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Thirteen

by Richard K. Morgan

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,565568,453 (3.78)109
One hundred years from now, and against all the odds, Earth has found a new stability; the political order has reached some sort of balance, and the new colony on Mars is growing. But the fraught years of the 21st century have left an uneasy legacy ... Genetically engineered alpha males, designed to fight the century's wars have no wars to fight and are surplus to requirements. And a man bred and designed to fight is a dangerous man to have around in peacetime. Many of them have left for Mars but now one has come back and killed everyone else on the shuttle he returned in. Only one man, a genengineered ex-soldier himself, can hunt him down and so begins a frenetic man-hunt and a battle survival. And a search for the truth about what was really done with the world's last soldiers. BLACK MAN is an unstoppable SF thriller but it is also a novel about prejudice, about the ramifications of playing with our genetic blue-print. It is about our capacity for violence but more worrying, our capacity for deceit and corruption. This is another landmark of modern SF from one of its most exciting and commercial authors.… (more)
  1. 10
    Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (WildMaggie)
    WildMaggie: A thriller and a tragic romance--both authors explore the ethics of people created for specific purposes from the perspectives of those created individuals.
  2. 10
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» See also 109 mentions

English (54)  Dutch (1)  French (1)  All languages (56)
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
Sci-Fi always has something to say about the present, and the question here is a familiar one: How much does free will exist, and how much of our lives is determined by genetics, childhood experience, and society's prejudice? There are some excellent conversations between the characters on the topic, and the events of the book highlight the question more than they provide clear answers. Occasionally there was just a really strong sentence that stuck with me. For instance, "Anyone who's proud of their country is either a thug or just hasn't read enough history yet."

The book's protagonist has a relatively simple way of seeing the word that allows him to be a vehicle for the reader. His mentor summed it up, "Only live with what you've done, and try in future to only do what you're happy to live with."

The overarching story is a competent crime thriller with a couple of unique touches and page-turning writing, but the asides and philosophical moments were my favorite part of the book.

Here's a couple quotes to illustrate what I mean:

Yavuz said, "At times, it shames me to be male. I mean, we index how civilised a nation is by the level of female participation it enjoys. We fear those societies where women are still not empowered, and with good cause. Investigating violent crime, we assume, correctly, that the perpetrator will most likely be male. We use male social dominance as a predictor of trouble, and of suffering, because when all is said and done males are the problem."

In response, Sevgi says, "The way it looks from the historical context, the male cycle of civilisation had to come first, because there was no other way outside of male force to create a civilisation in the first place. To have law and art and science, you have to have settled agrarian societies and a non-labouring class that can develop that stuff. But that kind of society would have to be enforced, and pretty brutally in the terms we look at things today."

There's also a lot of subtext about racism couched in an overt examination of prejudice based on genetic modification. One of the most interesting reoccurring events in the book was the children who had at least one parent that was a genetically-modified super-soldier, but who were being set up to be raised outside of the oppressive system that the book's super-soldiers were subject to. The eventual fate of one of the three was very up in the air, subject to a contentious legal battle and kept in cryogenic stasis until their fate was decided. The book's brooding philosophical super-assassin protagonist is set up as a potential guardian for the child, but that plotline is never resolved. The other two were in the care of their relate-able criminal mothers, and almost certain to survive unscathed into adulthood. This is an obvious set-up for a sequel (that has never been written), and I want to read that story a great deal more than the one I got.

Words that jumped out at me from this book:
adipocere - a grayish waxy substance formed by the decomposition of soft tissue in dead bodies subjected to moisture.
antecuchos - Peruvian shish kabob, usually skewered beef and onions
atavistic - relating to or characterized by reversion to something ancient or ancestral.
blag - to persuade someone in a clever or slightly dishonest way
chunter - to mutter or to talk in a low inarticulate way
cimit - usually spelled "simit", a Turkish circular bread typically encrusted with sesame seeds. Widely known as a "Turkish bagel" in the USA.
demodynamic - ambiguously either the flow of a demonstration or the flow of demonic power.
lemeño - a type of criminal slang specific to Lima, Peru
occlude - to block passage through
onbekend - "unknown" in Dutch. A common surname in the former Dutch-ruled Indonesia where there weren't surnames.
raki - an unsweetened, occasionally anise-flavored, alcoholic drink that is popular in Turkey, Greece, Iran, Turkic countries, and in the Balkan countries.
rapprochment - (especially in international relations) an establishment or resumption of harmonious relations.
rectilinear - characterized by a straight line or lines
sahlep - a Turkish flour made from tubers of the orchid genus Orchis, or the drink made from the same.
sicario - hitman or hired killer, specifically one in the emlpoy of South American drug cartels
superannuated - no longer in use or valid or fashionable; too old to be useful; discharged as too old for use or work; especially with a pension
virilicide - the elimination of masculinity.
vivarium - an indoor enclosure for keeping and raising living animals and plants and observing them under natural conditions. ( )
  wishanem | May 27, 2021 |
I am nearly half-way through and seriously immersed in this "grab em" SF novel, and I already feel that this is better even than Altered Carbon, which I loved. I am a very demanding reader and this stand-alone totally meets my demands. The characters are such that you absolutely want a sequel to materialize. I also really like the fact that this takes place in the near future, versus a lot of books that I have been less than excited about taking place in the distant future. Focusing on the near future makes the story more believable to me.

Character development is the best that I have seen for this type of book. I would love to see a return of the main character in a new adventure.

If you are a SF fan, and not too squeamish about blood and guts violence mixed in, I would expect that you will like this book. As the Philadelphia Weekly Press put it in the portion of their review on the back cover, "[An] exciting 22nd-century tale that mixes Silence of the Lambs with Blade Runner....". Hell of a mixture.

Thin Air is the reported sequel to this book; same universe, much of the same technology, different characters. Can't wait to get my hands on that one. ( )
  dmwald | Apr 9, 2021 |
A very intriguing world, but the story itself didn't catch my interest much. ( )
  snorrelo | Feb 22, 2021 |
A very intriguing world, but the story itself didn't catch my interest much. ( )
  snorrelo | Feb 22, 2021 |
Takeshi Kovacs may be a cliched hard-boiled badass but he's likeable and the whole series doesn't take itself too seriously. This book's protagonist is a cliched angsty asshole you just can't sympathise with but maybe that's the point. The premise is really wacky, or eerily prescient given it was written 10 years ago. In the future all men are betas and 13s are genetically modified manly Men and they do things only manly Men can do like beat people up, eat human flesh, torture people and tell it like it is. Sometimes I just can't it take it seriously despite the book really putting on the darker tones. Saved by plot and world-building. ( )
  Paul_S | Dec 23, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Richard K. Morganprimary authorall editionscalculated
Moore, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Margaret Ann Morgan
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Gleaming steel, gleaming steel...
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One hundred years from now, and against all the odds, Earth has found a new stability; the political order has reached some sort of balance, and the new colony on Mars is growing. But the fraught years of the 21st century have left an uneasy legacy ... Genetically engineered alpha males, designed to fight the century's wars have no wars to fight and are surplus to requirements. And a man bred and designed to fight is a dangerous man to have around in peacetime. Many of them have left for Mars but now one has come back and killed everyone else on the shuttle he returned in. Only one man, a genengineered ex-soldier himself, can hunt him down and so begins a frenetic man-hunt and a battle survival. And a search for the truth about what was really done with the world's last soldiers. BLACK MAN is an unstoppable SF thriller but it is also a novel about prejudice, about the ramifications of playing with our genetic blue-print. It is about our capacity for violence but more worrying, our capacity for deceit and corruption. This is another landmark of modern SF from one of its most exciting and commercial authors.

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