Wednesday, February 29, 2012

12.03 The Steel Remains by Richard Morgan

The Steel Remains (2008) by Richard Morgan

I'm a pretty big fan of Richard Morgan's science fiction writing. He walks a fine line between being a populist writer and having some style of his own. Being stuck in the ghetto of science fiction has never helped him sell books though. I was quite surprised to run across this book - the first in a purported trilogy - in which he writes in the fantasy genre.

Morgans hook, if you will, is that he fairly liberally uses sex and violence in his novels. Well in this book he has made his main character explicitly and unapologetically gay. That in and of itself is no big deal but many of the criticisms of the book are that he takes it too far. I had read the reviews beforehand and was somewhat prepared. And actually for about the first 2/3 of the book he handles it quite well. Then there are a couple of scenes that get damn close to porno.

That aside, Morgan has developed a cool world. Ringil is a nearing middle age war hero. His world was invaded by a race of Lizard-Men and only by teaming up with another otherworldly race were they able to beat back the invasion. Ringil lives an easy life sponging off his fading glory. Turns out his mother, a noble, needs him to come back to the city and rescue a kidnapped cousin.

This set up leads ultimately to a conflict with another race bent upon taking over this world. There are a lot of SF tropes underlying this fantasy adventure.

Overall, I liked this book a lot but I would agree with other reviewers in that because Morgan made his hero so non-traditional he felt he had to over do it with the graphic detail. I guess one could argue that if he had detailed hetero sex scenes then there would be far fewer complaints. I think that for the most part he handled that character attribute well - there we just a few missteps.

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