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Thin Air

by Richard K. Morgan

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Hakan Veil (1)

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2061095,605 (3.75)3
"From the moment Richard K. Morgan's dazzling debut, Altered Carbon, burst onto the scene, it was clear that a distinctive new voice had arrived to shake up science fiction. His subsequent novels--including the sequels Broken Angels and Woken Furies--confirmed him as a master of hard-boiled futuristic thrillers. Now Morgan returns to the world of SF noir with a riveting tale of crime, corruption, and deadly crisis on a planet teetering close to the edge. On a Mars where ruthless commercial interests violently collide with a homegrown independence movement, as Earth-based overlords battle for profits and power, Hakan Veil is an ex-corporate enforcer equipped with military-grade body tech that's made him a human killing machine. But he's had enough of the turbulent red planet, and all he wants is a ticket back home--which is just what he's offered by the Earth Oversight organization, in exchange for being the bodyguard for an EO investigator. It's a beyond-easy gig for a heavy hitter like Veil . . . until it isn't. When Veil's charge, Madison Madekwe, starts looking into the mysterious disappearance of a lottery winner, she stirs up a hornets' nest of intrigue and murder. And the deeper Veil is drawn into the dangerous game being played, the more long-buried secrets claw their way to the Martian surface. Now it's the expert assassin on the wrong end of a lethal weapon--as Veil stands targeted by powerful enemies hellbent on taking him down, by any means necessary"--… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
3.5 stars. I love Morgan's writing style, it's so gritty and dark and there's so much detail you can't help but feel that he's been spying on alternate dimensions or timelines and just copying down events as they happen. This was probably my least favorite of his books so far (and I've read most of them) but still worth a read. I got lost a bit with all the characters and double-dealing going on and felt like the sex scenes got a little gratuitous after a while, but still great sci-fi/noir. ( )
  ragwaine | Jun 12, 2020 |
Wow! To be fair, I have been looking forward to reading more Morgan since the devouring the trilogy that started with Altered Carbon. Wasn't quite sure I wanted to go the fantasy route with him, but his SF?

It's an automatic Hell Yes. I'm a big fan of Cyberpunk and Noir fiction and this has all the same great features (if less technologically advanced) as Altered Carbon. Think Noir disgraced military turned gumshoe but put him firmly on a Mars surrounded by corruption, nasty corporate tricks, and a military takeover in the wings.

In other words, the situation is ripe for a TON of bloodshed. :)

And fortunately, as we go through some pretty awesome plotting, mystery, reversals, I can safely say I had a TON of fun. It WAS a bit cliche with the dames, but let's face it... it IS Noir. And they were not cardboard cutouts at all. Sex sells. Violence, too. This book knows its market. :)

I LOVE the military upgrades. Do computers normally have this much humor? ;)

Cyberpunk rules!!! Morgan is one of my favorites and I think I need to get on the rest of his catalog. :) I'm so glad I finally got to this! What a treat! ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
The only downside to this book for me was that there wasn't more of it. Another killer good novel by my favorite author. If you like Richard K. Morgan's other works, you'll like this too! ( )
  JonOwnbey | May 28, 2020 |
I just finished Richard K. Morgan’s latest release, Thin Air. It is gritty SciFi at its finest. Morgan seems to have leveled up in his writing, over already highly regarded and award-winning previous work. Every sentence is crafted with care. It is a Master Class of immersive third person point of view writing.

I listened to the audiobook version, which was read by Colin Mace, and for me, it was a perfect fit. Mace hit the ball out of the park and became the embodiment of Hakan Veil, the hi-tech ninja of the future and protagonist of what I hope is not a standalone novel. It is a new character and setting of sorts for Morgan. He alludes to his concept of the Mars colony and COLIN (Colony Initiative) in Thirteen, which I have started today. I just downloaded the audiobook.

This story had me riveted from the word go, and didn’t let go. It is the best science fiction I’ve read since Ancillary Justice, which won the Hugo. This work is certainly good enough to be in consideration, but it has very adult themes (read graphic sex.) Morgan has included this with intention and I hope it doesn’t take him out of the running.

There is so much to love about this novel. The characters are real and multifaceted. The description is immersive, but not overdone and the word choices are evocative and graphic, and fit perfectly with the landscape of Mars he has painted. Mars itself is a character all its own. It has a well-developed history and a depth that makes it feel authentic, albeit a true frontier and all that comes with that, 300ish years into a colony development that never quite materialized the way the original planners had envisioned. His simile and metaphor are based on these artifices of an old Martian colony and struck the perfect chord to bring the setting to life. The science parts of the fiction are the essence of cool and seemingly plausible, including the pseudoatmosphere of the lamina, a membrane of sorts that covers the dug out Gash, allowing for a localized breathable atmosphere. The prose is wonderful, especially considering that this is a hard-boiled genre fiction piece, great writing implanted within a ruthless noir fiction story.

Veil is a former Overrider. A last resort corporate security ninja, that is kept on ice in orbit, a sort of ‘break glass in case of emergency’ setup. He has been bred since childhood for this life, adding a backdrop that adds a little sympathy to a character who at times, seems to lack it entirely. He has the ability to stuff all of his humanity into a drawer and do what needs to be done, no matter how hard or how terrible it might be. “The ship must be saved at all costs.” However, something horrible happened on his watch involving important people that forced him out of that life and into one on Mars with no safety net. This is all back-story and is alluded to in snippets but never completely spelled out. There is a flashback scene of his childhood that is heart-wrenching and adds to the depth of his character, if not the empathy we might have for him. He is a hard man to like, but there are moments, glimpses of his wry humor and intelligence, and even warmth for those few that he feels real loyalty for that is enough for me to throw all-in with him. He’s not the world-weary protagonist with the heart of gold. His very nature drives him to violence, but he is smart enough to temper it all with a modicum of self-restraint . . . most of the time.

He has appetites and a real weakness for women that, if not a blind spot, is at least an extremely hazy area in his field of vision. His onboard AI even reminds him of these things over and over but he wants what he wants and does things his own way, damn the torpedoes. More often than not, though, Veil has an instinct to take the right course of action, even when I am wondering why he isn’t more interested in interrogating someone instead of killing them without a second thought. I came to trust his instincts, and figured he had seen enough of the slimy side of life that he knew what he could discard and what he needed to hold onto. He isn’t infallible, but has a knack for survival.

Morgan does a great job of taking an ultra-masculine killer, who is definitely self-absorbed, (who wouldn’t be if you were designed to spend months in hibernation or endless hours alone) and lends him a respect for women and the marginalized, giving them a dignity and power all their own, even if those powers may pale in the light of the deadly skills of the Overrider. All of the main characters have agency, whether they be a strip club dancer or a local cop or corporate thug.

The story is part western, part detective noir but is all parts violent and at times gory. It is generously gratuitive in both violence and explicit sex. The action rarely takes a breath, rocketing constantly forward and all over the settlement of the Gash, from its depths to its borderlands. It kept me guessing who the real bad guys were throughout the story and wondering who Veil could really trust.

The novel has a satisfying ending, that left me wanting more of Hakan Veil and more of the Martian colony that got interrupted for corporate profit. This book spoke to me like the AI incorporated into Veil’s nervous system. Morgan has become one of my favorite authors. I admire his skill as a wordsmith and his imagination. He has given me another high bar to reach for in my own prose. It has inspired me to redouble my efforts to finish the current project and to increase my word count. Go and get this book now! It is published in the US by Del Rey.




( )
  Kardaen | Apr 24, 2020 |
4.5 stars.

Pretty minor spoilers ahead.

I read this in pretty short order. (A week or so.) its long, but fast paced, and as far as I remember, there was basically never a dull moment.

Oddly, the sex scenes were the worst parts for me. They all, with one exception, felt pretty contrived to me. More fantasy than in any way realistic, and lots of sex with folks it was clear the protagonist shouldn’t trust. It’s like he got off on it. Which is an interesting twist, but not (that I could tell) one the author planned intentionally.

The action was overall great. But I never quite understood the rules around hacking. Lots of things could be hacked at a distance. But some things needed touch, ...maybe? There is code in the sky, causing the terraforming, sure, I sort of get that, but there are also genetically modified mosquitoes that deliver updates... even though there is also an internet / cell phone built into this guy’s body..?

Speaking of, the Osiris character wasn’t very flushed out either. Was it sentient, or just sophisticated software? Hard to say. After it’s origin story, I really expected it to pop up a lot more frequently, and felt like there were a bunch of places its presence would have made sense, but it remained quiet. And for as many times as it saved Veil’s ass, he sure told it to shut up a lot. I mean, that I kind of get. There was also one exchange where it was trying to get his attention... to divulge important IMMEDIATELY TACTICALLY RELEVANT information, and Veil ignored it. But why didn’t it just say the information instead of trying to get Veil’s attention and costing valuable seconds in the middle of the firefight? That just felt weird to me.

Overall, i only had minor quibbles. May not sound like it, but I did really enjoy this. Kind of superhero sci-fi, but that’s okay. ( )
  livingtech | Mar 18, 2020 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Richard K. Morganprimary authorall editionscalculated
McGrath, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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"From the moment Richard K. Morgan's dazzling debut, Altered Carbon, burst onto the scene, it was clear that a distinctive new voice had arrived to shake up science fiction. His subsequent novels--including the sequels Broken Angels and Woken Furies--confirmed him as a master of hard-boiled futuristic thrillers. Now Morgan returns to the world of SF noir with a riveting tale of crime, corruption, and deadly crisis on a planet teetering close to the edge. On a Mars where ruthless commercial interests violently collide with a homegrown independence movement, as Earth-based overlords battle for profits and power, Hakan Veil is an ex-corporate enforcer equipped with military-grade body tech that's made him a human killing machine. But he's had enough of the turbulent red planet, and all he wants is a ticket back home--which is just what he's offered by the Earth Oversight organization, in exchange for being the bodyguard for an EO investigator. It's a beyond-easy gig for a heavy hitter like Veil . . . until it isn't. When Veil's charge, Madison Madekwe, starts looking into the mysterious disappearance of a lottery winner, she stirs up a hornets' nest of intrigue and murder. And the deeper Veil is drawn into the dangerous game being played, the more long-buried secrets claw their way to the Martian surface. Now it's the expert assassin on the wrong end of a lethal weapon--as Veil stands targeted by powerful enemies hellbent on taking him down, by any means necessary"--

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