Woken Furies is the third book following the adventures of Takeshi Kovacs an ex-envoy, a form of bioengineered super soldier with elite training and perception. Fans of Richard K. Morgan maybe more familiar with his first Kovacs novel Altered Carbon which was released as a Netflix series last year and this book goes onto explore that universe.
The universe Morgan conjures is one of questionable ethics and moral divisions. It is set in the far future in which it is possible to download your consciousness into different bodies with only real death occurring if a data chip in the neck is destroyed. This clever mechanism allows people to travel interstellar distances by casting into a grown body, known as sleeves. Morgan established the mechanics in Altered Carbon began to explore the morality of who can afford to use such potentially immortal making technology. He challenges us to question what is love when a person’s appearance and even gender can be so fluid that it can be changed almost as easily as one might change a shirt. What problems does immortality bring to the individual and to society. This third novel explores this idea of the effect of this technology has on government and democracy. Is it right to have a privileged elite control everything because the control the technology. It’s a very analogous to problems we are starting to raise in the real world concerning gene technology and editing. Where exactly are the moral lines.
The storyline follows the possible re-emergence of Quellcrist Falconer on Kovacs’ home world and the effect this could have. Takeshi Kovacs is your typical downtrodden ex-soldier, disillusioned with everything and very unsure where his allegiances lie. His ambivalence to situations can be challenging as a reader. There times when we want him to be heroic and take a stand but we find Morgan steering the character away from these decisions. He seemed to bring us to the brink several time before unleashing the full potential of Takeshi.
The technology portrayed is some of the best hard, high concept technology in science fiction writing and with it come some very interesting question. The narrative is fast paced but can occasionally be a little confusing, Morgan intimately understands his world and gives the reader the barest bones with which to explore it. This makes the first fifty pages or so hard going as we adapt to the depth of Morgan’s world, persevere however and you are rewarded with a fascinating story.
The deeply political aspect to the book makes this, for me, weaker than the previous two entries but it is always great to be immersed in Takeshi Kovacs world and to experience life through his eyes.