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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Review: Market Forces

Market Forces (kindle edition) is Richard Morgan's novel about capitalism. It depicts a world in which corporations run foreign policy on behalf of corporations in order to keep labor costs low and sweat shops running.

The protagonist, Chris Faulkner, grew up in the cordoned zones after his father was killed for not having money to pay bills at he supermarket cashier. The result: the son grows up to become a corporate warrior in a world where promotions are determined by the results of duels on the streets where men and women fight it out in battle-wagons.

The novel starts with Faulkner joining Shorn Associates as a new executive. His boss hates him, and schemes against him at every opportunity. His new partner who becomes a friend is a blood thirsty maniac who shoots four car-jackers in "self-defense." Faulkner becomes successful despite their machinations, but at the cost of becoming a cold blooded killer in the model of Shorn Associates. His wife then begins a battle for his soul...

Maybe I've become inured to Morgan's novels, but the sex and violence don't seem all that explicit at this point. There is definitely something odd about Morgan writing about corporate-style capitalism, since the man has apparently never had a corporate job in his life. As it is, the corporate cut-throat behavior of executives does ring true (I've seen enough of it in my time), but the concept of executives ever bloodying their hands when they can have minions do it for them doesn't strike me as something true. In any case, like all of other Morgan's novels, it's a great read, just not as great as the Takeshi Kovacs series. Recommended at the Kindle price.
“I’d say a practicing free market economist has blood on his hands, or he isn’t doing his job properly. It comes with the market, and the decisions it demands. Hard decisions, decisions of life and death. We have to make those decisions, and we have to get them right. We have to be determined to get them right. The blood on our hands today is the blood of our less determined colleagues, and that says something. To you, Liz, to our audience, and most of all to our Cambodian clients, that blood says that when the hard decisions come, we will not flinch from them.”


md said...

This novel sounds too unrealistic to be enjoyable (i.e. I think I would constantly be thinking "that could never happen"). Is it actually credible? Or is he trying to make a point about the direction multinational corporate behavior is going?

Piaw Na said...

It's not credible. This is fiction and it's proud of it. He even injects a section where Faulkner tries to read a science fiction novel, and it's clearly his first novel (Altered Carbon), and of course Faulkner finds that novel unbelievable as well. :-)