Written by Richard K. Morgan

Publisher: Victor Gollancz Ltd
Pages: 630
Genre: Science Fiction, Thriller, Mystery
Published: 2007-05-17
Original Language: English

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 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?

Read from 2014-03-30 to 2014-04-18
Read in English
Rating: 4/5
Review: Black Man is set 100 years in the future. And, yes, there are a bunch of sci-fi technological elements that are crucial to the story. But more important than the 100-year-hence technology is the vision of the future social structures and political reality which makes this a really interesting story. The story revolves around a man who is different, seen by some as a useful weapon, seen by most others as a monster who should be locked up or dead. This man is dragged into the case of solving a number of murders which seem to have been committed by “one of his own”. The story moves from there, and while I don’t think it’s the kind of story you won’t be able to put down, it is certainly a book you always want to pick back up and continue reading. The book turns out to be more than “just” a story. It goes from being story-driven to being almost purely character-driven. This works very well. Yes, the reader has become invested enough in the characters to care about them, but that’s the easy part. The impressive part is that the reader has become sufficiently immersed in the world and the society around the story to appreciate situations and actions that can only be justified by, often very subtle, elements of the social politics which are part of the story. Of course, as the title would suggest, the book also deals with a form of racism, but not in the way one might expect. Engineered genetics are a reality in this book, and this shifts the premise of the discussion to a level which I think very few people would and should feel comfortable with. Few things in this book are clear cut, and this makes both the characters and the setting feel more believable. All in all, it is wonderfully difficult to pin down what this book is actually about. On its surface it could be seen simply as a sci-fi thriller. However, parts of the book also work well as a “what if?” philosophical discussion, using a future setting to discuss a number of complicated questions. At its best the book becomes thoughtful social commentary on a hypothetical society where a number of issues that exist today are amplified. I took issue with a few things in this book. Quite often it comes dangerously close to being corny and overdone. Most of the time it succeeds in not crossing the line, which makes for a very entertaining and fast-paced read. However, at one point it crosses the line into corny and overdone so thoroughly and completely that it becomes silly, and just feels weird and out of place. Overall I think this is a great book, and I’m not generally a sci-fi fan. This is a book with a story and characters that I think would hold their own in any universe. In some places it is a little rough around the edges for my taste, but I’m sure this is part of the appeal for genre fans.