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Thirteen | [Richard K. Morgan]

Thirteen

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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?

©2007 Richard K. Morgan; (P)2007 Tantor Media Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Stellar." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (1048 )
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3.9 (392 )
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  •  
    L. Travelers Rest, SC, United States 07-10-07
    L. Travelers Rest, SC, United States 07-10-07 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "WOW, Morgan Does it again!"

    When I read "Altered Carbon" I said it was the New book by which I would judge all others. Morgan just keeps writing excellent books in the "Used Future", and not just the same books with the same characters (which I actually wouldn't mind seeing with the Takeshi Kovacs series), but different people in different settings in different time periods... he constantly proves he's multi-talented and can write on any level. He writes the way I wish *I* could.

    I researched Morgan a bit and found out we are on opposite ends of the political spectrum, and I was probably misreading the social commentary written into his work, or maybe not, because as I have said before, "If the Left could accept guns, and the Right could accept drugs, we'd all be closer to the middle than most people think".

    "Thirteen", was another of those books that I couldn't put down. "MP3 player in the pocket until it was done", etc... and then I had to reflect on it a few days to let it soak in before writing a review.

    The Sex is hardcore, NOT for the Kiddies, but it's not just stuck in there "out of place". I didn't think it detracted from the story any.

    I don't know if Morgan actually shoots a lot or not (Probably not, being an academic in the U.K.), or if he just sticks in "people being blown backward by gun shots" because people expect it due to TV (I suspect this is the case)... "Stopping power" is a myth (do the math, F=MA) except with artillery shells and the like, and Morgan knows that a table won't stop bullets (on TV people can hide behind cardboard boxes safely), but then he talks about people being blown out doors and windows from being hit by a slug. Still, minor technicalities aside (for whatever reason they are in the book) it's an EXCELLENT book.

    I wish I could give it 4.5 stars, and the only reason I didn't give it 5 stars was because it wasn't quite "Altered Carbon", however it was better than Market Forces, IMHO.

    24 of 26 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. HOPPER Duluth, GA USA 11-17-08
    J. HOPPER Duluth, GA USA 11-17-08 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent"

    When I think about this novel, I keep wanting to describe it as an "adult" book. Not in the sex/violence way that most people think of when they hear "adult", but more as a grown-up book with grown-up themes. There is sex and violence in the book, but they're not what the book is about. It's about the characters, and the society they live in. It's not always pretty, but neither is real life. But it's almost always engaging.

    I had a little trouble at the beginning getting used to the reader and the story. But after the first couple of hours, I was hooked. I stayed up till 3 in the morning to finish listening to it.

    Highly recommended.

    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Grant Loving Los Angeles, CA United States 12-10-09
    Grant Loving Los Angeles, CA United States 12-10-09 Member Since 2003

    Show me your paso doble.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "It's Morgan what do you expect?"

    The main reason I love Morgan's work is because he uses filthy dirty language, has explicit sex scenes, awesome smashing-peoples-faces in scenes, and generally has kick-ass character dialog. Sometimes I get bored with goody two shoeses authors like Orson Scott Card or Stephenie Meyer. I think bashing him because he has his own style is a little unfair. Not everything in SciFi is squeaky clean. And to that point, I honestly don't care what Morgan writes about. He could write about cooking breakfast for all I care, it is his style that is refreshing. I chuckle each time I hear Simon Vance's voice speaking down to someone. I mean, that is one of the best parts of Morgan's style, especially when Vance calls someone a "Mother F-cker." And if you think Morgan objectifies women... well he does, thats the whole point. But in his other book The Steel Remains, he has some pretty explicit gay sex scenes. So he objectifies everyone :)

    If you want a change of pace, and are not offended by strong language, or graphic sex, and fighting, then give Richard K. Morgan's work a listen.

    You might also enjoy Neal Stephenson's Diamond Age, Snow Crash. There is a rape scene in Snow Crash.

    Hunter's Run by By George R. R. Martin, Gardner Dozois, Daniel Abraham, lots of Spanish cursing in that one.

    11 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephen McLeod New York, NY USA 08-22-08
    Stephen McLeod New York, NY USA 08-22-08 Member Since 2007
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    "Brilliant"

    Richard K. Morgan, author of the sci-fi masterpiece, "Altered Carbon", is one of the most interesting and talented writings working today. "Thirteen" may be his most ambitious and brilliant novel so far.

    In the 22nd century, humans have colonized Mars, which remains a frontier outpost - think the Wild Wild West. The shuttle and back and forth from Earth is so long, people are suspended in cryogenic sleep while their space ships travel on auto pilot. At the beginning of this novel, one such ship crashes, unexpectedly before its scheduled arrival on earth. When rescue workers reach and enter the wreck, they discover a gruesome scene. All the "cryo-capped" passengers have been removed, dismembered and, apparently, eaten.

    The principal suspect is a "thirteen" - a genetic variant specially bred to do violence. Thus begins a "detective" story of operatic proportions that calls to mind the epic noir of James Ellroy in "The Big Nowhere" and "L.A. Confidential". But for the futuristic setting, "Thirteen" follows a similar story arc, with fully developed characters that I cared about, and twists and turns that will surprise you I guarantee.

    This is an adult book, full of steamy sex and brutal violence. Which is all okay with me. Only one problem distracts, but not enough to lose a star: too much use of the "F" word. I am not a person who is put off by that word and its variants. It just seemed excessive and oddly tone-deaf here - consistent with this British writer's slightly off-kilter North American dialogue.

    Narrator Simon Vance, as usual, is amazing in his capacity to give specific voices to each character so smoothly that one forgets that it isn't a full cast.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Erick los angeles, CA, USA 08-03-07
    Erick los angeles, CA, USA 08-03-07 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent book,"

    Another thought-provoking tale from Mr. Morgan. One warning though, this is not your parents or grandparent sci-fi writing. This is not Arthur C. Clark or Robert Heinlein, this is down-to-earth, with lots of graphic sex and foul language book. Also, if you are an easily offended Christian, this may no be your cup of tea. However, if you want a vision (although a grim one) of the near future and find tales where character are a mixture of good and evil with lots of interesting ideas. You, as i did, will enjoy this book.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    B. Connelly 07-31-07
    B. Connelly 07-31-07 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Awesome but not for the faint of heart"

    Holy freaking Jesusland what an awesome book!!! This book is great but NOT for the faint of heart easily offended those who dislike graphic descriptions of sex & violence those who find profanity distasteful or those in a christian sect who feel fiction that disparages their religion should be burned in a great big bond fire. Also I read another review that says the book is anti American and I must point out that the book is only against the future america it depicts the book actually states the current america is the GREATEST COUNTRY ON EARTH some people should listen with more care.
    If on the other hand you like cyberpunk dont have a problem with the above mentioned things like a great story and enjoy listening to someone skilled at reading who give a distinct voice to each character so you know whos talking as soon as the accent changes THIS IS THE BOOK FOR YOU.
    I have not listened to any other books in the cyberpunk style and have read very few so Im not reviewing this book as die hard cyberpunk fan just as a die hard audiobook and great story fan. This is one of the books in my library that I will listen to many times (mostly in the approximately 25 days after I have downloaded my 2 new books from audible and finished listening to them).
    A final thought if you look at the reviews you will see they generally have 1 thing in common: this book elicited a strong almost viceral opinion. This is NOT something that happens with bad writing. The word "boring" has not been used. To me at least the only offensive writing is writing that is boring. If this is how you feel as well give this a listen.

    11 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alcairha White Plains, NY United States 08-29-09
    Alcairha White Plains, NY United States 08-29-09 Member Since 2004
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    "A sociological treatise, not a sci fi thriller"

    I loved Altered Carbon, but this book was a disappointment - full of endless infodump punctuated by short bursts of extreme violence. The characters lecture each other endlessly about politics and changes in social structure, to the absurd degree that a mobster lectures his intended victim at great length rather than shooting, fighting or even just arguing. Same thing with the lovers, endless general discussions of politics interspersed with graphic sex scenes that come out of nowhere and don't go anywhere. On top of that, the character's every motion is described to a minute degree (her smile curled slightly, reminding him of how he felt...he saw her hair move softly in the shadows, watched her shoulder twitch and on and on and on). Basically the entire plot comes to a screeching halt. I finally gave up mid-way. There are some very inventive ideas here, but no story flow and no engaging characters. This book badly needed a good editor. Even Simon Vance, who is an excellent reader, is miscast. He can't do Spanish accents - makes them all sound slightly Asian, and there are a lot of South American characters in this story.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Gelissen 05-13-08
    J. Gelissen 05-13-08 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Did not deliver."

    This story had a great plot with the potential to deliver a great read, but it bored me to no end! I really wanted to like this book, but it plodded along convoluted story lines to end somewhat anticlimactically. I don't think the pace of the narration does this book any favors either.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Forest Eugene, OR, United States 07-02-07
    Forest Eugene, OR, United States 07-02-07 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Another Splendid Read."

    Written a little in the cyberpunk style, but that is not where the treat really lives in this book. Richard K. Morgan plays against today’s society in such a way that 'Thirteen' is reminiscent of the crucible.

    Mr. Morgan has written a fantastic book about the future we live with right now. He asks of his characters questions you and your friends are, or should be asking right now. This is a terrific listen, which will leave you thinking, and entertained.

    The reader does a good job of maintaining his characters, and their accents. This makes for a smooth transition between characters.

    A wonderful surprise, Mr. Morgan, one I will read/listen to several more times before I answer the questions the book brought forth for me. I hope you will continue to write these entertaining, and thought provoking era pieces.

    15 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nathan Woodstock, GA, USA 09-21-08
    Nathan Woodstock, GA, USA 09-21-08
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    "Certainly worth it ..."

    I have been in a sci-fi mood lately and this one fit the bill nicely and what was more satisfying was the fact that this was one of those completely random titles I downloaded and found myself interested in it enough to listen to it twice.

    Excellent book which I wouldn't mind having turned into a series but this one is tied up pretty well so I doubt that'll ever happen.

    Well written, well narrated! Science has created several variants on the human gene by splicing and doing the dastardly with them and in doing so they created a group of super soldiers as well, called Variant 13. Most of them have either been killed off or shipped off to camps or Mars as they are just too dangerous to allow out in public but a few of them have managed to get out amongst humanity or to break out of captivity.

    This is where the main character of the book comes in as he is a twist who hunts twists (derogatory name for variants), and he is one intelligent and hard assed individual .. but then he has been made, and trained to be that.

    Pick it up, you'll enjoy it.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
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