Read Thirteen by Richard K. Morgan Online

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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 gladThe 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 planet. Marsalis is one of a new breed. Literally. Genetically engineered by the U.S. 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 more dangerous. Luckily, 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?From the Hardcover edition....

Title : Thirteen
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780345480897
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 564 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Thirteen Reviews

  • Justin
    2018-09-23 21:11

    Richard K. Morgan is kind of hot shit in the sci-fi world these days, but this book does not demonstrate why. At 550 pages, it's a ridiculously long thriller wrapped in a shroud of William Gibson-esque cyperpunk. Morgan has a lot of interesting ideas about human genetic modification in the future, and how it all ties into the political intrigue of the time, but his actual plot, at least in this book, is an overly complicated murder mystery that fails to pay off in any way whatsoever. The main character, a modified "thirteen" with incredible killing powers, is cool enough at first, but becomes quickly unlikable as he proceeds to slaughter human after human, both good and bad. The book is a stylized, tough, crime thriller in a sci-fi setting, which would have been cool had it had any likable characters, or a story that didn't completely bore me. Even at close to 600 pages Morgan can't find a way to explain what is going on until the last 50 pages, when major characters sit in a room and engage in agonizing dialog that serves no other function than revealing backstory. The rest of the book is spent watching the main character and his crime-bustin' allies wander from one part of the world to another, figuring out very little and occasionally participating in fairly cool action scenes. Morgan seems smart enough, but this book is incredibly, unnecessarily indulgent, with the most egregious example being the THREE-PAGE scene describing the Thirteen titty-humping his love interest in a back alley. I'm all for a good titty-hump, don't get me wrong, but a Hustler-style recap of one isn't a good way to legitimize a sci-fi novel that otherwise takes itself very, very seriously.

  • Mohammed
    2018-09-27 00:18

    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 more 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 more for creating SF worlds that is more diverse. I dont want to read about brown,yellow aliens more often than real humans.......

  • Stephen
    2018-10-11 02:25

    6.0 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

  • Mike (the Paladin)
    2018-09-26 02:07

    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 participle...sometimes 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 me...constantly. 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 more 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.

  • Liviu Szoke
    2018-09-25 22:33

    I don't particularly enjoy the cyberpunk subgenre and I was worried when I saw that the book (the romanian edition, at least) has more than 800 pages. But this book it is not only with cybernetworks, virtual realities and so. No, it is gritty, violent, sad, has depth, characters, commentaries (about politics, about history, about media and so on), and everything you can ask from a good book. Although the pace it is quite slow sometimes and the author forgets that this is fiction, overall the reading it's absolutely delightful. More, here: https://fansf.wordpress.com/2015/10/2....

  • Brainycat
    2018-10-06 02:16

    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 more '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 more meat, you get more respect, you get more women. You breed more 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 more 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.

  • fo jammi
    2018-09-21 01:12

    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 more than that as well. Every two or three chapters his writing catches fire and precipitates a paragraph or more 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.

  • Hazel
    2018-10-09 21:04

    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 more 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.

  • Rachel (Kalanadi)
    2018-10-01 22:26

    A violent sci fi thriller, an enhanced super soldier on the hunt for another of his kind who is killing people. Good subject matter for a thriller, but too slow to sustain the tension or excitement. This is aimed at a certain audience - and I'm not a member. A high body count, lots of blood and gore flying, and random sex. I didn't mind the politics or philosophizing, since that was actually more interesting to me than the killing machine dudes, but this was just too long. People started repeating themselves, the same conversation would happen over and over, and scenes would go on for ages, sucking the last emotion out until it was dry as a bone.

  • Chloe
    2018-09-18 01:27

    Carl Marsalis is not a lucky man. A genetic variant, the thirteenth result of humankind's tinkering with their own DNA, Carl is engineered to be the perfect soldier. He's cold, emotionless, able to shunt away knowledge of pain and avoid human concepts like community and dependence. He and his kind were very good at what they were designed for, a little too good according to the humans they supposedly protected. So, once peace again descended on this 22nd Century globe, the Thirteens were offered the option of either relocating to the foundering penal colony of Mars or spending the remnants of their lives in high-security prisons.These days it's Carl's job to catch Thirteens that escape their captivity and are either trying to make it to Mars or just disappear into a jungle somewhere. It's not a job that Carl particularly enjoys, even when you're bred to have no attachment to blood ties it still feels like a Judas kiss to send so many of his same models back to prison, but such are the exigencies of life- you've got to do what you can to get by. It is this theme, among the many that Morgan tries on, that resonates after finishing the book, that humans are more than the genetic wiring we have within us. An unaltered human can be just as capable (if not more so) of treachery, deceit and the vilest barbarity as a lab-created human with a penchant for violence. The Thirteens are humankind's boogieman, the creature that goes bump in the night, yet again and again their savagery is trumped by that of the humans hunting them. There's a message there, but I'd rather Morgan beat you about the head with it rather than myself.It's always refreshing to revisit Morgan's particularly dire futures, whether with Carl Marsalis or Takeshi Kovacs, the hero of Morgan's absolutely stellar Altered Carbon. While definitely skilled at depicting the grime and muck of a dirty street future, it is the politicking and intrigue of the upper crust here that grabs the reader's fancy. Negotiating the byzantines paths of power between the Colony bureacrats, the UN and the fractured former states of America (conveniently split into the Pacific Rim States, Jesusland and the Union) is a headache that nearly requires a line graph to understand, but which delightfully reinforces humanity's unceasing love of complexity and power structures.At times the book comes across a little clunky, there are some leaps of logic that don't make sense and some characters are really just stock filler, but it's still fun and an appealing way to kill some time at the beach.

  • Greg
    2018-10-03 22:21

    This was ok, it had some interesting ideas about what it means to be human, and an especially bleak look at our possible future, but besides that the book was very predictable, even when it was throwing in big plot curve balls. For all the convoluted twist and turns the book is essentially an action / adventure story in the vein of something like the Penetrator. A big guy who women can't keep their hands off of goes around and kills all the bad guys that get in the way between him and his righteous aims. Throw in an arsenal of toys that make him invincible, but which are confusing in their placement (spoiler? I mean if you can have a foolproof bulletproof gene clothing (seen at the end of the novel) why not wear one all the time? And why don't the agents from the very rich COLIN group have them? And why don't the other Thirteen's (variant humans, that have been genetically predisposed towards alpha alpha male behavior and violence) have this Mesh thing that seems to make the main character a cross between Daredevil and Superman? Wouldn't others be able to get this stuff, what makes the main character so special? It felt too much like in the 1960's Adam West Batman movie when the shark is holding on to Batman's leg that he happens to have a big can of something called "Bat Shark Repellent" on his utility belt, something which in all of the Pow! and Bam! fights before and after is never there getting in his way.). The author also got under my skin towards the end of the novel by seeming to take great joy in a couple of witty lines he thought up, so much that he threw them into the mix a couple of times. The lines were witty the first time, but when they entered into dialouge the second time it just irked me in that irrational way that I get irked. I guess he thought that they were jokey and witty enough to be 'things people in the future would say for laughs, or that is was some kind of idiom, but he introduces these lines for the first time way to late in the book for that to be thought of (there were a couple of them, the one I remember is "Like a Jesusland preacher with a choirboy")). So anyway, the book is ok nothing really special.

  • Judd Karlman
    2018-10-16 01:32

    Prelude: Carl Marsalis, the protagonist of this novel, should be played by Idris Elba. He would rock the shit out of this role.Nature vs. Nurture, Black vs. White, Blue State vs. Red State and Faith vs. Reason collide with lots of sex and violence in this modern Blade Runner. If you are upset by the graphic sex but not upset by the vicious violence that counter-balances it, I don't know what to tell ya other than Morgan isn't the writer for you.My only complaint about this book is that it was named Thirteen on the cover, a ball-less and eggless move on the part of the U.S. publisher, rather than calling it Black Man, its U.K. title and a far better way to refer to the book.I loved it. I think it is Richard K. Morgan's best thing yet. Despite being another hard-ass soldier who is weary of the machine he has killed for in the past, Carl Marsalis is a breath of fresh air.That said, I feel like this archetype is cooked. Morgan has commented on the world through the eyes of a veteran bad-ass now in every novel but Market Forces. I'd like to think Marsalis is the last of them and see new moves in the coming books.The book does what science fiction novels are supposed to do. It comments on our own society in a way that made me vaguely uncomfortable while entertaining me and educating me.There are twists and turns like in a good noir whodunnit and while it is relentless in its critique of certain political parties of the U.S. of A., it does not simplify the matter and vilify the red states for an easy villain, far from it.P.S. I listened to the majority of the book on my iPod via Audible and found the narration really solid. I got impatient with the last hour and broke out the book so I could read it and be done with it.Games to check out if you liked this:Shock: Social Science Fiction

  • Leo Robertson
    2018-10-08 21:30

    Got 150 pgs in. The prose is clear and gripping but I'm not super grabbed because all the characters blurred too much. They're all vaguely angry for no reason because that's more tense or something. IDK. When I read the blurb on the back again I was like 'Oh this sounds quite interesting' but I'd already read through loads of the book's plot points and not realised, so, see ya!Anyway! So this was published in 2007 and I guess they changed the title from the version I found in a charity shop because here's how the blurb of mine starts (and I can't find this blurb online :D)"Carl Marsalis, is a traitor, a bringer of death, a genetic freak and an unwelcome reminder of all that is dark in the human psyche — he is, in every sense of the word, a Black Man."WOW. What... what... what the fuck were they thinking?!

  • Mike
    2018-09-23 22:31

    2 stars for me, despite what I admit is some good writing in places. The premise of this book is that we have killed off all the disruptive, aggressive “hunters” in society since we invented agriculture and became civilized. The “thirteens” are the results of the effort to reinvigorate our gene pool through genetic modification, developing a strain of feral soldiers and law enforcement not found in the societies of the near future. What a bunch of crap! Ya think UBL thought in those last few seconds left to him that those warriors storming up the stairs are just a bunch of “cudlips”, Morgan’s derogatory term for regular folks. Nothing about Thirteen stood out as surprising or earth-shattering, no moments when you could say that is a really cool concept. As others have pointed out, all the action takes place in the last 50 pages, everything before that is wandering around the globe almost aimlessly. None of the characters are remotely sympathetic or even interesting. And get real, the UN is a globally effective policing organization among the nations? Right.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.

  • Neal Asher
    2018-10-14 23:30

    Enjoyable stuff, but perhaps far too heavy on the polemics for some. A couple of times I felt the urge to skip bits, especially some of the long conversations serving as vehicles for social commentary, but I didn’t skip because by then Mr Morgan had hooked me. Also, for someone who very definitely can illustrate the shades of grey in human existence, Morgan goes blind to them when writing about what seem to be his pet hates: religious fundamentalism and right wing politics. Taking a whole lump of America, labelling it ‘Jesusland’ full of ‘Republicans’, and dismissing it as a backward society is somewhat ironic, when his lead and insightful Thirteen is supposed to be more primitive still. I suggest a read-up on some Dawkins about closet Atheism in the Bible Belt. But then who am I to criticise that, my contrast setting is always at the top of the slide. And I have to add that naming a lethal virus ‘Falwell’ had me chuckling.But though there’s so many pegs in this book to hang negative criticism on, these weren’t enough to drive me away and Morgan kept rescuing it with something like the Raymond Chandler maxim of walking a gunman in through the door. I just knew that shortly the characters would again pick up the plot, we’d be in for some more gritty violence, twists and betrayals. Yeah, that plot seemed to wander a bit, but the characters, the sheer story-telling ability and tight snappy prose kept me nailed. In the end you know you’ve enjoyed a book when, after reading the last line, you think, bugger, I’ve finished it.

  • William Thomas
    2018-09-20 22:09

    I wrote in a status update, while I was still reading the book, that this book was basically Wolverine hunting Sabretooth. After I've finished with it, it still feels that way, although it became more of a modern political thriller by increments than a science-fiction novel. And I wonder, with the way China Mieville has been writing these days, if that isn't the current trend in sci-fi. At least for the Brits.Another reviewer said she keeps coming back to Morgan because of his essential Scottishness, and then adds that she isn't really sure if he is Scottish or not but that it just feels like it. There is nothing Scottish about any part of this book, but exactly the opposite, it is very wholly English. It feels so very proper even when it is trying to give itself a Dirty Harry edge. But that isn't to say that this book fails at anythign it does. Just don't expect the swear words to sound convincing next to its very proper sentence structure, devoid of split infinitives. The book definitely succeeds in some very real ways, especially early on. However, it wraps itself up in a way that is altogether too tidy and clean-feeling, something that I really wasn't expecting. Instead of going on a tear at the end and letting all of his enemies bleed out, the main character seems to want answers more than revenge and a good heap of the resolution is spent trying to knit together all of the loose ends. I always prefer vengeance over thorough explanation of any plot holes. The bloodier the better.Richard K Morgan and Philip K Dick share the same middle initial, most likely by no coincidence on Morgan's part. But that is where the similarities stop. Although Morgan tries to incorporate themes of humanness, political subversion through corporate greed, an underlying theme of gender roles, and a host of other proto-typical Dick-ensian styled themes, he just doesn't seem to get it. I can't quite put my finger on exactly what is so different, but I think I will refer you back to his English-ness. There is just something altogether too proper here, something that fails to help us analyze the nature of the system and world he has built, but like the British, has built it and left it alone for the natives to figure out after he was through occupying it. I'm not saying I'm a child and can't figure out the themes, or that we need them explained. It just seemed that he came, gave us flushing toilets, and didn't really care whether or not we used them.Grade: C

  • Sandi
    2018-10-14 22:10

    Morgan at his best... which is not saying much. Gratuitous violence, unnecessary, unnecessarily graphic sex scenes, at least a hundred pages of preaching about the emasculation of the modern world and how we need a huge dose of testosterone to solve all of our problems. Especially us poor, stupid women who need a real man to come along and f*ck us to happiness (a. word. that. was. definitely. overused). There are a plethora of cuss words in the English language, not to mention culturally specific ones in other languages. It would be nice if the author could vary the usage based on the character, rather than highlight his own lack of imagination. And try completing a sentence, the periods did nothing for the flow of the conversation. The changes in POV during the first hundred pages were very jerky. It was difficult to follow who was talking and where we were. A stupid factoid - Van Horn is in West Texas, not north Texas. Don't use geography if you aren't going to get it right (there were others but I go through Van Horn regularly so that one just jumps out at me). I find it fascinating (not) that Christians can not become enlightened while Muslims can and the UN can acquire the political backbone to be able to police the world. None of the characters are particularly sympathetic, and they all get way to many opportunities to declaim their idiotic monologues to all and sundry. Too little goes on for too long then they finally sit down and get the three people at fault to tell their tale (because we can't have figured out any of it as it is being spelled out for us in gruesome detail) and then Carl kills everyone in sight as he walks out into a blaze of glorious sunshine (an obvious movie moment). At this point, I have plowed through four of Morgan's novels but no more. I am only happy that I have not plunked down my own money for them. They are not worth it.

  • Greg (adds 2 TBR list daily) Hersom
    2018-10-09 04:26

    F*@%in' A, Thirteen is another awesome book by Richard K. Morgan! Mr. Morgan is one of my top three favorite current authors and I can't rightfully say why I just now finally got around to reading Thirteen but it's more than worth the wait. Genetically modified humans is nothing new to SCI-FI but I haven't ran across any where the building material came from the savage hunter/killers that had long since been bred out of the human race. Carl Maralis is the product of such genetic engineering called Variant Thirteen. So what do you do when wolves break their chains and start slaughtering the sheep? You get a wolf to track down his renegade brothers.If you prefer your SCI-FI in the vein of Blade Runner then you'll dig Thirteen. It's dark, gritty, and brutal, with insights of society and mankind that ring all too true.Now I'm left trying to decide if I want to fork out the cash and jump into Market Forces, -the last of Morgan's novels I have yet to read- or take a break long enough to catch my breath first.

  • Bettie☯
    2018-10-07 22:07

    (view spoiler)[Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)]

  • j
    2018-09-27 04:14

    Probably a bit rape-y for a book club selection.

  • Jack Pramitte
    2018-10-14 05:09

    La Terre au début du XXIIe siècle. Le génie génétique a produit des « variantes » humaines adaptées à de nouveaux besoins (la colonisation des planètes) et à d'autres plus anciens (le sexe, la guerre). L'une d'elles est la variante 13 inspirée des mâles alpha de notre époque préhistorique, avant que l'humanité se « féminise » et crée les premières civilisations. Pourvues d'autant d'empathie qu'une kalachnikov, les variantes 13 sont utilisées pour la guerre et autres « sales boulots ». Désormais interdites sur Terre, les variantes 13 sont exilées sur Mars pour les travaux de colonisations. Procréer leur est interdit.La Fierté d'Horkan est un vaisseau de retour de Mars. L'IA de pilotage s'est mise en sommeil et le vaisseau en perdition s'écrase dans le pacifique. L'équipage et les passagers (tous restés en hibernation) ne sont pas beaux à voir (euphémisme XXL). On soupçonne une variante 13 embarquée en clandestin d'être responsable. Dans les semaines qui suivent, des meurtres mystérieux parsèment l'ancien territoires des USA.La compagnie de colonisation qui mène l'enquête décide de s'associer à Carl Marsalis, une variante 13 exceptionnellement autorisée à rester sur Terre et dont la mission est de traquer les variantes 13 renégates.Ce pitch ressemble fortement à celui de Blade Runner. Cependant, l'histoire et le traitement sont très différents. L'intrigue compliquée à souhait et habitée de personnages ambigus est digne de James Ellroy.La grande qualité de ce livre, outre son histoire, est que les personnages ont l'air vrai et profond, tout comme le contexte, les situations et les dialogues. Un tel degré de réalisme n'est pas courant dans ce genre où les personnages sont le plus souvent superficiels et simplement au service de l'intrigue. Ici, l'essence même de Carl et son expérience de l'existence pousse le lecteur à la réflexion et suscite son empathie. C'est selon moi la preuve que Richard Morgan est un grand écrivain qui sait distraire et faire réfléchir ses lecteurs.

  • Wealhtheow
    2018-10-12 03:23

    Carl Marsalis seems like a lucky man. Thirty-odd years ago the US and UK created genetically modified soldiers, called "Thirteens", but when public horror shut the project down, the Thirteens were put into camps or shipped off to Mars. Carl is one of the few permitted to roam free--on the condition that he hunt down other Thirteens, who have left their reservations without permission. His latest mission is to stop Merrin, a Thirteen who tortured, ate, and mutilated the corpses of his fellow passengers on a flight from Mars. Despite the thriller plot, the majority of this book was actually a slow slog for me. The characters (especially, but not only, Carl) communicate mostly in several-page rants whose main points seem to be how tough the speaker is, how hard they've had it, and how terribly unfair the world is. And it is a terrible world! Morgan is master at creating dystopias and the hard-bitten noir types who survive in them. But I can only read so many monologues per chapter, and each of the characters is so disheartened, jaded and unhappy that reading their thoughts was a drag. The other problem is that the first 400+ pages are just Carl and his various police and COLIN partners taking suborb flights all over the world to try to intimidate and threaten various underworld types (most of whom get monologues of their own). It seems very pointless. Now, all that time bumbling around does actually have a point, because all the while Morgan is dropping hints and clues to a worldwide conspiracy. In the final few chapters, all of it comes tumbling together into a beautiful solution that makes sense of everything, even bits I didn't realize had confused me before.I really was impressed by the mystery/thriller writing--it's some of the best I've seen. But it couldn't make up for how unpleasant I found hyper-masculine Carl, nor how bored I was by the sentence fragments that make up the narration.

  • Nima
    2018-10-12 05:13

    igazán jó alfahímes ötlet. semmi vámpír, semmi vérfarkas, csak a pőre alfa.meg egy csomó vér és hulla. sztem eddigi olvasmányaim közül ebben a könyvben a legtöbb az egy lapra jutó halottak száma. Morgan igazán kegyetlen alak. külön plusz pont, hogy nincs happy end, bár pont nem bántam volna, ha mégis lett volna.

  • Simon Mcleish
    2018-10-10 05:09

    Originally published on my blog here in August 2007.On the assumption that any technology developed by the human race will be used in for short term gain without consideration of the consequences or of ethics, the outlook for genetic engineering is frightening. That is the basic premise of Black Man, Richard Morgan's latest novel (published in the US as Thirteen, presumably because the publishers there - Del Rey - don't want readers to assume that it is about racism). Richard Morgan envisages the production of three types of genetically modified human being: the hibernoids, considered ideal for space exploration because they hibernate; bonobos, submissive bimbos produced for the sex trade; and thirteens, sociopathic individuals expected to be super-soldiers. None of these groups performed as expected by their makers, and by the time in which Black Man is set, they are rarities, feared and hated by many. The thirteens are the most feared, with the result that they have been declared non-humans, not covered by human rights legislation. Most of them have emigrated to Mars to escape the restrictions placed on them on Earth.Carl Marsalis is not just a thirteen, but a renegade: he hunts down other thirteens for the UN. However, when he is arrested in Miami, he is left to rot in a brutal Jesusland jail - Jesusland being the fundamentalist state that has seceded from the US - until his expertise is needed. A thirteen has escaped from indentured service on Mars, getting back onto a ship returning to earth. A glitch in the hacker code needed to override the normal cryogenics so that he could get on board means that this thirteen has been woken up only two weeks into the journey, surviving the remainder by brutally butchering the other passengers and eating their body parts. The shuttle crashes in the Pacific, and a killing spree begins. So Marsalis is freed from prison, and sets out, abrasively and violently, to track down the missing thirteen.In many ways, Black Man is a maverick cop thriller with added science fiction elements. I can't really think of a way that the SF ideas really add anything to the story at all. In the Takeshi Kovacs novels, starting with Altered Carbon, the ideas are fascinating in themselves and a vital part of the plot and atmosphere of the novel. It seems that without Kovacs, Morgan has problems putting together anything beyond a science fiction inflected violent thriller; his other non-Kovacs novel, Market Forces has similar problems. Here, things are worse, because Marsalis is too much like Kovacs (minus a sense of humour), making it look as though Morgan is incapable of writing a range of characters.My feeling is that publishing this novel as it is was a mistake. Morgan should have been encouraged to revise it, beefing up the science fiction content, improving the characterisation (particularly of the female characters) and reducing the violence. Genetic manipulation is obviously a topic that science fiction should be exploring at the moment, but this is not the novel to start a debate on how it should be handled.

  • Zedsdead
    2018-09-22 04:27

    It's early in the 22nd century. Genetic engineering has produced a number of human "variants": bonobos, which are submissive female super-geishas; hibernoids, who possess superhuman focus but go into a catatonic sleep state four months a year; and thirteens, an alpha-male throwback variant, last seen in pre-civilization, pre-agricultural times. Thirteens are stronger, tougher, more remorseless and single-minded than mere humans. All the variants trigger some level of resentment and fear from "normal" humans, but only thirteens are forced to live either in internment camps on Earth or in the budding Mars colony.When a thirteen escapee stows away on a Mars-to-Earth shuttle--methodically butchering and eating everyone else on board over the long flight home--a thirteen bounty hunter is called in to track him down. This leads to plenty of fighting, international politics, a little sex, a lot of murder mystery, abundant future-style bigotry, and the long, slow unwinding of a complex conspiracy.Morgan spent a lot of time hammering at the differences between humans and thirteens. Like, A LOT of time. I think he felt compelled to do so because it didn't hold water. The concept is interesting--übermales bred out of the species during the transition from hunter-gatherer to agriculture--but he founded it on a lot of weird assumptions about masculinity/femininity. Embracing negotiation, group cooperation, NOT leaping to join the army...these things don't strike me as strict functions of femininity, they're just functions of having more options and opportunities due to the stability and wealth provided by farming. This constant harping on how very alien thirteens are psychologically was tiring. The thirteen hero keeps acting like a standard-issue tough guy, then tossing out a comment about he's "wired" for it. Aside from that repetitive annoyance, Thirteen was terrific. It has a sprawling but coherent conspiracy, a wonderfully detailed and logical future political landscape, three-dimensional characters with complex and believable motivations, and plenty of surprises. The US has splintered into three nations, the wealthy and tech-savvy Pacific Rim, the liberal and powerful UNGLA in the northeast, and "Jesusland", the poor backward states in between. This allows Morgan to look at modern issues like immigration and abortion through fresh eyes. These aren't big plot points by any stretch, they just give the story more punch. Not quite as good as Altered Carbon but still a top-notch read.

  • Mark
    2018-09-21 05:16

    My first reaction to this novel was what a brave book this was in today’s current political and social climate. Richard, who could hardly be accused of holding much back in his earlier novels, has extrapolated some very interesting and scary ideas of the future. In doing so he has included comments on race (though the name ‘Black Man’ has clearly more than one meaning here), and society, politics, religion, economics, science and space pioneering. At a time when the discussion of such issues in the real world can be seen to be both difficult and controversial, this book manages to look at these issues through a future perspective. It deserves praise for doing so. This is not a Kovacs novel. In fact, whereas the Kovacs novels (Altered Carbon and so on) looked at a society where death could be avoided through the process of ‘sleeving’ (being transported or downloaded to another body), here death is a very real part of life. There are deaths aplenty here as the actions of a Thirteen is to act as assassin and gun-for-hire. By moving away from his earlier series, Richard has been able to fashion a future which is a scary extrapolation of current world events. One of SF’s greatest tricks is to highlight issues of the present by examining their potential consequences in the future, and this is something that is very noticeable in this book. Punishment, internment, segregation, political and religious differences – elements of this story are clearly mirrored in the world of the 21st century.Richard also dips into SF tradition by having the idea of the key character as an ‘outsider’. From AE Van Vogt’s mutant Slan to the present day, the idea that the protagonist is not one of the majority but separate in some way, is a common theme. Here this produces both sympathy for Carl Marsalis and allows the reader to see what it means to be different in a future society.The book started very well for me. The middle section I found slower, where there is less action and more dialogue driven examination. With perseverance though, the book picked up for me at the end. My overall impression at the end was a fully realised world, clearly thought out, though not a happy one. At times, its bleakness made the book hard going, though it is a read worth finishing.

  • Mia
    2018-09-19 00:12

    I liked this so much more than Altered Carbon. I think it was the layer of added complexity and the implicit questions the book brought up -- of nature vs. nurture, gender roles, the nature of connection and emotional attachment, and of humanity. But there were troubling things too. Like, that in a society where all kinds of human genetic modification are possible, there doesn't seem to be access to effective and unobtrusive contraception. Also, for all the interesting examination of racial assumptions and bigotry, it wasn't quite as good with gender issues. At it's heart, the book only clearly presents one female character type. She is a smart, capable, independent and sexually assertive woman of color who appears in 3 different guises, as the three female characters who are actively present in the book. In a way it seems silly to complain about something like that, butt there were times when it started to seem like (possibly unintentional)) fetishization, since other women of different attributes are bit players -- walk on roles, or some guy's memory.With that said, I'd be lying if I said I didn't think the book was engrossing and a lot of fun.

  • Chris
    2018-09-26 01:33

    No me guista! I was NOT a fan of this novel... at least not the first 100 pages or so. That's as far as I got, I'm afraid.Morgan's writing style is adequate and at times, interesting, but the total lack of anything resembling a conscience in any of the characters the novel had introduced left me feeling, well, pretty lousy. I need my novel's heroes to have SOMETHING for me to cling to. Everyone I got to meet in this novel seemed morally bankrupt, depressed or was completely forgettable.The tipping point for me was the introduction of a character from "Jesus Land". The author decided to use this as the name for what seemed to be the majority of the former United States that isn't California or New York. The character, while still having a moral backbone at first, was en route for an "enlightenment." I could see it already: he would shake off all of those pesky limitations his faith had placed in the way of satisfying every urge at every opportunity. Obviously, I'm jumping to some conclusions above. That isn't really fair, admittedly. But without those assumptions being confirmed, I could tell that I wasn't the person this book was written to entertain.

  • Michael
    2018-09-15 22:31

    In Thirteen Richard Morgan explores many different concepts of genetic engineering. Humans have created what are called "variants". Hibernoids that must go into a sleep state for four months out of a year. Bonobos that are female super-geishas. And then there are the Thirteens, who are stronger and tougher then normal humans. They are conditioned to tap into a primal rage, and are more remorseless and single minded then modern humans.This book is what I think I can now call classic Richard Morgan. It's edgy, dark, controversial, and violent. The dialogue is always sharpe and slick.The book has an over arching conspiracy that actually keeps you guessing and interested. The book echoes social politics of the present, future, and the resent past. The characters are strong, tight, and sharp with an abundance of depth to them.HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

  • Nora
    2018-10-11 04:10

    A gripping plot, kept me reading all day. Not sure about all the genetics involved, but it's hard to say how much is being filtered by the POVs. The future history is interesting, some of the Jesusland stuff is pretty chilling. Typical Morgan stuff, which means getting more descriptions of big-breasted and long-legged ladies running about than I really care for, but the sex scenes are relatively toned down compared to some others I can think of from him. Also the book felt like it did not need to be that long.