Broken Angels (Gollancz SF S.)
by Richard Morgan
Review by John Berlyne
Gollancz Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 0575073233
Date: 20 March 2003 List Price £17.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Article /
Altered Carbon, Richard Morgan's debut novel released last year was certainly one of top books of 2002. An astonishing first novel that brushed aside many works by established writers in my personal league table. Essentially a hard-boiled future SF-noir, it was one of those works that fizzled with such energy and verve that to my mind at least it was the embodiment of that ever-to-be-avoided reviewers cliché, "unputdownable". The novel received rave reviews across the board, nominations for awards and, most notably, Morgan sold a movie option to Joel Silver (the guy who produced The Matrix) for a reported million bucks. Not bad for a first novel! From official release/information:
Amazon.co.uk Review: Broken Angels is a standalone sequel, to Richard Morgan's debut novel Altered Carbon--a high-tech, ultra-violent, noir SF thriller which attracted much attention, including a movie deal.
Thirty years later, our super-soldier hero Takeshi Kovacs is wearing yet another body (swapping is easy in this future), already wounded in a messy war against revolutionary forces on the planet Sanction IV. Very soon he's lured from his duties into a hunt for a fantastic treasure discovered by archaeologists and carefully hushed up. The long-vanished Martians who once colonised the galaxy have left a buried hyperspace gateway leading to a working starship in distant orbit.
Kovacs uses frightening violence to get the attention of corporate sponsors even more ruthless than himself. His hastily assembled exploration team must work in a lethal fallout zone, racing to open the gate before they're stopped by radiation sickness, treacherous sabotage, or the threat of fast-evolving nanoweaponry. And there are repeated hints that if they ever make it through that gateway, worse things are waiting on the far side...
It's all desperately tense and crafted with appalling inventiveness. Life is cheap and death is no release, because the "cortical stack" implanted in everyone's spine constantly records the total personality, ready for "re-sleeving" in a new clone body or storage in virtual reality. So Kovacs goes recruiting at the macabre Soul Market, where thanks to the war there are literal skiploads of hacked-out sections of human spine containing stacks--for sale by the kilogram.
Other ingredients include sex, voodoo, torture, multiple betrayal, cool military technology, incomprehensible alien constructions, age-old cycles of catastrophe, and--above all--extreme violence. The screw is turned further and further, beyond what seems possible. Readers may find themselves forgetting to breathe. This is a rattling good yarn, for the strong of stomach. --David Langford