Market Forces

Market Forces

by Richard K. Morgan


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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. . . .

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345457745
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/01/2005
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 524,342
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Richard K. Morgan is the acclaimed author of The Cold Commands, The Steel Remains, Thirteen, Woken Furies, Market Forces, Broken Angels, and Altered Carbon, a New York Times Notable Book that also won the Philip K. Dick Award in 2003. The movie rights to Altered Carbon were optioned by Joel Silver and Warner Bros on publication, and a film version is currently in development with Mythology Entertainment. Market Forces was also optioned to Warner Bros, before it was even published, and it won the John W. Campbell Award in 2005. Thirteen won the Arthur C. Clarke Award in 2007 and is currently under movie option to Straight Up films. The Steel Remains won the Gaylactic Spectrum Award in 2010, and its sequel, The Cold Commands, appeared in both Kirkus Reviews’ and NPR’s Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Books of the Year lists. Morgan is a fluent Spanish speaker and has lived and worked in Madrid, Istanbul, Ankara, and London, as well as having traveled extensively in the Americas, Africa, and Australia. He now lives in Scotland with his wife, Virginia, and son, Daniel.

Read an Excerpt

Market Forces

By Richard Morgan

Random House

Richard Morgan
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0345457765

Chapter One


Jackknifed there in sweat.

Fragments of the dream still pinning his breath in his throat and his face into the pillow, mind reeling in the darkened room . . .

Reality settled over him like a fresh sheet. He was home.

He heaved a shuddering sigh and groped for the glass of water beside the bed. In the dream he'd been falling to and then through the tiles of the supermarket floor.

On the other side of the bed Carla stirred and laid a hand on him.


" 'S okay. Dream." He gulped from the glass. "Bad dream, 's all."

"Murcheson again?"

He paused, peculiarly unwilling to correct her assumption. He didn't dream about Murcheson's screaming death much anymore. He shivered a little. Carla sighed and pulled herself closer to him. She took his hand and pressed it onto one full breast.

"My father would just love this. Deep stirrings of conscience. He's always said you haven't got one."

"Right." Chris lifted the alarm clock and focused on it. Three twenty. Just perfect. He knew he wouldn't get back to sleep for a while. Just fucking perfect. He flopped back, immobile. "Your father has convenient amnesia when it comes to clearing the rent."

"Money talks. Why'd you think I married you?"

He rolled his head and butted her gently on the nose. "Are you taking thepiss out of me?"

For answer she reached down for his prick and rolled it through her fingers. "No. I'm winding you up," she whispered.

As they drew together he felt the hot gust of desire for her blowing out the dream, but he was slow to harden under her hand. It was only in the final throes of climax that he finally let go.


It was raining when the alarm sounded. Soft hiss outside the open window like an untuned TV at very low volume. He snapped off the bleeper, lay listening to the rain for a few moments, and then slid out of the bed without waking Carla.

In the kitchen he set up the coffee machine, ducked into the shower, and got out in time to steam milk for Carla's cappuccino. He delivered it to her bedside, kissed her awake, and pointed it out. She'd probably drift off to sleep again and drink it cold when she finally got up. He lifted clothes from the wardrobe--plain white shirt, one of the dark Italian suits, the Argentine leather shoes. He took them downstairs.

Dressed but untied, he carried his own double espresso into the living room with a slice of toast to watch the seven o'clock bulletins. There was, as usual, a lot of detailed foreign commentary, and it was time to go before the Promotions & Appointments spot rolled around. He shrugged, killed the TV, and only remembered to knot his tie when he caught himself in the hall mirror. Carla was just making awake noises as he slipped out of the front door and disabled the alarms on the Saab.

He stood in the light rain for a long moment, looking at the car. Soft beads of water glistening on the cold gray metal. Finally, he grinned.

"Conflict Investment, here we come," he muttered, and got in.

He got the bulletins on the radio. They started Promotions & Appointments as he hit the Elsenham junction ramp. Liz Linshaw's husky tones, just a touch of the cordoned zones to roughen up the otherwise cultured voice. On TV she dressed like a cross between a government arbitrator and a catered-party exotic dancer, and in the last two years she had graced the pages of every men's lifestyle magazine on the rack. The discerning exec's wet dream and by popular acclaim the AM ratings queen of the nation.

"--very few challenges on the roads this week," she told him huskily. "The Congo bid play-off we've all been waiting on is postponed till next week. You can blame the weather forecasts for that, though it looks from my window as if those guys have blown it again. There's less rain coming down than we had for Saunders/Nakamura. Still nothing on the no-name orbital call out for Mike Bryant at Shorn Associates, don't know where you've got to, Mike, but if you can hear me we're anxious to hear from you. And so to new appointments this week--Jeremy Tealby makes partner at Collister Maclean, I think we've all seen that coming for a long time now; and Carol Dexter upgrades to senior market overseer for Mariner Sketch following her spectacular performance last week against Roger Inglis. Now back to Shorn again for word of a strong newcomer in the Conflict Investment division--"

Chris's eyes flickered from the road to the radio. He touched up the volume a notch.

"--Christopher Faulkner, headhunted from investment giants Hammett McColl where he's already made a name for himself in Emerging Markets. Regular Prom and App followers may recall Chris's remarkable string of successes at Hammett McColl, commencing with the swift elimination of rival Edward Quain, an exec some twenty years his senior at the time. Vindication of the move came rapidly when--" Excitement ran an abrupt slice into her voice: "Oh, and this just in from our helicopter team. The no-name call out on Mike Bryant has broken, with two of the challengers down past junction twenty-two and the third signaling a withdrawal. Bryant's vehicle has apparently sustained minimal damage, and he's on his way in now. We'll have in-depth coverage and an exclusive interview for the lunchtime edition. Looks like the start of a good week for Shorn Associates, then, and I'm afraid that's all we've got time for this morning, so back to the Current Affairs desk. Paul."

"Thank you, Liz. First up, the falling rates of production in the manufacturing sector threaten a further ten thousand jobs across the NAFTA territories, according to an analysis by the Glasgow-based Independent News Group. A Trade and Finance Commission spokesman has called the report 'subversively negative.' More on the--"

Chris tuned it out, vaguely annoyed that Bryant's no-name scuffle had knocked his name off Liz Linshaw's crimson lips. The rain had stopped, and his wipers were beginning to squeak. He switched them off and shot a glance at the dashboard clock. He was still running early.

The proximity alarm chimed.

He caught the accelerating shape in the otherwise deserted rearview and slewed reflexively right. Into the next lane, brake back. As the other vehicle drew level, he relaxed. The car was battered and primer-painted in mottled tan, custom-built like his own but not by anyone who had any clue about road raging. Heavy steel barbs welded onto the front fenders, bulky external armoring folded around the front wheels and jutting back to the doors. The rear wheels were broad-tired to provide some maneuvering stability, but it was still clear from the way the car moved that it was carrying far too much weight.


Like fifteen-year-old cordoned-zone thugs, they were often the most dangerous because they had the most to prove, the least to lose. The other driver was hidden behind a slat-protected side window, but Chris could see movement. He thought he made out the glimmer of a pale face. Along the car's flank flashed the driver number in luminous yellow paint. He sighed and reached for the comset.

"Driver Control," said an anonymous male voice.

"This is Chris Faulkner of Shorn Associates, driver clearance 260B354R, inbound on M11 past junction ten. I have a possible no-name challenger number X23657."

"Checking. A moment please."

Chris began to build his speed, gradually so that the no-namer would soak up the acceleration without tripping into fight mode. By the time the controller came back on, they were pacing each other at about 140 kilometers an hour.

"That's confirmed, Faulkner. Your challenger is Simon Fletcher, freelance legal analyst."

Chris grunted. Unemployed lawyer.

"Challenge filed at 8:04. There's a bulk transporter in the slow lane passing junction eight, automated. Heavy load. Otherwise no traffic. You are cleared to proceed."

Chris floored it.

He made a full car length and slewed back in front of the other vehicle, forcing Fletcher to a split-second decision. Ram or brake. The tan car dropped away, and Chris smiled a little. The brake reflex was instinctive. You had to have a whole different set of responses drilled into you before you could switch it off. After all, Fletcher should have wanted to ram him. It was a standard duel tactic. Instead, his instincts had gotten the better of him.

This isn't going to last long.

The lawyer accelerated again, closing. Chris let him get within about a meter of his rear fender, then hauled out and braked. The other car shot ahead and Chris tucked in behind.

Junction eight flashed past. Inside the London orbital now, almost into the zones. Chris calculated the distance to the underpass, nudged forward, and tapped at Fletcher's rear. The lawyer shot away from the contact. Chris checked his speed display and upped it. Another tap. Another forward flinch. The automated haulage transport appeared like a monstrous metal caterpillar, ballooned in the slow lane, and then dropped behind just as rapidly. The underpass came into sight. Concrete yellowed with age, stained with faded graffiti that predated the five-meter exclusion fencing. The fence stuck up over the parapet, topped with springy rolls of razor wire. Chris had heard it carried killing voltage.

He gave Fletcher another shove and then slowed to let him dive into the tunnel like a spooked rabbit. A couple of seconds of gentle braking, then accelerate again and in after him.

Shutdown time.

Beneath the weight of the tunnel's roof, things were different. Yellow lights above, two tip-to-tail rows of them like tracer fire along the ceiling. Ghostly white emergency exit signs at intervals along the walls. No breakdown lane, just a scuffed and broken line to mark the edge of the metaled road and a thin concrete path for maintenance workers. A sudden first-person-viewpoint arcade game. Enhanced sense of speed, fear of wall impact and dark.

Chris found Fletcher and closed. The lawyer was rattled--telegraphed clearly in the jerky way the car was handling. Chris took a wide swing out into the other lanes so that he'd disappear from Fletcher's rearview mirror and matched velocities dead level. One hundred and forty on the speedo again--both cars were running dead level, and the underpass was only eight kilometers long. Make it quick. Chris closed the gap between the two cars by a meter, flicked on his interior light, and, leaning across to the passenger-side window, raised one hand in stiff farewell. With the light on, Fletcher couldn't fail to see it. He held the pose for a long moment, then snapped the hand into a closed fist with the thumb pointing down. At the same time, he slewed the car one-handed across the intervening lane.

The results were gratifying.

Fletcher must have been watching the farewell gesture, not the road ahead, and he forgot where he was. He jerked his car aside, pulled too far, and broadsided the wall in a shower of sparks. The primer-painted car staggered drunkenly, raked fire off the concrete once more, and bounced away in Chris's wake, tires shrieking. Chris watched in the mirror as the lawyer braked his vehicle to a sprawling halt sideways across two lanes. He grinned and slowed to about fifty, waiting to see if Fletcher would pick up the challenge again. The other car showed no sign of restarting. It was still stationary when he hit the upward incline at the far end of the underpass and lost sight of it.

"Wise man," he murmured to himself.

He emerged from the tunnel into an unexpected patch of sunlight. The road vaulted, climbing onto a long raised curve that swept in over the expanses of zoneland and angled toward the cluster of towers at the heart of the city. Sunlight struck down in selective rays. The towers gleamed.

He accelerated into the curve.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Excerpted from Market Forces by Richard Morgan Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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"Simon Vance performs the work with the perfect amount of flexibility to make the listener empathize with a cadre of corporate killers. And even root for them." —-AudioFile

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Market Forces 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I will attempt to avoid the more political aspects of this novel, as some reviewers here have focussed on, and instead try to approach it as a Richard K. Morgan thriller, pure and simple. As a reader of his Takeshi Kovacs sci-noir novels, I was approaching this book as a welcome change of pace from the 25th Century and quite looking forward to it. I was a little chagrined to see that, unlike the abrupt change of genre William Gibson took in 'Pattern Recognition,' Morgan still based his new novel in a late-21st Century setting, vaguely recognizable but still different. Disappointed in this, and not at all pleased at seeing Morgan (self-admittedly) wear the influences of 'Rollerball' and 'Mad Max' on his sleeve, I very much adopted a 'who cares?' attitude towards this book and was frankly tired of Morgan's anti-laissez-faire-capitalism stance by the first third or so of the story. Also, Chris Faulkner's marital problems and full-blown plunging into the decadence of corporate life at Shorn Associates seemed very out of character for him and, though vital to an appreciation of Faulkner's motivations, especially in the latter stages of the story, was not at all well-explained. Nevertheless, the further time you spend with the story, the more you realize that, just as happens with Chris Faulkner, the manic pace of this period's corporate society will indeed confuse and bewilder you much as it does Faulkner. There is still so much that is a cipher in this book -- frankly, I cannot believe that even mega-corporations will ever be allowed to suspend civil liberties in their respective nations, much less the Third World, to the extent seen in 'Market Forces.' Nor, frankly, does Morgan provide a compelling reason why this in fact happened in his story. In this fashion, while not as severely, Morgan falls into the same trap with his world-building as George Orwell did in '1984:' namely, the macrocosmic situation serves merely to service the plot and does not really stand up to scrutiny. However, again as with '1984,' by the time you get to the final third of 'Market Forces,' you won't mind too much, as Morgan ramps up the action and emotions quite well, in a totally believable fashion that makes you wonder, frankly, just HOW anti-corporation Morgan truly is. In the end, 'Market Forces,' while still nowhere near Morgan's best Takeshi Kovacs effort, is a satisfying novel.
crazybatcow on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There is a social commentary underpinning here that detracts from the action; the author seems to have tried to write an action book that had a "moral" - two things that normally don't go very well together. It nearly works although the moralistic part got a bit heavy handed at some points.The sex (while still R rated) is pretty tame compared to the Altered Carbon series (X rated sex). The violence is also very graphic, and sometimes it goes on a little too long so that you get tired of all the dozens of ways they are maiming or killing someone. Overall, it's not as good as Thirteen or Altered Carbon, but it was engaging enough to finish with only minor skimming after the 185th scene of blood n' guts.
B3agleboy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The author's points of the devolution of power from governments to corporations has a dreadful outcome for most people and how corporations erode the moral center of the individual are interesting. The concept of Conflict Investing (investors via corporations funding sides in a war for profit rather than for a government's agenda) is intriguing. However, the characters were not as well developed as I would have liked, the ending was a bit dissatisfying, and the concept of job promotion through car combat was ludicrous.If you haven't read any of Richard K. Morgan's books, read Altered Carbon (his first and best book so far). Do not read this one unless you are already a fan.
clarient on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I could just not get into this book. I had a hard time empathizing with the characters and it was a struggle to find their surroundings believable. I lost interest barely a quarter of the way in and in the end put it down for something different.
jshrop on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Market Forces by Richard Morgan is set in an apocalyptic world, and a far departure from the settings he created and nourished through the Takeshi Kovacs series of novels. Market Forces tells the story of corporate finance executives that take to the street in sanctioned death matches for promotions and competitve trenderings. The winner gets the job, or brings home the big contract for their firm; and the loser, well, is dead.I have mixed feelings about Market Forces. The concept is the most far fetched to date in terms of testing the limits of morality and what people might be made to believe in the wake of a huge financial market crash and depression. I must give Morgan points for his creativity, and the level to which he has developed this new environment. Having said that, I struggled throughout the book to stay with the frame of perception, but it was too absurd to comprehend what could even go wrong in this society to send it so far off even the most battered moral compass. Morgan plays with a similar theme much better in the novel he wrote following this one, Thirteen, where science has reengineered variants of the human species to remove the agrarian, civilized conditioning. This leaves the hunter instinct as most prominent in these genetic modifications and Morgan plays on how society acts to ban their assimilation. While thirteen makes you think deeper about what traits make good social interactions and what we call civilized behavior, market forces often leaves you scratching your head thinking, man what a screwed up world with little hope of improvement this is. It is a struggle to stay in-tune with the main character, Chris Faulkner, a young executive with a prominent kill to his name, when he goes so far off the rails, and learns nothing from his reflection on himself. He pisses away everything he used to love and care about and when you think he might just get back on track with a moment of clarity, it quickly vanishes and he draws himself further and further into the dark recesses of his own hypocracy. There was very little I took from this novel, and was somewhat dissapointed, with Morgan coming off of the great action and stoylines that he created for Taskeshi Kovacs. I must give him all the credit in the world with the creativity for inventing such a far-fetched world, but in the end, I hated almost every character that he introduced. I felt that even the main character was not well developed enough to really have any insight to what is going on with this guy, and was taken aback by the ridiculousness of such a far fetched society, where corporate investment firms foster killing to move up the ladder.
Shrike58 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This story is "Mad Max" meets "Wall Street," as anti-hero Chris Faulkner works at making his bones at the new firm, where the failures leave boots first. I liked it, but not as much as the Takeshi Kovacs novels; let's just say that it's always hard to read about how a man liquidates everything in his spirit that makes him human, even if he is basically a thug.As satire, call it an effective challenge to the buttoned-down shirt crowd who think that they are oh so tough. This is not to mention that the plot would make a good British gangster movie.
NativeRoses on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The City of London goes cyberpunk in this follow-up to the very imaginative "Altered Carbon". While some of this may seem like warmed-over Gibson, the road rage alone is worth the read.
grizzly.anderson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Market Forces is not, in any way, a Takeshi Kovacs novel. The only science fiction element is that it is set in the indeterminate, but not too far, future. The setting is all on Earth, mostly in and around London, with cars and guns and global politics, economics, and nasty little wars. Where the Kovacs novels are Noir, and Kovacs is sort of a dystopian hero, Market Forces is a brutal satire of the jovial capitalist buddy-movie (anything you've ever seen that featured a good-hearted investment banker) - maybe a dyscapitalist story.The story is set in the world of the executives of a major investment house, specifically that Conflict Investment group, which specializes in funding & profiting from third world brush wars. In this London, only the few can even afford to license or fuel a car, and competition within and among businesses for promotions or contracts or whatever is handled by automotive duels to the death.Morgan's writing is as good as ever. His characters all have lives and stories, hard as they may be to empathize with, and they entirely inhabit the world they are in. But I just couldn't bring my self to *like* any of them. Not one. I hated them all, and the world they live in and what they stood for. If I'd actually met them, I probably would have felt the need to take a shower after.The story flows, and the world entirely makes sense, both on its own merits and as a place you can imagine getting to from here without too much trouble. It will keep you involved, and it will probably make you think, at least a little. But by the end, I would far rather some cataclysmic war leave the whole thing for the apes than see any of the characters succeed, or even just go on. But then maybe that's the point of this sort of cautionary tale.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*waalks up to the girl* I heard you wanted to be a se.x slve
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