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Thirteen Hardcover – June 26, 2007
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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.
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.
Top customer reviews
It has been a mixed bag. Market Forces has been a very tough read for me, and the two Takeshi Kovacs novels that follow Altered Carbon were not as good as the original.
Thirteen, on the other hand, has been a very refreshing read. It is a standalone novel and has nothing to do with the worlds of Kovacs or Market Forces. The scenario is a future with Earth split into new factions, and even the US split into pieces, along with a smattering of folks trying to terraform Mars and make it into a full-blown human world. Most of the story takes place on Earth, with a good old fashioned murder mystery being investigated by a genetically and environmentally enhanced human being known as a 13.
One of the things I like about Morgan's novels is the lead character is usually a bit of a "superhero." Whether it is neurachem, or genetic enhancements, or some other gimmick, the character has an edge. I enjoy that. Some may not. For me, story telling is about escaping to something bigger and better than my day-to-day life. I don't want my heros to be ordinary. I want them to have an edge. Morgan does this deftly without giving the hero too much of an edge for it to be interesting.
I also agree with other reviwers that Morgan is prone to gratuitous sex in his novels. Not sure why, it is rarely - if ever - necessary for the storyline to proceed. But I generally skip past it. I'm not a prude, but I don't get my jollies from books.
Overall 13 is fast-paced, action packed and the characters are interesting and next to Altered Carbon, this is probably Morgan's finest novel. I hope he does more with this character.
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.
One of his best. Don't miss it.
If you're new to RK Morgan, this novel may be a bit hard to follow---Morgan's plotting is deep, dense, and can take some re-reading to get the full of it---but I never read a Morgan novel once, anyway. Every time I re-read one of his works, I get more out of it. This book is full of double-crosses, triple-crosses, and heroes who are entirely too human---no matter what they really are.