Book Reviews of Thirteen

Thirteen
Thirteen
Author: Richard K. Morgan
ISBN-13: 9780345485250
ISBN-10: 0345485254
Publication Date: 6/26/2007
Pages: 416
Rating:
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 11

3.8 stars, based on 11 ratings
Publisher: Del Rey
Book Type: Hardcover
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

4 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed Thirteen on + 260 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
One of these days, I'll figure out why I read dreck fast and hoping it will get better, instead of a bit at a time like the books I enjoy and like.

OK, the viewpoint character is one Carl Marsalis, a veteran of UK's Project Osprey (a super soldier project), veteran of Mars and United Nations Genetic Licensing Agency tracker. And oh yeah, he's a variant 13 - a form of human supposedly recreated from humanity's hunter gatherer days with a talent, no, inclination and flair for violence.

To put it mildly, he's a piece of work.

The setting is a bit more interesting, with a fractured USA (Pacific Rim, Confederated Republic (aka Jesusland), North Atlantic Union and possibly others). But its not compelling.

The plot revolves another 13 getting back to Earth from Mars via shuttle, in a method involving cannibalism and great violence. From there, he goes on an apparently random killing spree with identifying the motive being a major plot point for the book.

In many ways, it gets some things right - that designing human variants is a tricky business (the by-products of the Chinese black labs are a recurring theme). But, Morgan seems to miss a lot of the implications of the technology he brings into play. If you can engineer human variants, where are all the animal variants? All that's mentioned is a Saudi ops (attack) dog. Worse, he seems to have read some of the same neuropsych texts and articles that Peter Watts did, but not interpret them very well.

Ultimately, this is like Deathshead in that it borrows the terminology of transhumanism for a rather standard tech noir novel, without incorporating the mindsets and implications of the technology. This was a pure airplane book and not worth re-reading. And I honestly feel like I wasted my time with this.
reviewed Thirteen on + 260 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
One of these days, I'll figure out why I read dreck fast and hoping it will get better, instead of a bit at a time like the books I enjoy and like.

OK, the viewpoint character is one Carl Marsalis, a veteran of UK's Project Osprey (a super soldier project), veteran of Mars and United Nations Genetic Licensing Agency tracker. And oh yeah, he's a variant 13 - a form of human supposedly recreated from humanity's hunter gatherer days with a talent, no, inclination and flair for violence.

To put it mildly, he's a piece of work.

The setting is a bit more interesting, with a fractured USA (Pacific Rim, Confederated Republic (aka Jesusland), North Atlantic Union and possibly others). But its not compelling.

The plot revolves another 13 getting back to Earth from Mars via shuttle, in a method involving cannibalism and great violence. From there, he goes on an apparently random killing spree with identifying the motive being a major plot point for the book.

In many ways, it gets some things right - that designing human variants is a tricky business (the by-products of the Chinese black labs are a recurring theme). But, Morgan seems to miss a lot of the implications of the technology he brings into play. If you can engineer human variants, where are all the animal variants? All that's mentioned is a Saudi ops (attack) dog. Worse, he seems to have read some of the same neuropsych texts and articles that Peter Watts did, but not interpret them very well.

Ultimately, this is like Deathshead in that it borrows the terminology of transhumanism for a rather standard tech noir novel, without incorporating the mindsets and implications of the technology. This was a pure airplane book and not worth re-reading. And I honestly feel like I wasted my time with this.
reviewed Thirteen on + 201 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
If you like your science fiction hard nosed and edgy, then Thirteen is for you. In fact, so far, everything I've read by Morgan is grade A goodness of the same sort.

Set in the not too distant future, Thirteen tells part of the story of an... well... it's complicated. The hero - Carl Marsalis - is an outcast working for the man. He's kind of a cop, but his relationship with authority is challenging, and his assignments... suffice it to say he hunts down escaped people like him.

And what is he? Well, a thirteen is a member of the last (thirteenth) generation of genetically modified super soldiers. They're faster and stronger than regular humans, and the programs were all shelved and the survivors are outcasts, relegated to a few fringe communities and the Martian colonies. Some don't like that, however, and get loose with the rest of us. When that happens, Carl is called in to find them and bring them back, or kill them if they won't come along.

But Carl gets brought into this story in a sideways way, involving a crashed ship from mars and a series of murders.

We get to watch Carl interact with humans - and other thirteens - and in the process see all kinds of interesting things about the dystopian society they live in. This is a deeply uncomfortable world, and humanity is not doing well.

But Morgan's science fiction has that sort of edge about it. Everything is dirty, and the real motivations for things are hard to find.

In short, this is good stuff, and I highly recommend it.

Oh, and it was published under the name Black Man outside the US, so if you're looking for it elsewhere, that's the name.
reviewed Thirteen on
This book wants to explore how much of us is free will, and how much is genetically determined; it seems to fall pretty hard on the essentialist side, that is, 'determined'. It wants to explore how racial bigotry is wrong, but essentialist misogyny is okay--women exist to have babies and be sexy. It works from a fundamental misunderstanding of hunter/gatherer societies and why people transitioned away from them. It was almost good, in places, in the way characters seemed to be rationalizing bad behavior as 'genes' as an excuse--but then it goes right on and rewards that behavior and excuse. It claims that in a 'feminized' society, only specially-made supermale killers are effective soldiers.

In short, a thriller that tries to be deep but ends up shallowly brushing over the author's own issues.