three-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
16-May-June-2005
user_rating: 
0

A-MarketForcesIn a near-future world, big business rules at the expense of a segregated underclass. With money to be made in lethal road rage and war profiteering, violence pervades every aspect of society. When young executive Chris Faulkner takes a job with the multinational Shorn Associates, he becomes involved in the world’s newest business model—CI, or Conflict Investment, where corporations pick sides in Third World wars and fund competing totalitarian and guerilla movements, it doesn’t matter which. Faulkner unleashes violence as he rises in the company, yet he has one crippling handicap: his conscience.
Ballantine. 464 pages. $14.95. ISBN: 0345457749

Entertainment Weekly 4 of 5 Stars
"Chris’s morning commute entails challenging company rivals to deadly highway duels refereed by a DMV-like ‘Driver Control.’ [Market Forces] is turbo-injected with moral ambiguity, Wag the Dog political scenarios, and action sequences fit for a Bruckheimer movie." Noah Robischon

Seattle Times 4 of 5 Stars
"Like the hyped-up, heavily armored car his hero drives, Richard Morgan’s third novel blows away all competition. … Morgan’s talent for tension-building is matched by the clarity with which he describes the sideswiping, rubber-burning, rear-end-ramming, full-contact racing scenes. And both these skills are quietly eclipsed by his word-for-word writing ability." Nisi Shawl

Washington Post 2.5 of 5 Stars
"An angrier, more ambitious book than its predecessors, Morgan’s latest is the work of a man whose formidable talents are not yet fully under control. … But despite his penchant for dramatic excess, Morgan remains a smart, hard-driving storyteller who compels the reader’s attention." Bill Sheehan

San Francisco Chronicle 2 of 5 Stars
You can take Rollerball and invest it with theoretical underpinnings cribbed from Noam Chomsky, but that doesn’t mean you are doing a service to either source. … In its present form, the novel feels bloated and obvious, despite the sharpness of the descriptive writing and a couple of first-rate fight sequences." Michael Berry

Critical Summary

Morgan (Altered Carbon 4 of 5 Stars Sept/Oct 2003; Broken Angels 4 of 5 Stars July/Aug 2004) leaves his far-future SF thrillers for a violent corporate satire. An indictment of globalization, the novel condemns economic exploitation and offers a scenario in which companies will sell anything in a world where human life is cheap. Though set in the near future, the thriller’s premise convinced the critics. Initially conceived as a film script, Market Forces contains cinematic settings (like deadly car duels on otherwise deserted highways), graphic violence, and constant tension. A few reviewers criticized the novel’s length (how much blood can one take?) and polemical tone. But it all adds up to solid, if loosely conceived, "global issues" thriller.

Further Reading

Stable Strategies and Others | Eileen Gunn, introduction by William Gibson (2004): This SF collection contains "Stable Strategies for Middle Management," a near-future corporate satire in which employees must evolve genetically in order to get ahead. It’s all about results—even if you wake up with an insect’s mouth.