Market Forces (Gollancz SF)
by Richard Morgan
Review by John Berlyne
Gollancz Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 0575075120
Date: 04 March 2004 List Price £9.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Article /
I read somewhere recently and article about the tremendous rise in men's interest magazines over last dozen or so years. Publications such a FHM, GQ and Esquire are big business nowadays and they specialize in things that, broadly speaking, men like. And, broadly speaking of course, these things are not hard to identify -- we're talking here of sharp Italian suits, of slick, mean-looking cars and pouting, scantily clad sex-goddess girls. Furthermore, the blokes who relish such things tend, again broadly speaking, to be in high risk, high pressure jobs -- they work in the city as brokers, or lawyers and such like. From official release/information:
Amazon.co.uk Review: 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