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Customer Review

Ever since I saw Blade Runner as a kid, I've been in love with the idea of blending science-fiction with crime, and this is a totally compelling mix of the two. Set about 500 years in the future, the story follows Takeshi Kovacs, a former space marine who has been "resleeved" to investigate a suicide on Earth. You see, in the future, one's mind or consciousness can be digitized and stored in "stacks" implanted in the base of your skull. If you commit a crime, your stack is removed and placed in storage for the duration of your sentence (usually decades or centuries), and then you are "resleeved" in a new body. Of course, resleeving costs, and for many people, a new body is like a new car or new house, with monthly payments to keep up lest your body get repossessed...
The flip side of this is that dying is only a temporary thing-unless your stack has been somehow destroyed and there's no backup, then you're subject to "RD" (real death). And if you've got enough money to get into cloning and data storage, one can live a virtually endless and seamless life. It's one of these "Meths" (after Methuselah, just one example of the excellent creation of slang in the book), who has Takeshi remanded and "needlecast" (digitally freighted) from offworld to investigate his alleged suicide in Bay City (aka San Francisco). Takeshi had been in prison, having been captured as a mercenary in a vibrantly kinetic prologue.
The meth, Bancroft, is one of the future elite, weaving elaborate corporate and political webs with others of his kind. Apparently he committed suicide a few weeks ago, but he's convinced it was murder. He's paid heftily to have Kovacs released and resleeved to investigate his death and what happened in the 48 hours leading up to it-48 hours that elapsed between his last stack backup and his temporary death. This is a great setup, as we have a reluctant protagonist grudgingly working on a case for a sinister Bancroft, quickly getting caught up with Bay City PD, Bancroft's hyper-sexy wife, and all kinds of foes.
It's an extremely convoluted tale, with lots of double-crossing, plot twists, hidden agendas, sexual tension (and outright graphic sex), dry tough guy humor, and excellent action sequences. It's so jam-packed it almost gets overwhelming at times, and one wishes Morgan had been able to trim just a little bit here and there. However, he's built a very intriguing and nasty future earth, where-as one might well imagine-a lot of the technology gets channeled into the sex trade. This is great pulp fiction, with great characters, including my favorite: the AI Hendrix Hotel. It's a hotel that runs itself using artificial intelligence, making for a hilarious, yet plausible, character. This is a great genre-blending debut, let's hope the sequel (Broken Angels) is as good.
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