(Edit: this post ruffled a lot of feather’s among Morgan’s fans. Not sure Morgan himself cared much though. I removed the original tweet that tweeted to Morgan.)
Alright let’s get this over with.
I don’t know if it is merely that I am old, or if it is that the world has just changed that rapidly. I had a pretty strong resentment towards the initial popularity of Game of Thrones, largely because it was exactly the kind of thing kids would be stuffed into lockers for liking when I was a kid. Most other people were less physically responsive to my enjoyment of para-literature, but there was still an idea that I would eventually grow out of these things and pursue more adult things. After all, science-fiction was escapism, often filled with barbaric, misogynist conceptions of sex and half-formed, intellectual lazy ‘ideas’ in lieu of plot.
I thought those people were so wrong, and wondered why they couldn’t see the genre for what it really was.
Richard K. Morgan makes me think those people might have been right.
The childhood accusation is that I was only reading for some kind of gimmick. But those gimmicks were often linked to pretty sophisticated ideas, and with science-fiction you can watch those sophisticated ideas play out like a real to life thought experiment.
That is, if it is done well. Morgan doesn’t do it well.
The discourse of identity is a pretty slippery subject, and the perfect candidate for great science-fiction. Identity could be looked at as something pertaining to your physical body (your identity in relation to others) or the culmination of previous experiences (the consistency of your internal identity). Morgan created a perfect little world to play with these ideas, and then decided to drop it for less interesting things. Why bother thinking of what the implications for individuals and society would really be if a character were ‘double-sleeved’ (one consciousness put into multiple bodies), when you can just end the novel with a 1980’s act of onanism where your super bad-ass character has to fight himself. One wonders why the story really needed to be science-fiction at all, when all it was really striving to be is just a pulpy action story.
It almost felt like he had no idea what could actually be done with the material he gave himself.
In the first two books of the trilogy I have read by Richard K. Morgan there was an awkward, seemingly forced-in-for-fan-service sex scene that was not only rather awful but seemingly pointless for the story’s purpose. In this last edition, the author seemed to pile them on thicker than usual, layering his novel with gratuitous sex scenes. II am unsure what they were meant to add, although he did manage to make them a little more relevant to the plot than in the previous stories. Largely, it seemed to be there solely for the purpose of checking off a box in a pseudo-noir checklist.
Richard K Morgan writes science-fiction so bad that it makes me dislike myself for liking science-fiction.