tech-breakthrough, diaspora and near-freedom from death, leads to more revolutions, more killing, and more varied inventive ways of brutalising each other. New bodies, or sleeves, cost money and most people are unable to afford them, and are consequently kept "on stack." Raw, unfettered captialism is the way. Criminal behaviour gets you stacked for a number of years, and your body handed over to someone else. It also opens the way to such charming practises as virtual torture, with no hope of escape or death.

Takeshi Kovacs, born on the Harlan's World colony, is a former member of the Envoy Corps. A military branch that 'conditions' its members, effectively rewriting their personalities to make them better soldiers. The Envoy Corps are the most feared soliders of the Protectorate. The conditioning gives them iron emotional control, a lack of empathy, extra combat awareness, and skill at psychologically manipulating others. They also possess the ability to deal with being quickly and frequently re-sleeved when deployed into a combat situation via needlecast (a kind of hyperspace communication system) -- something that can, apparently, be quite traumatic for normal people.

Altered Carbon covered (in flashback) some of Kovacs' background story, and the reasons for his disillusionment and desertion from the Envoys; Broken Angels continues his story. After the events in Altered Carbon, Kovacs finds himself signed up to fight in a mercenary unit -- known as 'The Wedge' -- on the colony world of Sanction IV. Former Envoys are highly prized by commanders, and despite his distaste of command and responsibility, it pays the bills.

After being injured in a battle, Kovacs is approached by another soldier to get involved with the unofficial find of a Martian artifact ... one of the most extraordinary and potentially lucrative yet found. It's a race to claim ownership, against other ruthless corporations, betrayal, slow sleeve death due to radiation sickness (the Mandrake corporation engineers the nuking of a nearby city, just to clear out the area), and killer nanotechnology.

Like Altered Carbon, Broken Angels is a brutal read in parts. It doesn't flinch from the horrific things people do to each other, and is spectacularly inventive in thinking up ever more horrendous methods of punishment and interrogation. It throws in voodoo, 'soul markets' where dead soliders' stacks are sold, and an anatomiser -- a machine designed for a horrible ritual punishment in The Wedge.

While I enjoyed Altered Carbon, I thought it almost too much of a teenage-boy fantasy novel: An almost unstoppable bad-ass who can deal with anything, but is basically a good guy at heart; the almost fetishistic descriptions of weapons and gleefully detailed battles and brawls. It's all good stuff; well written and inventive, but a bit limited (except for the Jimmy de Soto hallucinations, which I thought were excellent). It was saved by its imaginative technology, hard SF speculation and clever detective story twists. Broken Angels seems a bit more mature. There is still the gleeful descriptions of battles, but the surrounding characters seem more fleshed out. 'Broken Angels' is no character-driven, emotionally deep masterpiece -- but it is a page-turner which neatly combines fast-paced action, imaginative technology and plot twists.

A quick note for any British readers who remember when the Conservatives (the traditional party of the Right) were in power: In the novel, the current whiney political officer of Kovacs' Wedge unit is called Lamont (he's been deliberately addicted to wire to keep him quiet), and the previous one was Portillo (he was regularly beaten, also to keep him quiet). It's a safe bet that Morgan is not a card-carrying member of the Conservative Party.


You can purchase Broken Angels from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews. To see your own review here, carefully read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Nothing for you to see here. Please move along. (0)

GillBates0 (664202) | more than 10 years ago | (#9903564)

I'll take the hint

Seriously, that's what it said before the link was fixed.

Writing that must have been hard (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9903566)

No doubt you're thirsty after all that hard work. Why don't you have a nice refreshing lemonade? [big-cocks-porn.net]

Sounds Like... (2, Interesting)

Hank Reardon (534417) | more than 10 years ago | (#9903600)

The whole "cortical stack" thing sounds like the Endimion portion of Dan Simmons' "Hyperion/Endimion" cycle of books. Although, from the sounds of it, this doesn't go off on the same religious bent.

Does anybody who's read Simmons' stuff and the reviews book care to comment? If you liked Hyperion and liked the reviewed books as well, was it because of similarities?

Re:Sounds Like... (4, Informative)

Draconix (653959) | more than 10 years ago | (#9903748)

Er, not really. It's more like the system in Greg Bear's "Eon" if anything. Storing one's mind for immortality is not a new concept in SF.

Re:Sounds Like... (1)

cephyn (461066) | more than 10 years ago | (#9903749)

You know, I didn't really pick up on it being a similarity. They're handled in such drastically different ways I didn't feel like it was ripping from Simmons at all.

Re:Sounds Like... (1)

Hank Reardon (534417) | more than 10 years ago | (#9904904)

I didn't mean to imply a "rip". More like a story with some similar themes.

From what everybody's saying, the only similarity is humans who can "live" a really long time; one via actual resurrection, the other via memory download.

It seems like most people liked the book, so I'll have to go and pick up a copy.

Re:Sounds Like... (2, Interesting)

BerntB (584621) | more than 10 years ago | (#9903770)

Does anybody who's read Simmons' stuff and the reviews book care to comment?
Very different.

It's similar to, but not really a Carbon copy of, "Voice of the Whirlwind" by Walter Jon Williams.

Re:Sounds Like... (5, Interesting)

MongooseCN (139203) | more than 10 years ago | (#9903848)

I have read both the Hyperion series and Richard Morgan's books. Both those series of books are excellent. The writing in both has a rough, vicious edge to it, although Richard Morgan's is much more extreme and is present consistantly throughout the book. I also like how lots of little details and seemingly meaningless things get pulled together at the end of both series to explain the ending.

That's about all there is for similarities though. I consider RM's writing to be sci-fi noir, a style I really like and one that very few authors have managed to do well.

Be sure to goto Richard Morgan's website [richardkmorgan.co.uk] and send him an email. He responded quickly to mine and must read all his fan mail.

Re:Sounds Like... (1)

Hank Reardon (534417) | more than 10 years ago | (#9904876)

I also like how lots of little details and seemingly meaningless things get pulled together at the end of both series to explain the ending.

Cool. That's one of the things I liked most about the Hyperion series. Although, having to read through the second book to appreciate the first was a bit of a drag.

Re:Sounds Like... (3, Informative)

halowolf (692775) | more than 10 years ago | (#9905295)

Having read all the other Richard Morgan books, may I recommend that if you intend reading "Broken Angels" that you first pick up "Altered Carbon" (another Takeshi Kovacs novel set about 30 years [I think] before Broken Angels) and read that first.

While its not an absolute necessity to enjoy Broken Angels, I think that it will add just that little bit extra to enjoying it. There are some small references in BA to events in Altered Carbon and you will more quickly understand why things are they way they are in BA.

That said Altered Carbon and Broken Angels are some of the best reads I've had recently and I have no trouble recommending both of them without hesitation. Richard Morgans third novel, just released, Market Forces was quite a bit of a turn from what he wrote before (in some senses that is) but I enjoyed it. Not as much as as AC and BA but still a good read. I won't say much more because I don't want to spoil it.

Re:Sounds Like... (1)

Hank Reardon (534417) | more than 10 years ago | (#9905549)

Having read all the other Richard Morgan books, may I recommend that if you intend reading "Broken Angels" that you first pick up "Altered Carbon" (another Takeshi Kovacs novel set about 30 years [I think] before Broken Angels) and read that first.

Good to know. That's the way I normally work with books in a loose series about the central character.

I find it kind of annoying to read a book and miss all of the references to similar situations in prior books.

Thanks for the info; I'm hitting Borders tonight to pick them up!

Re:Sounds Like... (1)

Moofie (22272) | more than 10 years ago | (#9903859)

Could somebody please explain why Hyperion was so well-liked? I feel like I missed something.

"Here's a dozen disjointed, over-long stories, tied together by an ambiguous and too-short ending. Thanks for your time."

I just really didn't get it...

Re:Sounds Like... (2, Insightful)

cephyn (461066) | more than 10 years ago | (#9903939)

If you had gotten it, you would have liked it. Endings like that happen when there are what sequels are made of! Second, what he did with Hyperion was create a SciFi Canterbury Tales, and he did it really well. If you don't get Canterbury Tales and why its good, you definitely won't get Hyperion. Sometimes a greater story or a greater point can be woven with a set of of small, seemingly disjoint stories than one long contiguous novel. For classic examples, see Canterbury Tales and The Decameron.

Re:Sounds Like... (1)

Moofie (22272) | more than 10 years ago | (#9904010)

OK, that's cool. I read Canterbury Tales and hated that too.

Fair enough. : )

Re:Sounds Like... (3, Insightful)

Hank Reardon (534417) | more than 10 years ago | (#9904839)

After reading Hyperion, I had a similar impression. I liked the writing, but felt that the ending was a bit rushed for my taste. It was good reading, but nothing spectacular, I thought. I had bought all four books (Hyperion, Fall of Hyperion, Endimion, and Rise of Endimion), so I decided to continue and read the rest of the series.

I'm glad I did.

Hyperion, to me, seems to be more along the lines of The Real Story by Stephen R. Donaldson; it's kind of a set up for the entire cycle of books, rather than a stand-alone novel. While it does stand on its own, it does so more as a collection of similarly themed stories like I Robot.

The Fall of Hyperion finishes up the entire Hyperion tale and begins to explain a little of the Shrike mythology. As much as it wraps the Hyperion story up, it leaves tons of questions about what, exactly, is going on. Not so much that you're dissatisfied as a reader, but enough to make you wanting just a bit more.

Enter Endimion and Rise of Endimion, set 247 years after The Fall of Hyperion. These stories, in concert, wrap up every single loose end left over from Hyperion and leaves only one unanswered question in the last paragraph.

Of all the Sci-Fi I've read, I've never read a story that used time travel so effectively.

Re:Sounds Like... (1)

phantom_programmer (700386) | more than 10 years ago | (#9904882)

You have to finish the story. "Hyperion" was too long to fit into one volume, so it was finished up in "The Fall of Hyperion". Simmons makes mention of this at the end of the two-volume sequel, "Endymion" and "The Rise of Endymion".

Re:Sounds Like... (2, Informative)

Zocalo (252965) | more than 10 years ago | (#9904096)

Although, from the sounds of it, this doesn't go off on the same religious bent.

Well, actually, both books do touch on this. There is a religion (can't remember the name - I read the books over a year ago) that believes that the process of downloading to a cortical stack leaves the soul behind and it is therefore something to be avoided. I thought it was more like the Jehovah's Witness prohibition against receiving blood transfusions than Catholism's view of contraception though.

Re:Sounds Like... (1)

Hank Reardon (534417) | more than 10 years ago | (#9904856)

Good to know. I tend to like stories that get into a bit of religion, pointing out the discrepancies between theological and actual actions.

Thanks for the info.

Re:Sounds Like... (4, Funny)

halowolf (692775) | more than 10 years ago | (#9905480)

There is a religion (can't remember the name - I read the books over a year ago) that believes that the process of downloading to a cortical stack leaves the soul behind and it is therefore something to be avoided.

Oh don't worry I think I remember!

Ok, flame retardent suit? check. Comments taken out of context nullifer? check. Atheist mode still activated? check.

In Altered Carbon the obscure religion opposed to the cortical stacks was: The Catholic church, or what actually remained of it at the time.

Since everyone has a stack in this future scenario, those that were Catholic opposed themselves being placed into another sleeve (aka body) for what was effectivly being brought back to life, if their stack wasn't destroyed aka real death (RD). As apposed to those with sleeve insurance policies, who didn't mind getting another chance.

Re:Sounds Like... (1)

farble1670 (803356) | more than 10 years ago | (#9904872)

i've read "altered carbon" as well as the hyperion series. yes, you nailed it same concept. altered carbon does brush on the religious implications. for example, catholics are marked as such so they will not be re-sleeved, and instead experience "real death". but yes, the religion angle is just a side issue. it should be noted that the concept of downloadable brains is applied to many SF novels. for example, check out peter f. hamilton's "reality dysfunction" series.

Re:Sounds Like... (1)

Hank Reardon (534417) | more than 10 years ago | (#9904921)

for example, check out peter f. hamilton's "reality dysfunction" series.

I've read this one almost as many times as Ender's Game. :)

I think I drew the correlation to Hyperion because I finished reading the series a couple of days ago. It's been at least a month since I've read the Reality Dysfunction series.

Man, this thread went wild! I was hoping for some more reading material, but the responses have supplied far more than I ever though I'd get.

Re:Sounds Like... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9905250)

This reminds me of the reincarnation in Zelazny's Lord of Light. Which is a damn fine book, although the big Z never could write a decent ending...

Re:Sounds Like... (1)

Jack9 (11421) | more than 10 years ago | (#9906899)

I'm sorry I read the entire Hyperion quadrilogy and I have no idea why anyone thinks there's anything like the "cortical stack" mentioned by this reviewer (or the parent) contained within it. Dan Simmons firmly attaches the soul to the living body and any separation from that (Kassad's implied personality imprinting) a mere construct. The "Keats" persona is also a construct as is reaffirmed multiple times during the novel from differing individuals and perspectives.

In Related News (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9903610)

Do you think Gollancz is going to take issue with the cybersquatter owners of brokenangels.com [brokenangels.com] ?

Re:In Related News (1)

nizo (81281) | more than 10 years ago | (#9903705)

Is brokenangelsbook.com taken? (Sorry my whois is broken, too lazy to look). Personally I find it weird that every book/movie/etc has a website, it seems like a central author's website would be more appropriate IMHO.

My god... (1)

wpiman (739077) | more than 10 years ago | (#9903630)

It is a slow news day. When I see crap like this get posted- my slashdot rejections sting twice as much.

Re:My god... (1)

LordBodak (561365) | more than 10 years ago | (#9905505)

Not sure why this is crap. The first book was reviewed here last year, so the sequel is certainly newsworthy. I enjoyed the first one but did not know there was a sequel... isn't that the point of a news site?

Those Linux d00dz play hardball! (2, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 10 years ago | (#9903642)

> It's a race to claim ownership, against other ruthless corporations, betrayal, slow sleeve death due to radiation sickness (the Mandrake corporation engineers the nuking of a nearby city, just to clear out the area),

Well, that's one surefire way of putting this Darl McBride / SCOX scam to rest permanently. Someone explain to me where the problem is?

I liked Altered Carbon (2, Interesting)

Mantorp (142371) | more than 10 years ago | (#9903643)

Not award winning, but it moved along at a nice pace and was generally entertaining.

Hmmmm (1)

Billobob (532161) | more than 10 years ago | (#9903678)

I sure hope it has nothing to do with the TV Series... [touched.com]

It was a good story but.... (3, Interesting)

cephyn (461066) | more than 10 years ago | (#9903687)

It was a good novel, very Indiana Jones-like. Unfortunately, Morgan got into the habit of putting periods in odd places. His characters. Started talking. Like this.

Bugged me.

Other than that, a fun novel.

Re:It was a good story but.... (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 10 years ago | (#9903773)

So, I'll bet, you don't, like, old Star, Trek, episodes and, movies, either?

Re:It was a good story but.... (1)

cephyn (461066) | more than 10 years ago | (#9903787)

Hehe that was only ONE character. Three or four of them do it in the novel. Which is. A bit. Ridiculous.

Re:It was a good story but.... (1)

linzeal (197905) | more than 10 years ago | (#9903835)

He needs a better editor or learn styles [amazon.com] that are acceptable in english. Not everyone can be ee cummings or we would not be able to communicate to each other.

Re:It was a good story but.... (1)

cephyn (461066) | more than 10 years ago | (#9903866)

I think it was an editing issue. I'd have to check, but maybe he had a different editor for BA than on AC. In Altered Carbon he didn't do it at all.

Re:It was a good story but.... (2, Funny)

hellfire (86129) | more than 10 years ago | (#9903910)

Unfortunately, Morgan got into the habit of putting periods in odd places. His characters. Started talking. Like this.

Oh. My god. Does he have. A Kirk Fetish? Please tell. Me I must. Know!

Re:It was a good story but.... (1)

WoodenRobot (726910) | more than 10 years ago | (#9904230)

Or. God. Forbid. A Tony. Blair. Fetish.

Re:It was a good story but.... (1)

kavin (133588) | more than 10 years ago | (#9904024)

...not at good as the original (imho). it put me off trying his next book "market forces". the original (altered carbon) was unadulterated -- perhaps so because it was his first novel.

my distant opinion is that the movie rights he sold (for usd 1m) may have effected his edge.

- p

Re:It was a good story but.... (1)

sloanster (213766) | more than 10 years ago | (#9904079)

It was certainly not standard english, but I thought. it. was. clever.

blatant thread-jacking,but (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 10 years ago | (#9904279)

Just a quickie - please be merciful!

Please can all you sci-fi fans please suggest your favourite 3 books of that genre. With a tilt towards the soft of book you think someone who likes fiction and science but has read only a little sci-fi. I've heard about 'hard sci-fi' and it sounds interesting. I don't mind if it's pretty weird.

Re:blatant thread-jacking,but (1)

cephyn (461066) | more than 10 years ago | (#9904340)

Well Richard K Morgan's two books discussed here are more Cyberpunk than SciFi. That said, top three books?

A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky, by Vernor Vinge. I'd recommend the second over the first for you. It's great sci-fi, great characters, and a little weird but fascinating.

Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson. Amazing.

I'll go a little ways back here and recommend The Time Machine or War of the Worlds, HG Wells. Fantastic must-read for any real SF fan.

Re:blatant thread-jacking,but (2, Interesting)

Threni (635302) | more than 10 years ago | (#9904469)

> A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky, by Vernor Vinge.

I'll check them out on Amazon shortly.

>Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson. Amazing.

Huh - I typed, then deleted, a comment about that being pretty much the only current sci-fi book I'd read, and I thought that it was pretty good but a touch overrated by people online, to be honest. A slight anti-climax. I didn't like all that religious stuff, but I did like the atmosphere he managed to create - like a stylised cartoon (The Powerpuff Girls, Ren and Stimpy).

About 10 years ago I read and diskliked a couple of Gibson books (Neuromancer and Count Zero, I think). I thought the Watchmen was good, althought that's not really a novel, which is sort of what I meant.

Re:blatant thread-jacking,but (3, Interesting)

cephyn (461066) | more than 10 years ago | (#9904501)

Early Gibson is tough to read. Give him another shot with Pattern Recognition, and if you like it, Idoru. His writing style has come a long way.

I don't normally pimp my site in a comment, but you might want to bookmark my new review site (as seen in my sig) so that you can find more sci-fi books. The initial group I have is very sci-fi friendly. ;) It's not live yet, but it will be very soon (less than a week) and if you like what you see, feel free to join.

Re:blatant thread-jacking,but (1)

angst_ridden_hipster (23104) | more than 10 years ago | (#9905083)

And if you *do* like Gibson, track down some Jack Womack.

Start with Ambient. It's hard to read, since it's in futurespeak, but kind of a disturbing messed-up cyberpunk dystopian adventure.

Imagine Burgess' A Clockwork Orange crossed with Gibson's Neuromancer, some assorted Raymond Chandler, and perhaps a quick Doom III session, and you'll end up in something not unlike Ambient. Well, you may need to take some methamphetamines and huff some spraypaint in a circus sideshow first, but you'll get there eventually.

Re:blatant thread-jacking,but (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 10 years ago | (#9919522)

Thanks for the help. (I went to the site and it didn't look ready but I'll check it out next week.)

Re:blatant thread-jacking,but (0, Troll)

gilroy (155262) | more than 10 years ago | (#9905842)

Hmmm. I'd go with any of

A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge

The Uplift War series by David Brin

The Gap Into series by Stephen R. Donaldson

Snow Crash or The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson

OK, that's not three. Sorry.

Takeshi Kovacs (1)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | more than 10 years ago | (#9903692)

Any relation to Walter Kovacs [angelfire.com] ?

Re:Takeshi Kovacs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9907930)

Open the phone book in hungary and you will find thousands of kovacs. It would mean smith in english.

Re:Takeshi Kovacs (1)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | more than 10 years ago | (#9910011)

Right. How many protagonists in English language fiction are named Kovacs?

Ever since Altered Carbon (1)

Shrique (457689) | more than 10 years ago | (#9903694)

Ever since Altered Carbon I've been REALLLY wanting this guy to write more books. My brother got me a first edition signed copy of Angels from the UK a while back. It was a departure from Altered but it also showed that this character and the world he lives in has many excellent posibilities. I'm hooked.

I just want him to write more.

Re:Ever since Altered Carbon (1)

EdipisReks (770738) | more than 10 years ago | (#9903753)

i agree. wile Altered Carbon was no Neuromancer, it was very interesting once you got into it. i'm a big Raymond Chandler fan, as well as a sci-fi fan, and i found the merging of both forms to be a lot of fun.

Market Forces - New Richard Morgan Book - UK Only (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9904467)

he has written a new book - it's out in the UK right now - it's called Market Forces and it's pretty interesting. A few weird concepts - death races - but overall a good, somewhat surprising, ending.

No Takeshi Kovacs though. He does make an oblique reference to himself re: memory stacks in the book though. See the Amazon UK website for more info.

Is this religious literature? (2, Interesting)

BerntB (584621) | more than 10 years ago | (#9903697)

It's a safe bet that Morgan is not a card-carrying member of the Conservative Party.
I really enjoyed "Altered Carbon".

So I bought "Market forces" -- and have never been so disappointed in my life.

It was like religious writing from the Bible belt with Chomsky as Jesus. Where idealism and propaganda go in not only reason and integrity go out -- but also fun and interesting literature. :-(

When you write the above aboue "Broken Angels", does it mean this book has also been seduced by the author's political opinions to write about conspiracy theories about why the present society is just a capitalist stalinism?

(No, I'm not a fanatic -- I really like most of MacLeod's books, for instance. I just have a dislike like for Believers, no matter the religion.)

Re:Is this religious literature? (2, Informative)

Motor (104119) | more than 10 years ago | (#9904840)

When you write the above aboue "Broken Angels", does it mean this book has also been seduced by the author's political opinions to write about conspiracy theories about why the present society is just a capitalist stalinism?

Disclaimer: I haven't read Market Forces. But Broken Angels isn't (or doesn't seem to me to be) thinly veiled allegory or anything like that. There are places where Morgan's views on war leak in, but there's no preaching. The reason I mentioned the Conservative party was just because I thought it funny that the miltary political officers are so despised and badly treated, and they are named after prominent (and much despised) former politicians.

Re:Is this religious literature? (1)

halowolf (692775) | more than 10 years ago | (#9906563)

Given what the political officers where there to police the thoughts and actions of the soldiers to ensure that they conformed correctly to the goals of the then ruling party and would betray them at a moments notice, I can honestly relate to how they treated him. Given the context of the many and varied ways you could be tortured and then killed (witness the device I shall not mention for those that havn't read the book) and the fact that you can be brought back from the dead to be tortured again and again, both physically and virtually, I would certainly be interested in covering my ass as well.

Besides he was assigned to the Wedge a place where disloyalty to your pack would meet with an end that would not be worth considering. It was a matter of him or them, and quite frankly if I was them I would choose him.

Now I can't remember what I originally intended to say... oh well...

Altered Carbon was more detective story than scifi (3, Interesting)

tji (74570) | more than 10 years ago | (#9903701)

I haven't read "Broken Angels", but I have read his previous novel, "Altered Carbon". It was decent, but not what I would call great scifi. It had a few scifi concepts, thrown into a basic detective plot. It felt more like a hollywood screenplay.. lots of action around a basic mystery, with scifi concepts that could quickly be explained in the story.

For a much better scifi work, with a lot of though t provoking concepts, check out "Permutation City" by Greg Egan. He has a similar concept of taking human consciousness into an electronic form. But, Egan covers it much more thoroughly.

Old News? (1)

nerdygeek (242847) | more than 10 years ago | (#9903724)

Has this just been released in the US? I remember when 'Altered Carbon' was reviewed in Slashdot, this new book was already out in the UK.

For my two penneth - Broken Angels wasn't as good as the first, but an enjoyable change none the less.

Richard Morgan (1)

PeteDotNu (689884) | more than 10 years ago | (#9903730)

Altered Carbon was a truly astounding debut novel, but I felt that Broken Angels was just the same book again. I couldn't possibly comment on which is better, as my tendency will be to favour the one which I read first, but the two books are very comparable. Michael Marshall Smith, however, is a different kettle of fish. All of his pre-2003 stuff is essential reading to anyone who likes the scent of that which they call cyberpunk to rise from the pages.

Peter F Hamilton (1)

kcm (138443) | more than 10 years ago | (#9904682)

Peter F. Hamilton's stuff is all also very very worth reading. The Night's Dawn stuff especially. Tons of great pulp reading for a bored geek.

Re:Peter F Hamilton (1)

pmc (40532) | more than 10 years ago | (#9907597)

Peter F. Hamilton's stuff is all also very very worth reading.

No, no, no, no. No. No! Never, ever, read "Misspent Youth" - it is dreadful.

The rest are good to excellent (although "The Naked God" was a bit of a poor ending to the great series).

Re:Richard Morgan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9904818)

Um.

You think Morgan has written the same book twice, and you *contrast* that with MMS? Don't get me wrong, I love my MMS, including the new ones as Michael Marshall, but MMS is the *worst* example of "same book, different protagonist". Jeamland, even when it isn't called jeamland - the same characters, even when they have different names, heck, the same hardboiled private-eye narrative in _Only Forward_ and _One Of Us_.

Not to mention the same animated kitchen-ware with bad attitude:)

And then he branched out into "thriller" rather than "sf", with _Straw Man_, and ... same thing.

Now, the short stories are a different kettle of fish, *that* I will grant you. But his novels? Uh-uh.

MMS is far guiltier of writing the same book again. He gets away with it because he's a damn good writer with genuinely inventive detailing, and because the jeamland concept can carry several books. But even the short story he wrote for the Binary series (can't remember the name) was about a Florida private eye who investigated blackmail cases, where the blackmail started with ... wierd aliens infesting your dreams!

sol.
.

only one tiny gripe (2, Insightful)

mblase (200735) | more than 10 years ago | (#9903797)

I'm partway through Altered Carbon right now, and I'm enjoying it for what it is, which is a cyberpunk-inspired thriller rather than what I consider "true" science fiction.

I found it interesting, and somehow disappointing, that the premise of this story relies on the "needlecast", which is just this author's renaming of the ansible, which is Ursule K. le Guin's/Orson Scott Card's method of transmitting data faster than light throughout the universe. With it, a digitized person can be transmitted from one colonized system to another instantaneously; without it, space travel is hardly improved.

Why is this a problem for me? I don't know, exactly. Ansibles are no more or less possible (based on known science) than digitizing the entire human mind. Maybe I just don't like my sci-fi to assume more than one impossible thing at a time.

Re:only one tiny gripe (3, Insightful)

cephyn (461066) | more than 10 years ago | (#9903832)

I'd have to disagree with you -- I see ansibles as more likely than digitizing the human mind. We already understand quantum entanglement, so we understand how spooky action at a distance could create an ansible-like comm system.

Now, digitizing the human mind, that's a hornets nest. Since we still can't really pin down what consciousness is or how it emerges, just downloading and uploading a cognitive state is pretty scary, and frankly, beyond the realm of possibility at this time.

But thats just the way I see it, IMO.

Re:only one tiny gripe (1)

Hentai (165906) | more than 10 years ago | (#9904391)

The problem is, though, quantum entanglement can't really transmit information. You can use it to multiply the amount of information transmitted by an amazing amount, but the fundamental semantic structure of the information MUST be transferred causally - that is, at lightspeed.

Re:only one tiny gripe (1)

cephyn (461066) | more than 10 years ago | (#9904417)

you sure? the way i understood it, if you have a quark spinning one way, and the entangled on the other, thats 1 bit of information a quark can hold. spin left, thats 0. spin right, 1. thats binary, and you can use that to transmit information. alter the spin on one end, and it reverses on the other.

Re:only one tiny gripe (1)

MenTaLguY (5483) | more than 10 years ago | (#9904614)

The catch is that you don't know which way they were "spinning" beforehand, until you measure them and break the entanglement. So you have to "compare notes" with the recipient on the other end to learn what was communicated (via a slower, convential channel).

Things at the quantum level really don't make intuitive sense.

Re:only one tiny gripe (1)

cephyn (461066) | more than 10 years ago | (#9904668)

but quantum encrypted stuff can be decrypted....so isnt it just one more step to make the quantum bits the information instead of the wrapper?

Re:only one tiny gripe (1)

MenTaLguY (5483) | more than 10 years ago | (#9905359)

No, and in this context quantum "encryption" is something of a misnomer.

Basically what happens is that no matter what, if you're observing the "remote" end of the entanglement, you will get apparently random gibberish that requires additional context, transferred over classical channels from the "sender", to interpret meaningfully.

Re:only one tiny gripe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9905457)

quantum encryption isn't what you think it is

It's actually a mechanism for two entities to agree on a shared secret key over a channel that's impossible to tap or tamper with. If you attempt to tap the channel or tamper with it their attempt to agree a key fails, they are alerted and they send men with guns to hunt you down.

Even if quantum mechanics represents a real improvement in understanding (as opposed to a momentary confusion that we'll laugh about in 150 years) it's certainly not any kind of recipe to exceed the speed of light, reverse the perceived order of time or provide unlimited quantities of anything (energy, matter, mathematical theorems, cute women)

Sad to say, entanglement lets you save up coincidences, and move them through space. That's about it. Like fast semi-prime factorisation this is not a mechanism for which we instantly have a lot of good applications. Be happy that we managed to come up with one possibly viable one (quantum crypto).

digitizing consciousness (1)

darksaber (46072) | more than 10 years ago | (#9906107)

I've only read Altered Carbon so far, but he did talk about some of the questions with digitizing the human mind. For example, the Catholics were very much against being brought back in another sleeve if your original body died. Also, Takeshi encountered an assassin which illegally duplicated himself into two different sleeves. (The assassin didn't trust anyone but "himself" as a partner. The second sleeve was a woman though, a theme which came up later during a virtual torture scene.)

I read both... (2, Informative)

Teancom (13486) | more than 10 years ago | (#9903820)

and I liked them both for different reasons. Mainly that's because they are different genre of books. Altered Carbon is a straight-ahead detective story with some great technology thrown in. Broken Angels is more sci-fi'ish, slower paced, and not a mystery at all. So if you look at them as being two stand-alone novels that happen to share a character, you'll be a lot happier. I'll admit it took me a bit longer to get through Broken Angels, though it's been long enough since I read either of them that I can't remember specifically why. It just seems to drag a bit near the end.

The Mandrake Corporation nuking a city? (3, Funny)

mobiux (118006) | more than 10 years ago | (#9903850)

Damn Open Source zealots!!!!

Good books but more to come? (1)

ncw (59013) | more than 10 years ago | (#9903858)

I enjoyed both Altered Carbon and Broken Angels very much. The Science Fiction was hard enough to keep my attention and I did enjoy the detective style of the books.

However I feel the author is painting a bigger canvas than these two books. If you read both the books together you can see interesting themes developing (as one poster said the Martians, but I don't want to drop any spoilers).

I'm hoping for much more out of a series of related books - thats always my favourite when the series adds up to more than the sum of its parts!

Re:Good books but more to come? (3, Interesting)

halowolf (692775) | more than 10 years ago | (#9906450)

Yes I read both of them together and Broken Angels does paint one large and obvious way to a sequel and a few other not so large and obvious ways. And quite frankly I hope we get a sequel.

Despite the type of character Takeshi Kovacs is, I can help but like him, but really thats what anti-hereos are about, we relate to them because they get to do the things that we would like to do in similar situations. Takeshi is certainly not forgiving when he is wronged, but we feel sympathy towards him because of the hardships he has had to endure, even those he has brought onto himself.

addicted to wire? (1)

glazed (122100) | more than 10 years ago | (#9903877)

What is "wire"? The review speaks of it at the end, but...aside from the literal meaning of it, WTF.

Re:addicted to wire? (1)

Kgreene (606578) | more than 10 years ago | (#9903979)

In this context it means jacking into a computer by a nueral connection. In this mythos there physochological problems that manifest when you spend to much time interfaced like that.

Hope that helps.

Re:addicted to wire? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9904177)

I'm assuming (having not read the books) that its a similar idea to that in one of the Ringworld series (Throne or Engineers, I forget), where one has an electrode mounted in the pleasure centre of the brain for handy stimulation.

Then again, it might not be.

#ir3.trolltalk.com (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9903934)

OS I do, because OpenBSD leader Theo '*BSD Sux0rs'. This

Squeee! (3, Informative)

Bahumat (213955) | more than 10 years ago | (#9903967)

Loved 'Altered Carbon', and I'm delighted a sequel is being made.

Fair warning for folks interested in the series though: The torture scenes get gruesome, almost to the point of Piers Anthony's "On The Uses Of Torture" short story.

Being body-swapped into the body of a young woman, on her period, and then being tied down and having your feet slowly blowtorched off.

Yeah. Reader beware. If you can tolerate the gruesome scenes, however, the book is excellent. And from the sounds of it, so is the sequel.

Re:Squeee! (1)

erik_flannestad (472078) | more than 10 years ago | (#9905046)

I've read both and enjoyed them. The first is pulpier and the second held together a bit better as a novel.

I will also add that both books have at least one fairly extended and graphic sex scene of the sort I feel I have to close if I am sitting too close to other folks on the work transit shuttle.

I'm a prude, I know.

In any case, let's hope he doesn't get so bogged down in comic book scripts and screenplays that he never actually gets to write another novel.

Re:Squeee! (4, Insightful)

gilroy (155262) | more than 10 years ago | (#9905855)

This isn't a flame but it'll probably come off like one:

Loved 'Altered Carbon', and I'm delighted a sequel is being made.[emphasis added]

Anyone else concerned about how modern multimedia are unconsciously shaping (degrading?) our frameworks? Sequels to books are "written", not "made". I'm sure this isn't true, but it sounds like the poster can't even conceive of a mode of entertainment fundamentally different from TeeVee or talkies.

What's more, clearly the book is finished, so it's not even being written anymore -- being "made" is doubly wrong. At best you could say it's being published. (But I suspect in fact one would see that it's being "released"...)

Sorry. It's late and I've been on a plane most of the day; I guess my gripe gremlin is acting up...

Re:Squeee! (1)

glazed (122100) | more than 10 years ago | (#9906985)

Interesting point now that you bring it up. I suppose it's just a reflection of how the bulk of our entertainment is "made."

One could say that the book was being made if it referred to the printing and binding process...

Fredrick Pohl called.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9904457)

... and he wants his novel [amazon.com] back.

Market Forces (1)

Builder (103701) | more than 10 years ago | (#9904767)

If you like Richard Morgan's writing even a little, you will want to check out Market Forces.

It's set in a different universe to his first two... a post-apocalyptic England mainly.

When I picked it up, I was quite concerned that it was going to be a straight rip off of Mad Max, but it kept me interested all the way through.

Hell, how can any book that starts off with a quote from a Midnight Oil song NOT be good :)

Re:Market Forces (2, Interesting)

benito27uk (646600) | more than 10 years ago | (#9905064)

It's not a different universe, just set several hundred years before. Market Forces mentions the fact that humans have reached Mars, implying that they haven't yet found the alien technology.

The development of the corporations (as a result of a series of 'domino' recessions rather than a post-apocalyptic event) seems to be the precursor to the corporations within his first two books. Even at the earlier time of Market Forces the corporations are wielding considerable power and openly manipulating governments.

On the whole, Market Forces is a good read, once you have put the authors world views to one side - The dedication gives ample warning that it may not be a balanced view of global corporations when it says:

"It's also dedicated to all those, globally, whose lives have been wrecked or snuffed out by the Great Neoliberal Dream and Slash-and-Burn Globalisation".

Regarding the Mad Max fears (which also raised their heads with me before I bought the book); the author does cite "a rather obvious debt of inspiration" to both Mad Max and Rollerball.

Re:Market Forces (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9907612)

Market Forces was, for me, one huge cliche-ridden disappointment from start to finish.

I just thank god he stuck to BMW's and Saabs. If the central character had driven a Volvo, it would have been unreadable.

Quality of writing (1)

exitzero (62316) | more than 10 years ago | (#9904905)

It was the quality of writing that made Altered Carbon so good in my eyes. it felt like each sentence had been carefully crafted and was the first sci-fi book I had read in a long time that had been really well written (from a literary perspective). Broken Angels and Market forces however read like they had been rushed to meet deadlines, this didn't make them bad books, just a little dissapointing after the first.

I Think of 'Feersum Endjin' (1)

mickwilson20 (703416) | more than 10 years ago | (#9905511)

Mr Banks? Anyone reading Iain (with or without the 'M') Banks out there? Protganists awaken, live and die in a cyber-construct shielding from the realities of the universe. Live and die five times in the first half of the first chapter!

Re:I Think of 'Feersum Endjin' (1)

CrankyFool (680025) | more than 10 years ago | (#9906901)

I'm not reading Banks right now because, well, he's not writing anything right now. I heard he's taking a short break or something.

That said, I do so love his Culture books (pretty much everything by Iain _M_ Banks, except for Feersum Endjin). I've got a bunch of sigquotes that came out of those books. I love the "I can wipe out starsystems but still play practical jokes on my crew" AIs.

His Iaim Banks (no 'M') stuff is a lot more variable. I dug The Wasp Factory pretty much, and
a Song of Stone wasn't _too_ bad. But I never bothered to finish the Bridge.

I'll note that in general his stuff is very, very, very different from Morgan's stuff. His protagonists are often far more tragic than Morgan's protagonist (yeah, Takeshi suffers, but he always comes out ahead of the game).

Takeshi is...scary. (3, Interesting)

PerlMonkey (323967) | more than 10 years ago | (#9905987)

One thing that I found curious about the character is that despite having a well-developed moral system, he seems capable of acts of tremendous violence. He is almost sociopathic in that regard, as he doesn't seem to have the emotional mechanisms which restrain him. This per se is not unusual in humans, but I'd expect it to be accompanied by some distortions in the rest of his psyche - but they are not there. Mostly (not entirely ) he is well adjusted, but once he is engaged in combat he nearly always goes for the most violent solution available.

Envoy programming? Aftereffects of being in combat for a long time? Not sure.

Re:Takeshi is...scary. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9907430)

If you read the first book, "Altered Carbon", carefully you'll see a scene in which Kovaks explains: 'When they make an Envoy, do you know what they do? They burn out every evolved voilence limitation instint in the human psyche. Submission signal recognition, pecking-order dynamics, pack loyalties. It all goes, tuned out a neuron at a time, an d they replace it with a conscious will to harm."

I was impressed in both Altered Carbon and in Broken Angels as to how well the Author followed the template he had layed out for himself

Sophmore Slump (1)

Foo2rama (755806) | more than 10 years ago | (#9906142)

The first book was excellent. An accessable cyber-punk with great film nior undertones. Much more accessable then Gibson. The second book looses the great film nior feel, and the authors lack of being able to describe fast paced events comes back a little worse. Over all a great sophmore effort. The first book was better, hopefully he can find his voice again and tell us more about the man known as Kovacks

noir [nt] (1)

pkhuong (686673) | more than 10 years ago | (#9906808)

nt

Good Review (1)

Jack9 (11421) | more than 10 years ago | (#9906942)

Sounds exactly like the kind of book I would not like to buy.

Interesting but violence/torture fetish gets old (1)

OnanTheBarbarian (245959) | more than 10 years ago | (#9907162)

I sort of enjoyed parts of these books, but I have to say, the gruesome fixation on extreme levels of violence and torture turned me off. I've wallowed in enough Genet and Burroughs in my day to have a strong stomach about these things, but I get the feeling that Morgan is merely sensationalistic about the unpleasant content in his books. Particularly, the extreme ugliness just seemed to be there to

1) justify massive amounts of violence on the part of the protagonists as a reasonable retaliation (a tacky device not unfamiliar to anyone who watches action movies these days),

and

2) Open up a reasonable amount of territory so that the 'tortured, morally ambiguous heroes' can seem like they're in some sort of decent middle ground; just by making the bad guys really, really bad. Err, no, you don't achieve moral complexity by making the bad guys 20 times as bad so that the good guy can still be a real asshole and still seem like a decent guy in the end.

There are a lot of more worthwhile books out there (although not much recent science fiction that isn't retarded, which is a criticism that I would _not_ levy at these books). Ultimately, if you like cheap, nasty thrills, you'll love these books. Enjoy, you sick bastards... :-)

(alternately, read Iain M. Banks, who is well above this guy in the food chain even if he has some similar issues of his own to work out)

Altered Carbon was dreadful (1)

huntdwumpus (534558) | more than 10 years ago | (#9907456)

I had no expectations for Altered Carbon, but it was an excruciating read. I honestly don't know why I bothered to finish it.

First of all, it barely qualifies as scifi. It's more of a bad Hollywood (option-me-please!) mystery thriller with tacked-on, unoriginal science fiction elements. A lot of the dialog is so awkward that I was literally cringing while reading it.

The only thing I got out of Altered Carbon was a strong desire to avoid any of the author's other work.

lol (1)

Lufi2 (778324) | more than 10 years ago | (#9907485)

lol
takeshi is a japanese name
kovacs is hungarian
this information is not important tho

Manipulatives *are* empaths! (1)

notfancy (113542) | more than 10 years ago | (#9920230)

conditioning gives them iron emotional control, a lack of empathy, extra combat awareness, and skill at psychologically manipulating others

Both highlighted assertions are mutually incompatible.

Re:Manipulatives *are* empaths! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9921722)

Put "lack of sympathy" in there instead of "lack of empathy." Most folks confuse the two, IMHO.

Sympathy is feeling another's emotions. Empathy is identifying another's emotions. However, common scifi parlance includes "Empathy" as the ability to broadcast emotions; probably derives from "EMotional telePATHY"; SciFi characters without empathy are often described as unable to express emotions.

I don't know what's worse: that someone went all pedantic on this guy, or that I went all pedantic back :) I must have too much free time. (HA!)
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?