01/05/2005. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: Gollancz. 436 page hardback. Price: £ 9.99 (UK only). ISBN: 0-575-07325-X.
check out website: www.orionbooks.co.uk
In the previous two books of the adventures of Takeshi Kovacs, we were only given mention of his home planet, Harlan's World. Now, he's come home. Mind you, it is some 200 years since his last awakening. Last time, he was left as a memory stack on a transport returning home.
Kovacs' personality tube, or stack, wake up embedded in a new body or sleeve and is ordered to infiltrate terrorist organisations to locate the daughter of the Harlan Clan herself. Taking the name of Mickey Serendipity for much of the time, this tends to follow a well-reasoned plan until the group he is with is ambushed and most of them lost or injured. Having to acquire a black market sleeve to replace his old body, Kovacs also finds he has some useful adaptations that he can bring to play, especially when he locates dead terrorist Quellcrist Falconer, who seemingly has come back to life. Kovacs also has a secondary problem. The Harlans, fearing he has defected, have brought to life an earlier Kovacs to stalk him as well.
That's it in a nutshell without giving away too much intricacies of the plot. Although I can't fault author Richard Morgan's use of characters and such for bringing things to life, I still take this novelto task for poor SF exploitation. Even with gaps of centuries, technological development and such seems static. The most obvious things they have is the ability to give near immortality, at a price, to people for their continual existence. Yet, there is a lack of technology to identify who is in what sleeve and I'm at a loss to believe just talking to someone is enough to confirm identity. Considering changing sleeves or bodies is seen as the norm, you'd have to think there would be some easy way for identification by technology. This is a cantankerous reality but I can't believe the ability to lie has gone out the window.
The problem with this story is that there isn't much thought on this. Not even a suggestion. Considering how much of this story is dependent on knowing who people are, what would be used by most SF writers as a means to find alternative means isn't even considered. I raised this continually in my reviews of Morgan's previous two Kovacs books and his response on the second one still revealed a lapse in logic even if his editor agreed that I had a point. Then again, this series has Hollywood options and book contracts in the bag, and this is basically thriller fiction loosely masquerading as SF.
If you're in a hole, you shouldn't really be digging down in the same direction.
The technology at the end of the day is only surface dressing. With very few
tweaks, this story could happily be played out in South America with no one
I really don't like coming down on books like a ton of bricks like this. If you like surface SF which doesn't really want you to think about what you're reading, then you'll like this. If you like serious SF, think again.
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