Market Forces (2004) – Richard K. Morgan

Description:

From the award-winning author of Altered Carbon and Broken Angels –a turbocharged new thriller set in a world where killers are stars, media is mass entertainment, and freedom is a dangerous proposition . . .

A coup in Cambodia. Guns to Guatemala. For the men and women of Shorn Associates, opportunity is calling. In the superheated global village of the near future, big money is made by finding the right little war and supporting one side against the other–in exchange for a share of the spoils. To succeed, Shorn uses a new kind of corporate gladiator: sharp-suited, hard-driving gunslingers who operate armored vehicles and follow a Samurai code. And Chris Faulkner is just the man for the job.

He fought his way out of London’s zone of destitution. And his kills are making him famous. But unlike his best friend and competitor at Shorn, Faulkner has a side that outsiders cannot see: the side his wife is trying to salvage, that another woman–a porn star turned TV news reporter–is trying to exploit. Steeped in blood, eyed by common criminals looking for a shot at fame, Faulkner is living on borrowed time. Until he’s given one last shot at getting out alive. . . .

Review From Publishers Weekly

Morgan’s brutal, provocative third novel (after Altered Carbon and Broken Angels) charts the moral re-education of executive Chris Faulkner, who joins notoriously successful Shorn Associates, which specializes in “conflict investment” – financing totalitarian regimes, as well as guerrilla movements, in developing countries that are never allowed to develop. Taking his theme from such well-known critics of Western capitalism as Noam Chomsky, Susan George and Michael Moore (all listed as sources), the author presents a bleak near-future that includes continuing job loss through NAFTA, the undermining of national economies like that of China and the creation of a permanent underclass. Faulkner and other company hotshots compete in highly dangerous, often fatal car races, which reflect the ruthlessness of their corporate careers. Faulkner’s auto-mechanic wife, Carla, strives to humanize him, but he will have to kill a lot of people with his car, guns and, in the penultimate bloodbath, a baseball bat before seeing the error of his ways. While some may be put off by the graphic violence and the heavy-handed polemics, most readers will find Morgan’s economic extrapolation convincing and compelling.

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