Critics have compared Richard Morgan's first novel, Altered Carbon, to the classic hardboiled fiction of Raymond Chandler. The comparison doesn't accurately describe Morgan's second novel, Broken Angels. Morgan's prose never approaches Chandler's metaphoric excess, and Morgan's antihero, Takeshi Kovacs, doesn't wisecrack nearly as often as Chandler's hero, Philip Marlowe. Also, Kovacs's far-future universe is considerably darker than Marlowe's noir world. In Kovacs's universe, high-tech implants called "stacks" record memory and personality; this means soldiers can be sent to their deaths, have their stacks implanted in new bodies, and be sent to their deaths again, and again, and again. Generals needn't quibble about wasting lives in massacres or nuclear explosions. The slaughtered soldiers will soon be back in action--unless their stacks aren't recovered. Then their consciousness will go mad, isolated in an indestructible, inescapable virtual reality. The proper term for the Takeshi Kovacs novels isn't "hardboiled." It's "brutal."
The Martians disappeared long ago, but they left behind their star gates, which have allowed humanity to spread across the galaxy--and bring warfare to the stars. As Broken Angels opens, Takeshi Kovacs is a lieutenant in humankind's most feared mercenary company, but rumors of an astonishing archaelogical discovery inspire his desertion. Humans have never found a Martian starship until, perhaps, now. If the rumors are true, and the ruthless Kovacs can take possession of the unprecedented relic, he will make his fortune. But if he fails in his quest, he may find himself imprisoned in high-tech hell for eternity. --Cynthia Ward