Market Forces, by Richard Morgan

Set about fifty years in the future, this is a story about a society that has split so that the wealthy elite live in fenced off communities and control international events through amoral corporations who promote wars and civil unrest in order to maximise profits. Chris Faulkner has worked his way up from the ghetto to earn a place in one of these companies, Conflict Investment. But it's tough at the top.

This was pretty good: like Altered Carbon, quite a lot of good ideas in here, and a not-bad story to tie them together. Like that book, it's perhaps not completely original - there are echoes (which the author acknowledges himself) of other stories: mostly reminded me of Rollerball - but nevertheless it works OK.

There aren't too many concessions made to the reader as you start this book: it's one where you're dropped in with little or no explanation of what's going on, and so it's not until some way through the book that you manage to deduce the reasons for people's actions. But it was worth it, and by about half-way through I was quite hooked.

One thing I did think worked well was the subplot that had Chris trying to decide whether to leave CI and become an "ombudsman" - working for an international organisation that tries to enforce some kind of international law on the corporations. What was good about this was that there wasn't that much detail on what the role would involve, and that it didn't really pan out in the way that you might expect. It was impressive because it felt as if there was a rich seam of subject-matter that could have been used there, but he left it alone - less is more.

Better than Altered Carbon in that the characters were a bit more distinctive: unlike that book I didn't have trouble remembering who was who.

Definitely worth reading another by Richard Morgan.

Completed : 23-Mar-2009

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