In Altered Carbon, we are introduced into a bleak 25th century where humanity has spread to the stars, technology has advanced leaps and bounds due to the discovery of advanced Martian technology, and most importantly, human consciousness can be downloaded into a cortical stack and transferred from body to body.
Needlecasting from the Earth-centered mystery noir of Altered Carbon, Broken Angels continues the journey of Takeshi Kovacs through the stars and drops him into the middle of a planetary war on Sanction IV where the revolutionary forces of Joshua Kemp have rebelled against Protectorate control. Kovacs, now a lieutenant in the Wedge, a mercenary unit contracted by the Protectorate, is recruited on a new mission which puts his at odds with all sides in the war and throws him straight into one of the greatest archaeological discoveries in the universe, a functional Martian warship.
There are many problems to face along the way. The portal to the ship is located in an active war zone. Others are aware of the discovery and are racing to claim it for themselves using any means necessary to do so. Then there’s the matter of figuring out how to use the Martian technology itself.
Broken Angels takes the established lore of Altered Carbon and further builds upon it in a military science-fiction setting with the intrigue of another mystery. However, it isn’t a case of pro-military hoorah. Broken Angels contains a deeply anti-capitalist, anti-war, and anti-religious message. While it might offend some readers, it fits in perfectly with the dystopian future Morgan created.
While Broken Angels does deliver on all the promises we should expect, it does contain some flaws. With Altered Carbon, the awkward sex scene was relevant to the plot. In Broken Angels, the two awkward sex scenes weren’t justified even if at the end of the book, one of the characters attempts to justify it as a distraction. It felt like padding in a story which didn’t need it considering the wide cast of characters which we are introduced to, get to understand their backgrounds and reason for being on Kovacs’s team, and then inevitably meet their end as fodder. I think the additional word count could have been better spent getting to know them and making the audience care about them more.
Overall, Broken Angels was an entertaining novel which expanded more upon the universe which Morgan created. It goes further down the rabbit hole exploring the philosophies and concepts around the idea of transferred consciousness and how such a technology could ultimately benefit and harm humanity.