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Thirteen Paperback – June 24, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. This stellar new stand-alone from Morgan, known for his compelling future noir thrillers (Altered Carbon, etc.), raises tantalizing questions about the nature of humanity. Future governments have used genetic manipulation to create subhumans twisted to fit specialized tasks. Normal people are intrigued as well as repulsed, but they instinctively dread variation thirteen, an aggressive, ruthless throwback to a time before civilization. When a thirteen escapes from exile on Mars and apparently goes on an insane killing spree, Carl Marsalis, a soul-weary freelance thirteen hit man, is hired to help track him down. Morgan goes beyond the SF cliché of the genetically enhanced superman to examine how personality is shaped by nature and experience. Marsalis is more empathetic than the normal people around him, but they can see him only as an untrustworthy killer. At the same time, surveying corrupt, fractured normal society, the novel questions whether the thirteens are just less successful at hiding their motives. Without slowing down the headlong rush of the action, the complex, looping plot suggests that all people may be less—or more—than they seem. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Winner of the Philip K. Dick Award for Altered Carbon (see below), his debut novel, and the author of successful follow-ups Broken Angels (**** July/Aug 2004) and Woken Furies, as well as the stand-alone Market Forces (*** May/June 2005), Richard K. Morgan and his characters are hardly strangers to violent dystopias. Thirteen, published simultaneously in Britain as Black Man, tackles some difficult issues, including race and identity. The result is perhaps less compelling than some of Morgan's previous work, and the novel could have been shorter. Still, the author can hardly be accused of simply retreading familiar ground. Thirteen is a solid effort for Morgan's devotees, as well as a good read for fans of military sci-fi with a twist.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; Reprint edition (June 24, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345480899
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345480897
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (133 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #552,269 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Richard Morgan was, until his writing career took off, a tutor at Strathclyde University in the English Language Teaching division. He has travelled widely and lived in Spain and Istanbul. He is a fluent Spanish speaker.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I'm having a hard time coalescing my thoughts on this one. On the one hand, my first thought midway through the book was that someone ought to get on the job of making "13" tee shirts. On completing the book, I wanted to go get that tee shirt, wear it to the mall and stare down anyone who questioned me - just because. In fact, just as Fight Club spawned imitation clubs around the nation, I thought that there are still Thirteen personality types running about, and they might start to form informal networks to combat the influence of the Cudlips (as incongruous as that might sound). I conclude in some respects, the book is extremely compelling.

In other respects, although a huge fan of Mr. Morgan's earlier work (Altered Carbon is one for the ages) I think Market Forces was kind of a miss, and Thirteen, although a compelling read, didn't quite take it over the edge either. There were several stylistic problems - names too close to each other, different characters referenced by the same name - which didn't appear in his earlier works, and a lot of the promised and implied consideration of race, gender, identity and even species didn't seem fully developed. A lot of the characters have seemingly identical experiences (illegal pregnancy - with a child of a Thirteen; waking up early on the Mars flight) but whether this was deliberate or intended to draw comparisons or contrasts seemed unresolved. Marsalis could have been Kovacs' spiritual great-great grandfather when it comes to choices of weapons and problem-solving techniques, but given those tendencies, the plot developments seemed predictable.
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Format: Hardcover
First I have to give credit to writer Richard K. Morgan for his latest novel THIRTEEN; Morgan's latest novel is an ambitious affair tackling a lot of major themes with some of his most complex characters to date. Morgan's latest is very good a lot of the time but some of the subplots don't gel and actually slow down the main narrative without adding much substance to it. Even if THIRTEEN isn't a perfect novel, it demonstrates that Morgan's skills as a writer are continuing to grow.

A summary of the plot follows: (Major Spoilers follow)

When a shuttle between Mars and Earth crash lands in the Pacific Ocean with body partsfrom the passengers strewn throughout the ship, COLONY Executives Sevgi Eretkin and senior partner Tom Norton are called in to investigate and find out which passenger woke up prematurely, used the autosurgeon to cut up and eat all the sleeping passengers. They discover that a Thirteen a genetically enhanced soldier that had been banished to Mars (or to a resettlement area)after they were no longer useful and deemed a threat was behind the murders eating the crew because his sleeping chamber opened prematurely. Now he is on a killing spree and they aren't sure why.

They partner up with Carl Marsalis another Thirteen who makes a living hunting other Thirteens and either bringing them in for resettlement or killing them. Seen as a traitor to his own kind and never accepted by humanity, Marsalis is a bruised outcast who tries to do the right thing while surviving in a world where he's not welcome. When it comes to light that the escaped Thirteen Alan Merrin had help in escaping and that he's part of a far larger plan, Marsalis and Ertekin feel compelled to track him down and find out the larger truth behind his escape.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Tghu Verd on May 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I like Richard Morgan's hard bitten, technology heavy style, though I don't think this book (which was released as 'Black Man' in the UK. Sad that a hard core SF author goes PC for his US readers) has the same cohesion in its social commentary as his earlier 'Market Forces'.

The plot is straighforward enough. An apparent bad guy, Carl Marsalis, reluctantly hunts an altogeher much badder guy. During the process our somewhat hero haltingly reveals that he's not such a bad guy after all, just sadly misunderstood. The theme is familiar (does a guy called Rick Deckard from Philip K. Dick's 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?' sound familiar) because it's a theme Morgan explores well in his Takeshi Kovacs novels.

There's loads of plot detail of course; with over 500 pages to fill there is going to need to be. Some of that detail is filler - perhaps stage setting for a future Marsalis novel? - but overall it does not come across as a bloated book.

Bottom line is that if you like your sci-fi loaded with state of the art weapons, fights aplenty, technological extrapolations , drugs, sex and lots of characters dying, Morgan is not going to let you down. If you are looking for something more mellow with depth in the social engineering, go read a recent Iain M Banks novel such as 'Matter'.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By KindlePad VINE VOICE on November 12, 2008
Format: Paperback
Very exciting premise here - in the not so distant future America has split along conservative and liberal lines into 2 separate countries and genetic experimentation has created a race of "super men" called 13's (genetic variation #13) who have either been locked up or exiled to the Mars colony. These guys are genetic throwbacks to the caveman and serious alpha males that used to run the tribes and groups of stone aged hunters. They were created to fight in wars but afterwards, were killed, locked up, or exiled.

Our protagonist (Carl) is a 13 who is licensed to track down rogue 13's and either capture or kill if need be. He is brought in to hunt down a particularly nasty 13 who escaped from mars, feasting off the frozen bodies off his shipmates on the months long haul from Mars to Earth. Yeah, wow, gritty. Morgan's strength is envisioning a world that is very very derived of our own - showing how technology can and will be abused.

But, then about half way thru the book, it stops cold. And as Carl and crew track down the vile 13, we suffer thru chapter after chapter of political and social rhetoric. I really don't like when authors stop the plot cold and start lecturing to me the details of a made of the social & political structure of a world set in the future. I could literally have skipped the middle 1/3 of the book to no effect. Some editor here was really asleep on the job.

I have read all of Morgan's books and this one just got too far off base. My advice, less preaching and more action and story. If I want to contemplate the social structure of emerging religious & political factions I'll click over to "that" section of Amazon and find something, thanks.

I'll give it a solid 3 as it starts strong & end strong.
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