Tuesday, May 31, 2005

17. Market Forces by Richard K. Morgan

Market Forces book pictureThis was the perfect book to help keep the pace going. I read Morgan's first book, called Altered Carbon, that was basically a detective noir set in a pretty far cyberpunk future. It was well done science fiction. Market Forces is much more compelling and thematically rich, though still a classic male sci-fi book on the surface. It takes place near the end of this century. Globalization has continued to thrive and the world is controlled by powerful corporations. Division between the rich and the poor has become so extreme that London is separated into two distinct zones, divided by checkpoint barriers. The protagonist is a hot-shot financier working in Conflict Investment, the hottest growth area in the market. Basically, large corporations finance and manage small wars all over the world and reap huge profits off the weapons sales and subsequent cheap labour markets.

It's such a cut-throat world that to actually get ahead, you have a road duel with whoever's position or accounts you want to take. All the top execs drive around in armored, souped-up luxury vehicles and the best are like sports celebrities. I know it sounds kind of too over-the-top, but in the context of the book, it really works. How this state of affairs came to pass is slowly revealed and it fits in very well in what is ultimately a damning condemnation of global capitalism. The protagonist does some brutal things, but he's always wrestling with his conscience and begins to side with the revolutionary underdogs that he's financing.

It's macho writing and fun for people like me to read. The boardroom politics are well-constructed and gripping and there's tons of action: gunfights, street brawls and road battles. But the whole thing is very political. This is narrative entertainment with a political purpose balanced so well that neither side of the deal suffers. Good stuff. Strongly recommended.

1 comment:

Crumbolst said...

Wow, this looks like a good read. I could probably do without the boardroom banter, but one never knows. If it's put under the pressure of violent consequences then maybe it might be fun.

I like the premise a lot!