0 stars IMHO, second only to Market Forces as Morgan s best book and he is one of my favorite authors Winner Arthur C Clarke Award for Best Science Fiction NovelNominee British Science Fiction Award for Best Science Fiction NovelNominee Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel SF thrillers or just regular kind its hard to find someone who writes as good,hardcore noirish thrillers as Morgan He stands out, his action scenes are better than most authors in the same fields He writes about main characters like Carl Marslais who you could never in a million years call a hero and who is a violent, amoral noir protagonist Still he makes seem him human than you would expect He doesnt write simple thriller stories where the good and bad guys are clear.
Something i must really give Richard Morgan credit for is that he wrote about multicultural characters who doesnt look like him Many modern SF i have read have future worlds where it seems most humans you see are white Americans, White europeans That seems alien in todays western world where there are many people like me He dealt with racial issues, religious issues that had to do with his main characters in European,American settings The Black Man title wasnt just for fun.
In this novel the main characters were a black brit, a Turkish woman and there were South American indians, Chinese people etc I respect writers like him for creating SF worlds that is diverse I dont want to read about brown,yellow aliens often than real humans.
Well, I made several discoveries here First I discovered I m deeply grateful that I got this from the library and didn t purchase it Second I discovered that I probably won t be seeking out any other of Mr Morgan s work.
Thirdly I ve discovered that the four letter f word that ends in k f k is apparently Richard K Morgan s favorite word in the entire English language He uses it as a noun, a verb, an adjective, an adverb a participlesometimes a dangling participle It just depends on whether he uses the four letter word unadorned or maybe he changes it by adding an s , or an ed , or an er or maybe an ing Of course sometimes he just adds a second word such as face or head then it becomes a prefix I m not sure it was ever a suffix, but I wouldn t bet against it Now while I give credit to Mr Morgan for his versatility with the word in question I think he might profit from expanding his use vocabulary Just a thought.
There s also several other things about the book that bugged meconstantly But rather than go into all my peeves pet and otherwise I ll simply mention how the plot and the story continues to get lost in all the political and other cometary that makes up the brave new world of the book Every time I got involved in the novel it wandered off on some tangent.
I m sure this is a book some will like as each of us has our own taste and I see good ratings for it Still not something I could get into The idea is a good one and the plot is an excellent idea There were parts that drew me right in The arrival of the ship the 13 stowed away on was very well done It was horrific and set things in motion, but then we wandered off and got a few thousand words on the world and what everyone thinks of everyone else before we actually get back to the plot.
No, not for me and it s turned me away from the writer s other work Can t recommend except for you to see what you yourself think To each.
Total testosterone read Not that this is all bad, of course, because there s plenty going on in the story to try to buck the trend Like the main character, an uber alpha male if there ever was one, thanks to his Thirteen status as an engineered lot designed to do all the things that a pansified world is now unable to do.
Of course, skip ahead a few years and everyone s regretting that decision, setting up all the thirteens for a witch hunt, and what we have now is a noir fiction treat skipping back and forth between Mars and Earth.
I should mention I read Morgan s Thin Air before this one and it doesn t really matter which you start with They re both in the same time frame and setting set up, but different characters and plots although both are quite noir.
I had a good time with this It s longer than a usual mystery novel by a big stretch and we ve got lots of twisty plots to unsnarl usually with a lot of ultraviolence and it is what it is Sharp, snappy, full of overblown Jesusland ignorance, rich people getting away with nutty stuff, and police ish procedural with a side order of romance You know, NOIR I m glad to have read this It hit the spot.
Genre scifi cyberpunkBrainycat s 5 B s boobs 4 blood 4 bombs 2 bondage 1 blasphemy 4Currently listening to Alien Vampires Harshlizer CD2Richard K Morgan has again established himself as one of my very mostest all time favorite authors As a reader, I ve often gone through endless numbers of book descriptions online, or browsed the shelves at bookstores, and felt like nobody is writing a book just for me Sure, there s good or even great books out there that I d enjoy than I ll ever have time to read But even when I m reading a great book that I can really get into, I still have a nagging reservation, a slight cognitive disconnect between myself and the characters in the book What kind of idiot are they Why didn t they do it the other way This guy is a hopeless fool They re are much easier ways to accomplish that goal Carl Marsalis, genetically modified I d say enhanced and trained in soldiering since birth, did not inspire that sort of dissonance with me I get this guy I understand his mental processes He has to explain himself over and over to the normal humans around him why he does the things he does, and each time I feel his frustration The premise of the character is that he s a variant 13 , the result of manipulating the genome to express neural structures and personality traits advantageous to a hunter gather society, but subsequently bred out in the intervening 20000 years of agricultural domestication and raised in an off the record creche remniscent of the movie Soldier Those who know me well will not be the least bit surprised to find me so attracted to Carl I m a big believer in the concept that we, as modern humans, have sold ourselves short We ve paid for our cushy lifestyles with domestication and the yoke of civilization, at the cost of the raw animal passion that sits at the bottom of our brainpans Where once we fought for tribal dominance with cunning, strength and self control, we now blithely hand the reigns of our tribe over to a succession of talking heads who make reassuring noises on cue and in turn to the people who ve inherited the keys to the graineries Two professionals, one a highlevel bureaucrat who works with genemodified populations, the other a detective who runs across them in his work, talk about the nature of the Variant 13 Though this is a software issue we re talking about now, rather than a hardware problem At least to the extent that you can make that distinction when it comes to brain chemistry Anyway, look by all the accounts I ve read, the Project Lawman originators reckoned that variant thirteens would actually have been pretty damn successful in a hunter gatherer context Being big, tough, and violent is an unmitigated plus in those societies You get meat, you get respect, you get women You breed as a result It s only once humans settle down in agricultural communities that these guys start to be a serious problem Why Because they won t fucking do as they re told They won t work in the fields and bring in the harvest for some kleptocratic old bastard with a beard That s when they start to get bred out, because the rest of us, the wimps and conformists, band together under that self same kleptocratic bastard s paternal holy authority, and we go out with our torches and our farming implements, and we exterminate those poor fuckers Where the other books I ve read by Morgan play in the space between then and now, in the gap between what you remember, what other people remember and those intersections today, this book plays in the social space between people and their perceptions of each other in the here and now This is not another frozen caveman wakes up and hilarity ensues story This book takes the old joke Stress is the feeling created when the mind overrides the body s desire the choke the shit out of some asshole who deserves it and treats it with respect, thoughtfullness and integrity Carl is not a neolithic, thoughtless killing machine Like all of Richard s characters, he has depth and breadth that keep this character driven story moving along at a fast clip.
Nature versus nurture is the glaring subtext of this story To this end, prejudice and bigotry play a big part in the dark future of Thirteen On one hand, there s the overt bigotry of jesusland , secessionist southern states and their teaparty agenda writ large In this context, Carl experiences bigotry because of the color of his skin He experiences bigotry because of the years he spent on the Mars colony He experiences legislated bigotry at the hands of various nation states and corporate entities throughout Europe and both north and south america because of his geneprint Carl lifted fingertips to his face, brushed at his cheekbones You see this When you re a variant, people don t look at this They go right through the skin, and all they see is what s written into your double helix The Rim cop shrugged Perhaps you d prefer them to stop at the skin What I hear about the old days, we re both the wrong color for that to be a better option Would you really prefer it the way things were A dose of good old fashioned skin hate At the best of times, he occupies a legal grey area he s able to avoid incarceration or being sent back to Mars because he works as a bounty hunter, licensed to track and capture or kill other 13s who escape from their holding areas The other characters in the story, each of which are extraordinarily well developed, also deal with their own prejudices towards Carl as well their own lives as the object of other people s prejudices.
As I ve come to expect from Richard K Morgan, non white, non male and non straight characters are very well represented in this story It is positively refreshing to see capital s Speculative Fiction finally write stories that actually featrure the people who are likely to populate the world of the future As these characters deal with their relationship to Carl, each other and themselves they each explore the difference between how they believe they should relate to Carl, the world and themselves, and ultimately have to discover for themselves where the line between limbic imperative and imprinted behavior lies Carl has postcoital conversation with a colleague who inherited a geneset called bonobo , designed to make women overtly sexual You know what it feels like, Marsalis Constantly testing your actions against some theory of how you think you might be supposed to behave Wondering, every day at work, every time you make a compromise, every time you back up one of your male colleagues on reflex, wondering whether that s you or the gene code talking A sour smile in Carl s direction Every time you fuck, the guy you chose to fuck with, even the way you fuck him, all the things you do, the things you want to do, the things you want done to you You know what it feels like to question all of that, all the time He nodded Of course I do You just pretty much described where I live Watching each character deal with these identity issues was the real crux of the book for me it resonated deeply in my own experiences with alchoholism.
This is Science Fiction at it s absolute finest It uses the latest information added to the corpus of knowledge we ve accumulated, extrapolates the interesting bits, hurls it full force into geopolitics and wraps it all up in a thrilling story that had me staying up late and foregoing other obligations to read I was utterly engrossed in this book This book shows that Richard is continuing to develop himself as both a writer and a social critic read artist even after the phenomenal achievement of the Takeshi Kovacs series Earlier this year I said about Altered Carbon if you read only one scifi book this year, make sure it s Altered Carbon, but I m going to have to rescind that statement Thirteen is one of those Important Achievements that needs to be read by anyone who has an interest in the human condition, the ability of people to grow and change, and ultimately decide their own fates with whatever cards chance and bioengineering have handed them.
There is one area where Morgan has his writing down to a sharp focus One group is singled out for special attention If you are a member of this group or even sympathetic with it, this book will not be an enjoyable reading experience Like few I have ever run across, Morgan brings contempt dripping with disdain, condescension beyond scorn, hatred suffused with poison for this group If you live in flyover country between the east and west coasts of the US, if you have any religious affinity but especially if you are Christian, if you are Republican or conservative, this author sneers at you Everyone in Jesusland is stupid, irrational, gullible and or criminal Everyone outside Jesusland is wise, intelligent, etc I don t mind if someone lets current political views creep into the story line if it supports the plot Both conservative and liberal authors do it but this guy Morgan has a special hatred for Americans in his targeted group It didn t support the story much because little action occurred there But at every turn, he found a way to insult this targeted group just because he could.
The Future Isn T What It Used To Be Since Richard K Morgan Arrived On The Scene He Unleashed Takeshi Kovacs Private Eye, Soldier Of Fortune, And All Purpose Antihero Into The Body Swapping, Hard Boiled, Urban Jungle Of Tomorrow In Altered Carbon, Broken Angels, And Woken Furies, Winning The Philip K Dick Award In The Process In Market Forces, He Launched Corporate Gladiator Chris Faulkner Into The Brave New Business Of War For Profit Now, In Thirteen, Morgan Radically Reshapes And Recharges Science Fiction Yet Again, With A New And Unforgettable Hero In Carl Marsalis Hybrid, Hired Gun, And A Man Without A Country Or A PlanetMarsalis Is One Of A New Breed Literally Genetically Engineered By The US Government To Embody The Naked Aggression And Primal Survival Skills That Centuries Of Civilization Have Erased From Humankind, Thirteens Were Intended To Be The Ultimate Military Fighting Force The Project Was Scuttled, However, When A Fearful Public Branded The Supersoldiers Dangerous Mutants, Dooming The Thirteens To Forced Exile On Earth S Distant, Desolate Mars Colony But Marsalis Found A Way To Slip Back And Into A Lucrative Living As A Bounty Hunter And Hit Man Before A Police Sting Landed Him In Prison A Fate Worse Than Mars, And Much DangerousLuckily, His Enhanced Life Also Seems To Be A Charmed One A New Chance At Freedom Beckons, Courtesy Of The Government All Marsalis Has To Do Is Use His Superior Skills To Bring In Another Fugitive But This One Is No Common Criminal He S Another Thirteen One Who S Already Shanghaied A Space Shuttle, Butchered Its Crew, And Left A Trail Of Bodies In His Wake On A Bloody Cross Country Spree And Like His Pursuer, He Was Bred To Fight To The Death Still, There S No Question Marsalis Will Take The Job Though It Will Draw Him Deep Into Violence, Treachery, Corruption, And Painful Confrontation With Himself, Anything Is Better Than Remaining A Prisoner The Real Question Is Can He Remain Sane And Alive Long Enough To Succeed St Ed Del Rey Two hundred pages in and great fun This is intelligent science fiction, a look at social and cultural change and geopolitics, all interwoven with 21st century genetics and artificial intelligence It would make a good movie, just the kind my husband would love, lots of action, great visuals and clever plotting Why haven t I read Morgan before Well, I m almost finished this and I have a problem I think there are two books here One is an intriguing proper sci fi novel about an outsider negotiating a possible near future Like the best sci fi, it considers how advances in the physical sciences genetic modification, space exploration, virtual reality systems would dovetail with social changes repressive legislation, the political fracture of the US, a powerful UN type organisation etc to shape our lives And, like the best sci fi, it s relevant to where we are now It s not hard to see how we could get from here to there I d love to read that story Morgan has laid its background, sometimes clumsily, with characters giving each other lectures in history or sociology , but hasn t fleshed it out.
The second book is an action story with lots of posturing tough guys,and two dimensional female characters, cool weapons systems and gratuitous sex It reads like it s meant to be a comic sorry, graphic novel or a Hollywood screenplay There s a huge body count, a photogenic cast, predictable villains, and it even ends with an opening for a sequel, or a spin off story That novel would be fun too, but would only need half the word count of Black Man What we have instead is a not too thrilling thriller.
I feel disappointed I would have preferred the sci fi story, but I wish he had just written one or the other.
Richard Morgan doesn t conceal his source material, intellectual or stylistic His acknowledgments at the beginning of the book are a great jumping off point for exploring some of the themes that Thirteen tackles, and there are plenty of them Stylistically he weaves a noirish blend that owes a great deal to Dick, Gibson and Chandler, and echoes cinematic sources as well as literary The last scenes evoke Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in the slant of the light and the quiet punctuated by brief, seething violence Morgan is a skilled synthesist, and than that as well Every two or three chapters his writing catches fire and precipitates a paragraph or of jewel like prose The plot pivots and curlicues with tight precision, vectoring off into enough ideas to fill three separate books His command of the kinesthetic seizes your gut and hauls you into the center of the dangerous world that he illuminates He maintains suspense to the final pages Ultimately he delivers stinging and startling perspective on what our common humanity and inhumanity is really made of He bases the story on a classic motif the outsider bounty hunter bringing a fellow outsider to justice, in this case a genetic variant throwback to pre civilized humanity equipped with martial adaptations The protagonist supposedly lacks the basic empathies that make our society possible, and exposes the fundamental brutality of that same society when he fails to be the monster he was designed to be Enjoyable as a straight up action novel, Morgan has programmed in subtle barbs that will twist and slice for years to come.