Richard K. Morgan

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Richard K. Morgan
Morgan in Zagreb at SFeraKon, 2008
Morgan in Zagreb at SFeraKon, 2008
BornRichard Kingsley Morgan
24 September 1965 (1965-09-24) (age 58)
London, England
GenreHardboiled, postcyberpunk, Science fiction, fantasy
SpouseVirginia Gema Cottinelli-Herrero
ChildrenDaniel Morgan Cottinelli
ParentsJohn Morgan (father), Margaret Morgan (mother)
Website Edit this at Wikidata

Richard Kingsley Morgan, (born 24 September 1965 in Norwich) is a British science fiction and fantasy author of books, short stories, and graphic novels. He is the winner of the Philip K. Dick Award for his 2003 book Altered Carbon,[1] which was adapted into a Netflix series released in 2018.[2] His third book, Market Forces, won the John W. Campbell Award in 2005,[3] while his 2008 work Thirteen garnered him the Arthur C. Clarke Award.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Morgan was born in Norfolk, and brought up in the village of Hethersett, near Norwich, and had a semi-rural upbringing. He attended private school and later studied modern languages and history at Queens' College, Cambridge.[5] After graduating he started teaching English in order to travel the world. After 14 years and a post at the University of Strathclyde, his first novel was published and he became a full-time writer. He lived in Glasgow until 2015, when he moved to Saxlingham Nethergate with his wife Virginia and their son Daniel.[6]

Literary career[edit]

In 2002, Morgan's first novel Altered Carbon was published, combining elements of cyberpunk and hardboiled detective fiction and featuring the antihero Takeshi Kovacs. In 2003 the U.S. edition of Altered Carbon received the Philip K. Dick Award and the film rights were sold for a reported figure of $1,000,000 to film producer Joel Silver, enabling Morgan to become a full-time writer.[7] The film rights were later acquired by Laeta Kalogridis, but production was trapped in development hell for a decade, eventually gaining release in 2018 as a Netflix series.[8]

In 2003, Broken Angels was published, the sequel to Altered Carbon, again featuring Takeshi Kovacs and blending science fiction and war fiction in a similar way to his cross-genre début. The success of this book solidified his literary reputation.[7]

Market Forces, Morgan's first non-Kovacs novel, is set in the near future.[7] It was originally written as a short story, then as a screenplay (both unpublished). After the success of his first two works, it was released as a novel and optioned as a film.

Morgan's third Kovacs novel, intended as the final novel in the series,[9] Woken Furies, was released in the UK in March 2005 and in the U.S. in September 2005. In this novel, the Takeshi Kovacs character comes into his own as a hero, not merely a long-black-coat clad, boilerplate antihero.[10]

Morgan wrote two six-issue miniseries for Marvel Comics under the Marvel Knights imprint. His first story, Black Widow: Homecoming published monthly in 2004 was followed by a second, Black Widow: The Things They Say About Her published monthly in 2005; both are available in collected editions. According to Morgan's official website the series was "an artefact of limited appeal" and is unlikely to be continued, although he has other comic projects in development.

Black Man was released in May 2007 in the UK and in June 2007 in the United States (as Thirteen or Th1rte3n). Later UK editions were published with the Thirteen title. According to the author, the book is about the constraints of physicality and the idea that people are locked into who they are. These are things he could not deal with in the Kovacs universe, because for Kovacs and people like him mortality is avoidable: they just skip into a new body.[11] The novel won the 2008 Arthur C. Clarke Award.

Morgan wrote a fantasy trilogy with a gay protagonist, A Land Fit for Heroes, the first volume of which has the title The Steel Remains and was published in August 2008 in the UK[12] and on 20 January 2009 in the United States.[13] The second volume, titled The Cold Commands was published in 2011. The third book in the series is called The Dark Defiles and was published on 17 August 2014.[14]

Liber Primus Games is creating a gamebook series based on the A Land Fit For Heroes trilogy. The first game was published for Android, Apple and Amazon Kindle Fire devices on 4 November 2015. The release of the PC game was announced in May 2016.[15]

In 2008, he worked with Starbreeze as a writer for Syndicate, the 2012 re-imagining of the 1992 video game.[16] Additionally, Morgan worked with Electronic Arts and Crytek as lead writer for their 2011 video game, Crysis 2.

In October 2018, Morgan's science fiction novel, Thin Air, was published in the UK by Gollancz.[17]

In an interview before the launch of Thin Air, Morgan described a common feature of his works:

There is a central conceit that I keep — not consciously, I swear! — returning to in my work. It takes different metaphorical guises, but at root it’s always the same sense of something grand and worthwhile being abandoned by vicious and stupid men in favour of short-term profit and tribal hegemony. You see it in the regressive politics of the Protectorate in the Kovacs novels, the way both the Yhelteth Empire and the — so-called — Free Cities fail their duty as civilisations in A Land Fit for Heroes. So also with Thin Air — the landscape is littered with the markers of a retreat from the grand scheme of terraforming and building a home for humanity on Mars, in favour of an ultraprofitable corporate stasis and an ongoing lie of highly emotive intangibles sold to the general populace in lieu of actual progress.[18]

A graphic novel titled Altered Carbon: Download Blues, which continues to follow the character Takeshi Kovacs, was released in July 2019.

An animated feature entitled Altered Carbon: Resleeved was released in 2020 on Netflix.

Morgan's books are generally set in a post-extropianist dystopian world. Morgan described his "takeaway" of one of his books as:

Society is, always has been and always will be a structure for the exploitation and oppression of the majority through systems of political force dictated by an élite, enforced by thugs, uniformed or not, and upheld by a wilful ignorance and stupidity on the part of the majority whom the system oppresses.[19]


Takeshi Kovacs novels[edit]

  • Altered Carbon (2002) ISBN 0-575-07390-X
  • Broken Angels (2003) ISBN 0-575-07550-3
  • Woken Furies (2005) ISBN 0-575-07325-X

A Land Fit For Heroes[edit]

Black Man novels[edit]

Other novels[edit]

Graphic novels[edit]

Video games[edit]


  • "Woken Furies" from the album Dark All Day by Gunship (2018)


  1. ^ "2003 Philip K. Dick Award Winner". Philip K. Dick Award. The Philadelphia Science Fiction Society. 6 April 2004. Retrieved 27 July 2021. ALTERED CARBON by Richard K. Morgan (Del Rey Books)
  2. ^ Wagmeister, Elizabeth (20 January 2016). "Netflix orders sci-fi drama based on Altered Carbon". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 5 December 2017. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  3. ^ "Astounding Award for Best New Writer (John W. Campbell Award)". Science Fiction Book Reviews. SFBook. April 2005. Retrieved 27 July 2021. 2005 - Market Forces by Richard Morgan [sic]
  4. ^ "Arthur C. Clarke Award: Winners". Arthur C. Clarke Award. Serendip Foundation. July 2008. Retrieved 27 July 2021. Thirteen – Richard Morgan – WINNER 2008
  5. ^ Elliott, Tim (15 October 2011). "Interview: Richard Morgan". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 25 May 2020.(subscription required)
  6. ^ "Meet the Norfolk author behind Netflix's biggest new series". Eastern Daily Press. 18 February 2018.
  7. ^ a b c Leonard, Andrew (10 April 2005). "'Market Forces': The Office". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  8. ^ Hibberd, James (4 December 2017). "Altered Carbon: First teaser trailer for stunning Netflix sci-fi series". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  9. ^ "Interview with Richard Morgan". IT Conversations. 16 August 2005.
  10. ^ Wagner, Thomas M. "Woken Furies / Richard K. Morgan". SF and Fantasy Book Reviews. Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  11. ^ Gunn, Moira. "Tech Nation". Your Mom's Basement. Archived from the original on 4 August 2009.
  12. ^ "The Steel Remains". Richard Morgan's website. Archived from the original on 17 September 2011. Retrieved 8 September 2011.
  13. ^ Morgan, Richard K. (2009). The Steel Remains (Hardcover). ISBN 978-0345493033.
  14. ^ a b "Richard K Morgan - The Dark Defiles early cover art revealed". Gollancz Limited. Archived from the original on 24 December 2012. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
  15. ^ "Liber Primus Games and Gollancz Announce A Land Fit For Heroes Fantasy Adventure Game-Book Now Available on Windows PC for Steam". 19 May 2016. Retrieved 31 July 2020.
  16. ^ Plant, Michael (22 March 2012). "Interview: Richard Morgan on rebooting Syndicate". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 10 September 2017.
  17. ^ Morgan, Richard (2018). Thin Air. U.K.: Gollancz. ISBN 9780575075146.
  18. ^ Sara Martín Alegre (2018). "Martian Politics and the Hard-Boiled Anti-Hero: Richard Morgan's Thin Air" (PDF). Revista Hélice. 4 (11): 84–95. Archived (PDF) from the original on 4 February 2019. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  19. ^ Morgan discussing his "take away" of his novel Altered Carbon, in "Never Mind the Cyberpunks: An Interview with Richard Morgan" Archived 26 April 2016 at the Wayback Machine, Originally published online at, 2002.

External links[edit]


Preceded by Philip K. Dick Award
for Altered Carbon
Succeeded by
Preceded by John W. Campbell Memorial Award
for Best Science Fiction Novel

for Market Forces
Succeeded by
Preceded by Arthur C. Clarke Award
for Black Man
Succeeded by