If I were a neuroscientist, I’d want to dissect Richard K. Morgan’s brain. The 25th century worlds he creates for his Takeshi Kovacs novels are so richly detailed and colored, his brain must certainly have extraordinary imaginary powers. This third Kovacs novel, Woken Furies, only strengthens that belief.
Kovacs, a former UN Protectorate Envoy – more enforcer than diplomat – returns to his native planet, Harlan’s World, seeking revenge on the Knights of the New Revelation, a cult of misogynist religious zealots he holds responsible for the death of the only woman he ever loved. In the 25th century, death is relative. Consciousness has been digitalized and stored in memory “stacks” implanted in the base of everyone’s skull. As long as the stack survives, a person can be “re-sleeved” into a new body. If the stack is destroyed, however, death is permanent. The Knights Kovacs is pursuing made sure the woman he loved was permanently dead.
Following a raid on a New Revelation strong point, Kovacs escapes by joining up with a group of “deComs,” mercenaries who earn their keep by destroying intelligent robotic weapons left over from a civil war that made one of Harlan’s World’s continents uninhabitable. The group’s leader, Sylvie, is a “command head” whose brain has been enhanced with electronics to aid in fighting the robots. Soon it becomes apparent Sylvie’s command software has been invaded by another consciousness—that of the long dead revolutionary, Quellcrist Falconer, who begins to take over control of her body.
Kovacs finds himself unwillingly dragged into a neo-Quellcrist uprising, while at the same time being pursued by New Revelation assassins, a Yakuza warlord, and agents of the ruling oligarchy, the Harlan family. Among the latter is an Illegal download of a younger Kovacs consciousness who determined to kill his older self.
Morgan’s work is known for its acid social commentary, and Woken Furies is drenched in it—from the oligarchic ruling class to the hypocritical religious extremists. Morgan has said this would be the last Kovacs book. Perhaps so. But it won’t the last of Morgan’s work I read.