Market Forces
Market Forces is a science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

A novel is a book of long narrative in literary prose. The genre has historical roots both in the fields of the medieval and early modern romance and in the tradition of the novella. The latter supplied the present generic term in the late 18th century....

 by Richard Morgan, first published in 2004.

Set in 2049 in the wake of a global economic downturn called the Domino Recessions, it follows up-and-coming executive Chris as he plunges into the profitable field of Conflict Investment. Major corporation
A corporation is created under the laws of a state as a separate legal entity that has privileges and liabilities that are distinct from those of its members. There are many different forms of corporations, most of which are used to conduct business. Early corporations were established by charter...

s invest in rebel armies, totalitarian dictatorships, freedom fighters, and terrorists
Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition...

 by selling weapons and services in exchange for a percentage of a state's GNP
Gross National Product is the market value of all products and services produced in one year by labor and property supplied by the residents of a country...


The potential for profit is immense, and competition is cut-throat. It's not enough to out-bid a competitor; rival executives joust for the privilege on public roadways via armoured cars or "battle-wagons". This fiercely competitive business model is bloody but effective: surviving executives are by natural selection
Natural selection
Natural selection is the nonrandom process by which biologic traits become either more or less common in a population as a function of differential reproduction of their bearers. It is a key mechanism of evolution....

 more cunning and aggressive than their fallen competitors, and therefore best suited for the job. The practice was born by accident when Chris' boss inadvertently killed a coworker while both were racing to work out of fear that showing up late would result in unemployment.


When Chris Faulkner first arrives at Shorn Associates, he meets and befriends Mike Bryant, a fellow executive. After his initial project, Faulkner works on shoring up an aging Colombian
Colombian people
Colombian people are from a multiethnic Spanish speaking nation in South America called Colombia. Colombians are predominantly Roman Catholic and are a mixture of Europeans, Africans, and Amerindians.-Demography:...

 dictator, General Hernan Echevarria. Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

 is called the North Andean Monitored Economy (NAME) by the conflict investors and other western powers. The Shorn contract is up for renewal and the General is also likely to die soon, leaving his regime in the hands of his son Francisco Echevarria. Initially, Faulkner attempts to get a better deal by playing the regime against several active rebel groups, but ends up actually supporting the Popular Revolutionary Brigade, led by Vincente Barranco, to depose the General. After meeting with Barranco in person, Faulkner becomes convinced that he can both win a revolution and make NAME a better place, as well as making a profit.

Eventually, both the General and Barranco are invited to Shorn headquarters in London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

. Faulkner becomes more convinced that backing Barranco is the correct decision. When Barranco finds out Shorn is playing both sides, Faulkner beats the aging General to death in order to convince him of Shorn's support.

After the killing of the General, elements of Shorn still want to support the regime, with Francisco Echevarria as the General's replacement. The final decision comes down to a duel between Faulkner and Bryant. Faulkner kills Bryant, and the novel concludes with Faulkner informing Francisco Echevarria that he will be executed if he does not leave NAME within 48 hours.


Market Forces makes an oblique reference to Morgan's Altered Carbon
Altered Carbon
Altered Carbon is a hardboiled science fiction novel by Richard K. Morgan. Set some five hundred years in the future in a universe in which the United Nations Protectorate oversees a number of extrasolar planets settled by human beings, it features protagonist Takeshi Kovacs...

. Market Forces's chief protagonist, Chris Faulkner, is offered reading material while temporarily incarcerated. One of the books is "...a luridly violent far-future crime novel about a detective who could seemingly exchange bodies at will, but the subject matter was alien to him and his attention drifted. It all seemed very far-fetched." Which is a summary of Altered Carbon.
The irony here is that Market Forces can be seen as a very early prequel to Altered Carbon, and another Morgan novel, Black Man
Black Man
Black Man is a 2007 science fiction novel by Richard Morgan. It won the 2008 Arthur C Clarke Award. It was published as Thirteen in North America. It is not part of the Takeshi Kovacs universe by the same author....

. Also, Chris Faulkner can be seen as a prototypical version of the main character of Altered Carbon, a corporate samurai with an ethical center at odds with his violent lifestyle.

Awards and nominations

  • Arthur C. Clarke Award
    Arthur C. Clarke Award
    The Arthur C. Clarke Award is a British award given for the best science fiction novel first published in the United Kingdom during the previous year. The award was established with a grant from Arthur C. Clarke and the first prize was awarded in 1987...

     Best Novel nominee 2005
  • John W. Campbell Memorial Award Best Novel winner 2005

External links

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