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By Ryan on 08-23-14
Gritty, hard-boiled space action
The first in this series, Altered Carbon, was all the rage a few years back. It was a gritty, hard-boiled detective story set in the 25th century, complete with pithy first person narration by sardonic tough guy male protagonist. The universe is a little reminiscent of the one in the movie Blade Runner, with powerful corporations that run everything and crime syndicates and rebel groups in the shadows. The most notable technological feature of this reality is the ability to back human consciousness up on a "cortical stack" implant, allowing people to "resleeve" in a new body if the old one gets excessively damaged. The implications of this made for some interesting twists, both in terms of plot and human themes.
In this novel, a loose sequel to Altered Carbon, Takeshi Kovacs has put aside the detective work and is back to his former trade of soldiering. He's serving as a mercenary on behalf of a corporate power battling rebel fanatics on a planet whose civilian populace is receiving the brunt of the misery and suffering. He's feeling about ready to jump ship on his contract when a pilot points Kovacs to a xenoarchaeologist in a prison camp, who knows something about a gateway leading to an ancient, derelict alien starship -- the find of the century. Can he put together a team to stake legal claim?
As with many sequels to hot first novels, the dazzle factor of the author’s style and universe has worn off a little, and this reader notices the formula a little more. For those who liked the grit, hard-boiled cynicism, manga-like universe, over-the-top sex scenes, and action movie machismo of Altered Carbon, Broken Angels brings more of that, but the characters and plot are more familiar and forgettable. While the part surrounding the entering of the long-dead ghost ship, the high point of the book, has a cool eeriness similar to the opening of the movie Alien and its own horror to deliver about the fate of a superior civilization, the story leading up this point isn’t hugely riveting. Yes, the sequences about locating a corporate backer (without being screwed over by the same), recruiting a squad of soldiers from the colorful personalities found in a pile of discarded cortical stacks, battling nanobots, and discovering what became of a previous expedition to the alien ship, were a pleasant audio distraction while I was doing yard work, a lot of other science fiction novels could have done as much. The war going on in the background had potential to be interesting, but wasn’t fleshed out much -- I suspect it will come more into play in the next book.
All in all, this is a recommendation for those who loved Altered Carbon and want to go further into the Takeshi Kovacs universe, but other readers could probably take it or leave it. Audiobook reader Todd McLaren has a square-jawed voice that suits the hard-boiled nature of Morgan's prose well and keeps it from coming across as too self-serious, but his sultry-voiced women can be a little irritating. Particularly the "sassy black girl" voice.
12 of 13 people found this review helpful
By crazybatcow on 07-15-08
Very very good story, very very "adult"
I also listened to Altered Carbon (first book in the series). This one is slightly better in some way - it seems more smooth or something, less time spent explaining the backdrop perhaps. The story is independent of the first book so you don't have to read them in order (but Altered Carbon is good enough that you should anyway)
Same narrator as the first book and he is terrific! Probably one of the best readers I've heard: his women's voices don't sound absurd, and you can tell who's talking from his intonation.
It is graphic, with detailed (and very long) sex scenes which are gratuitous in nature - i.e. they don't advance the plot in any significant way. I'm not a prude and I don't mind listening to sex, but be forewarned that it is adult in nature, a.k.a pornographic, no two ways about it. I would have taken off a star for this but it's such a good story otherwise and there's always a fast forward button.
And, of course, it is violent and gory and has a dim view of the value of human life...
But, other than that, it's terrific!
40 of 48 people found this review helpful
By Michael on 07-08-12
A Solid 4 Star Hardcore Scifi Roller-coaster Ride
Richard Morgan is a fun read/listen for any hard tech scifi lover. Period. He just gets it. He's into the moment, wherever you are in this great audiobook, and you can feel it. He's brought warfare, technology, moral crises, hard action, plots within plots, backstabbing, subterfuge, turn-on-a-dime plot direction, and so much more to this novel. From Voodoo tech dealers, to mega corp nanotech battles, to virtual playgrounds, to bionic enhancements that offer virtual immortality, to gigantic alien ark ships, you, dear reader, are going to be busy in a great way.
Remember, if you like the soft gentle scifi writings of early Heinlein or Norton, this won't quite be your cup of tea.
Otherwise, jump in, pull the bar close to your chest, keep your arms in the car at all times - You're in for a wild ride!
7 of 8 people found this review helpful
By Midwesterner on 02-16-18
I can read erotica elsewhere.
An exciting story with great characters ruined by these distracting, awkward bits of .. well really it's porn, not erotica.
Don't get me wrong. I like a good steamy love scene. I mean, what's not to like? But, this just had kind of a creepy misogynist feel to it. I understand that Kovacs is an intense and passionate character who is used to a good conquest or two or ten per novel. But this was like the author realized that Shades of Grey and books like that are very very popular, so maybe he thought ... . I'm sorry but he just isn't making it work.
Most of the (should I call them sessions?) are way, way too long. I was like "Alright enough already." And I fast-forwarded.
As far as the storyline goes. I love this whole idea. I love its worlds .I love Kovacs. This particular book; I'm about halfway through and honestly it's a little contrived. It winds around.
The next book is even more sexually explicit. Just FYI. That one I'm just reading on my Kindle. I heard the narrator wasn't so great. Didn't know how to pronounce Kovacs.
Anyway that's my two cents.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
By Kathy on 07-02-13
Enjoyed this second one in the series alot, too!
Not quite as good as Altered Carbon but almost so. The element of surprise at the world Morgan created was missing, but I was happy with how it felt comfortable and familiar to return to Kovacs world. Cyber noir or cyber punk--whichever it is, I certainly had a fun listen here and wouldn't hesitate to get the third book in the series, "Woken Furies".
5 of 6 people found this review helpful