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Book report: Richard K. Morgan's "Woken Furies" (hardcore sci-fi)
Old 06-21-2006, 02:58 PM   #1
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Book report: Richard K. Morgan's "Woken Furies" (hardcore sci-fi)

I've been reading sci fi since the 1960s and I've been stuck in the Golden Age of Asimov, Clarke, & Heinlein for most of my life. Even Jack Chalker, Jerry Pournelle, & Larry Niven seem like hacks alongside their giant ancestors.

However Morgan has firmly dragged me into the 21st century with his books, for which I'm going to have to (*gasp*) pay real money and add to my personal collection.

Although his predecessors hit it with short stories & magazines, Morgan spent over 15 years getting his first novel in print while teaching English as a second language. This is his fourth novel, I don't think he's done anything shorter, and it's a heckuva hard way to make the best-seller lists.

"Woken Furies" is his third and possibly best tale of film-noir mercenary criminal Takeshi Kovacs. It's tough-guy private detective stuff, but the twist is that future humanity has colonized the stars and perfected the art of "digitized humans". People can live in their own bodies (well, just about any body), in cheap synthetic robots, or in virtual reality. Hardware "cortical stacks" are attached to brains to record their personae & experiences. Add in wireless Internet archival and corporeal death becomes meaningless-- as long as you recover the cortical stack or have an uncorrupted backup copy in secure storage. (A "virus" in this world is a mutating biological software nightmare.) "Sleeve" yourself into a new (cloned) body and you're good to go. Spaceships are for robot freighters, not people-- digitally hypercast your archived self to a new planet for a different resleeve and a new life. The possibilities (and lifespans) are endless as long as you can afford it!

Morgan drops you in the middle of Kovacs' problems and lets you sort out the plot with its endless subplots & conspiracies. Kovacs is a modern-day equivalent of Robert Mitchum in a Raymond Chandler novel (or for you kids, Spenser in Robert B. Parker). Tough guys are replaced with combat-ready neurachem-boosted sleeves, guns & fistfights are replaced by blasters & martial arts, babes become troubled gritty grrl heroines, cigarettes & alcohol are replaced with recreational hallucinogens & tetrameth. Sex & pornography have, of course, made similar "advances". I also appreciate the unexpected literary gifts. Morgan's first book invoked Jimi Hendrix as an AI running a hotel, and "Woken Furies" pays homage to Kem Nunn's books with a beachside colony of multi-centenarian revolutionaries turned surfers. When you can practice your cutbacks for decades, you get pretty good at the lifestyle while selling your trained surfing sleeves to kooks & groms. Kovacs is nursing a grudge this time but "Furies" refers to the "Hell hath no fury like a women scorned" storyline with a sci-fi vengeance.

I'm hooked. I read each Morgan book three times-- once for the exploration & surprises, a second time to figure out all the foreshadowing and setups, and a third time to enjoy a writer reveling in his craft. Now I'll have to stack all three next to my recliner and read them in one long story arc. "Whaddya DO all day?" indeed-- it's like Harry Potter for grownups. Did I mention that I really like Morgan's books?

"Woken Furies" stands alone. You don't have to read "Altered Carbon" or "Broken Angels" first but it certainly puts the later books into a deeper and more complicated context. And if you like Morgan's surfers, you'll like Kem Nunn's even better. (Thanks, Ronin!)
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Re: Book report: Richard K. Morgan's "Woken Furies" (hardcore sci-fi)
Old 06-21-2006, 08:03 PM   #2
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Re: Book report: Richard K. Morgan's "Woken Furies" (hardcore sci-fi)

Hehe, at least you're not afraid to admit you're a true nerd. I'll have to check out Woken Furies this summer. All finance reading all the time has my head spinning. I need some fun reading.

I used to find my sci-fi reads from the Nebula Award winners' list. I found John Varley to be an incredible writer, but his latest efforts aren't anywhere up to his Gaean Trilogy heights.
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Re: Book report: Richard K. Morgan's "Woken Furies" (hardcore sci-fi)
Old 06-21-2006, 08:10 PM   #3
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Re: Book report: Richard K. Morgan's "Woken Furies" (hardcore sci-fi)

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Originally Posted by BunsOfVeal
Hehe, at least you're not afraid to admit you're a true nerd.
Kinda goes with the nuclear-engineering stuff...
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Re: Book report: Richard K. Morgan's "Woken Furies" (hardcore sci-fi)
Old 06-21-2006, 08:22 PM   #4
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Re: Book report: Richard K. Morgan's "Woken Furies" (hardcore sci-fi)

I liked early scifi.; that is before science fantisy - people with special powers and such. How would you classify this book?
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Re: Book report: Richard K. Morgan's "Woken Furies" (hardcore sci-fi)
Old 06-21-2006, 08:53 PM   #5
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Re: Book report: Richard K. Morgan's "Woken Furies" (hardcore sci-fi)

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I liked early scifi.; that is before science fantisy - people with special powers and such. How would you classify this book?
Cyberpunk? The ability to sleeve into and out of custom bodies reminds me of stims in William Gibson's novels. It doesn't really matter. Sometimes the "science" in sci-fi is just a great way to tell what-if stories, unconstrained by regular old reality. It's like an acid trip for us non acid takers.
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Re: Book report: Richard K. Morgan's "Woken Furies" (hardcore sci-fi)
Old 06-21-2006, 09:31 PM   #6
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Re: Book report: Richard K. Morgan's "Woken Furies" (hardcore sci-fi)

Quote:
Originally Posted by dex
I liked early scifi.; that is before science fantisy - people with special powers and such. How would you classify this book?
Quote:
Originally Posted by BunsOfVeal
Cyberpunk?
Exactly-- hard-core sci-fi with cyperpunk like Necromancer. But that's just a background to the "film noir" story line.

Morgan's special powers come straight from "modern" technology.* Arthur C. Clarke used to say that the powers of a sufficiently technologically advanced group of people would be indistinguishable from magic, but there's no faeries or flying dragons in these tales...
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Re: Book report: Richard K. Morgan's "Woken Furies" (hardcore sci-fi)
Old 06-22-2006, 09:32 AM   #7
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Re: Book report: Richard K. Morgan's "Woken Furies" (hardcore sci-fi)

Oh, actually, William Gibson's characters used decks, but I swear there was some mention of "meat puppets". In any case, the future looks scary. Not that anyone cares, but I need to maintain my nerd membership by correctly citing sci-fi novels.
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Re: Book report: Richard K. Morgan's "Woken Furies" (hardcore sci-fi)
Old 06-22-2006, 10:26 AM   #8
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Re: Book report: Richard K. Morgan's "Woken Furies" (hardcore sci-fi)

Thanks Nords.* I need to move into this century in my sci fi reading.* I still remember discovering Heinlein and Asimov in fourth grade.* Lost a year of my life* to space travel, nerdy girl that I was.*

EDIT:* just reserved Altered Carbon, Broken Angels and Woken Furries at my library, should be in from the branches later today. Good timing, I was out of reading material.
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Re: Book report: Richard K. Morgan's "Woken Furies" (hardcore sci-fi)
Old 06-22-2006, 02:20 PM   #9
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Re: Book report: Richard K. Morgan's "Woken Furies" (hardcore sci-fi)

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Originally Posted by Nords
Exactly-- hard-core sci-fi with cyperpunk like Necromancer. But that's just a background to the "film noir" story line.
I just finished re-reading Idoru by Gibson. Great cyber-punk novel. Of course the Neal Stephenson novels are classics (Zodiac, Snowcrash, Diamond Age).
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Re: Book report: Richard K. Morgan's "Woken Furies" (hardcore sci-fi)
Old 06-22-2006, 02:54 PM   #10
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Re: Book report: Richard K. Morgan's "Woken Furies" (hardcore sci-fi)

We should post our best science fiction books, perhaps we'll all get good ideas.

My best two:

"The Moon is a Harsh Mistress", by Heinlein
"Ender's Game", by Card
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Re: Book report: Richard K. Morgan's "Woken Furies" (hardcore sci-fi)
Old 06-22-2006, 04:22 PM   #11
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Re: Book report: Richard K. Morgan's "Woken Furies" (hardcore sci-fi)

Ahhh - yes, loved Nueromancer and then Snow Crash - also Phillip Kerr has written a good sci-fi about blood (don't want to give away plot). Nords, thanks for this tip - I love well written cyperpunk sci-fi and yes, I love Asimov and some Heinlein. I've lately been doing mostly non-fiction reading because frankly most newer non-fiction authors write crp - I can tell the plot immediately and the formulaic aspect gets BORING quickly.

Thanks again - Bridget
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Re: Book report: Richard K. Morgan's "Woken Furies" (hardcore sci-fi)
Old 06-22-2006, 05:03 PM   #12
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Re: Book report: Richard K. Morgan's "Woken Furies" (hardcore sci-fi)

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Originally Posted by Surfdaddy
We should post our best science fiction books, perhaps we'll all get good ideas.

My best two:

"The Moon is a Harsh Mistress", by Heinlein
"Ender's Game", by Card
Ditto Ender's Game although not the rest of the series at the same level.
How about Dan Simmons' Hyperion?

I gotta go with Nords on Asimov. The original Foundation Trilogy still ranks at the top for me.
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Re: Book report: Richard K. Morgan's "Woken Furies" (hardcore sci-fi)
Old 06-22-2006, 05:13 PM   #13
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Re: Book report: Richard K. Morgan's "Woken Furies" (hardcore sci-fi)

Darn, none of Morgan's books are in the DC library. I liked 'Altered Carbon' so maybe 'Woken Furies' is worth a purchase.

By the way, thanks for the earlier reference to 'Dead Watch' (not SF) on another thread a week ago or so. I know some of you are on long waiting lists but the DC library got it to me in a couple of days. Good read.
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Re: Book report: Richard K. Morgan's "Woken Furies" (hardcore sci-fi)
Old 06-22-2006, 10:55 PM   #14
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Re: Book report: Richard K. Morgan's "Woken Furies" (hardcore sci-fi)

my alltime favorite = dune!!!!
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Re: Book report: Richard K. Morgan's "Woken Furies" (hardcore sci-fi)
Old 06-23-2006, 12:35 AM   #15
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Re: Book report: Richard K. Morgan's "Woken Furies" (hardcore sci-fi)

I second that...have read tons of SciFi and none of it stands up to Dune (the ones by Frank Herbert).

William Gibson's Pattern Recognition is really good too, one of his best I think.

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Re: Book report: Richard K. Morgan's "Woken Furies" (hardcore sci-fi)
Old 06-23-2006, 07:44 AM   #16
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Re: Book report: Richard K. Morgan's "Woken Furies" (hardcore sci-fi)

I have too many favorites and there are too many styles to think about what may be my favorite, but Slaughterhouse Five comes to mind.

The first sci fi book I read was A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L'Engle. Absolutely suburb children's book.
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Re: Book report: Richard K. Morgan's "Woken Furies" (hardcore sci-fi)
Old 06-23-2006, 11:53 AM   #17
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Re: Book report: Richard K. Morgan's "Woken Furies" (hardcore sci-fi)

Nords, are you familiar with Neal Stephenson? How would you compare Morgan to his work?
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Re: Book report: Richard K. Morgan's "Woken Furies" (hardcore sci-fi)
Old 06-23-2006, 12:57 PM   #18
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Re: Book report: Richard K. Morgan's "Woken Furies" (hardcore sci-fi)

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Nords, are you familiar with Neal Stephenson?* How would you compare Morgan to his work?
Apparently I've never read Neal Stephenson... I see that "Snow Crash" came out while I was still on sea duty, so that would explain why I missed him. I'm gonna have to rectify that.

Don't know. Some of the Amazon book reviews sound similar, but I'll have to read one or two of his books first.

Morgan's second book, Market Forces, sounds similar to Stephenson. The world has splintered along economic lines and executives have outsourced everything. Driving to work has become so competitive that execs fight each other to death on the road like Mad Max to compete for contracts. The best part about the book is that the main character seems to be finding a way to escape the lifestyle, but at the last minute he he... well, I won't spoil it.

MF is completely different from Morgan's other books but it's a nasty dark view of the world. Again I had to read it three times to appreciate the plot twists and a guy who writes just for the fun of it. But I think the publisher told Morgan to concentrate on the franchise and not waste his time writing more MF stuff until he's in his 60s.
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Re: Book report: Richard K. Morgan's "Woken Furies" (hardcore sci-fi)
Old 06-23-2006, 12:58 PM   #19
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Re: Book report: Richard K. Morgan's "Woken Furies" (hardcore sci-fi)

Does The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton count?

That's the latest sci-fi I've read.

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Re: Book report: Richard K. Morgan's "Woken Furies" (hardcore sci-fi)
Old 06-23-2006, 01:07 PM   #20
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Re: Book report: Richard K. Morgan's "Woken Furies" (hardcore sci-fi)

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Does The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton count?
That's the latest sci-fi I've read.
Oh, man, now you're gonna try to tell us that your avatar wasn't inspired by "The Matrix"...

I enjoyed "The Terminal Man", "Timeline", and "Prey". And "Congo" was just waaaaay ahead of its time.
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