Saturday, June 9, 2007

"Black Man" by Richard K. Morgan

There's a certain kind of techno thriller for which I am a total sucker. Actually, I guess I should clarify and say that there's a certain techno-thriller author for whom I am a total sucker.

Final clarification: I'm a sucker for Richard K. Morgan's techno-thrillers.

Absolute last clarification: Richard Morgan's techno-thrillers are so good that you don't feel like a sucker for loving them.

Final absolute last clarification: Richard Morgan's books aren't really techno-thrillers, tho' they are thrilling and contain much techno. Unlike most of the genre, Sieur Morgan's books contain real characters, people that the reader can care about and they have real plot lines with real tension, as well as endlessly inventive details that riff so well off today's technology that they seem only too probable.

Sieur Morgan has a new novel out: Black Man (U.K. title) or in the U.S. Thirteen.

And it's delicious. So delicious in fact, that I read all 560 pages in one MARATHON sitting. (Actually, lying on the bed with the book propped up on a pillow--it's pretty hefty.)

Set in a not-so-distant future, Thirteen takes on genetic engineering, the feminization of post-modern culture, the balkanization of countries and the colonization of Mars. Yeah, that's a lot of -izations, but throw them in a blender with cannibalism, cool war-tech, futuristic police-work, and rogue genetic soldiers and you've got a wild ride. Thirteen is full of super neat flourishes--from guns that shoot bullets that infect the shootee with a deadly incurable disease to a forensic program that allows the police to watch a recreation of a crime in 360 degree cyberspace. It's got the requisite tech-noir Phillip Marlow (only he has something Marlow never had--an extra chromosome) and a kick-ass police officer who is a cross between Emma Peel and Starbuck.

Thirteen is fabulous. It's a fun popcorn book that also raises some extremely deliberate questions about the ethics of science, the construction of gender roles in the post-modern world, and a bunch of other interesting issues which help to raise the book above popcorn fare and make it quite trenchant, actually.

I have only one tiny little nitpick with Thirteen, but since it's a spoiler, I'm going to keep that nitpick to myself. When you've read it, get back to me, and we'll discuss.

And thank you thank you to Sieur Morgan for sending me Black Man.

And why the heck is Hollywood wasting all its time making horrible remakes Philip K. Dick books when they could be filming Sieur Morgan's books--they were born to be movies. Get right on that, Hollywood!

"Instead of lawyers, guns and money, we are given cannibals, guns and money. The substitution is most welcome." The Warlord's Wear Weekly.

"Watch out, there's a new sheriff in town, and he's packing heat, an extra chromosome, and enough macho to melt concrete. An anti-hero for an anti-world." The Fort Gehenna Excelsior

"An interesting study of modern police techniques, with a particular emphasis on forensics and ballistics. A must read for the up-to-date P.I.G." Journal of the Police Inspector General (P.I.G)

"Lurid, sensationalistic, melodramatic, hyper, histrionic, hysteric, brutal--in other words, perfect. Read it now, or weep." The Alta Califa


Dave said...

Serendipitous. I polished off Woken Furies a few days ago in a jury room. (Not picked.) I'm interested to see where Morgan goes with a non-Takeshi Kovacs story.

Paul Witcover said...

It's actually a lot closer to Kovacs than his other non-Kovacs book, Market Forces.

Unknown said...

Thanks, Madama. Will order. Over the weekend I gobbled down two of your earlier recommendations. Add me to the Elizabeth Hand worshipers. Deeep salaam for Generation Loss. "I am not wortheeee ...." Also great, but completely different, was Bermudez Triangle. Madama Maureen does "real" really, really well. It would take a true cretin to think there was anything immoral about that sweet little story. And did I already tell you I read and enjoyed the Michel Faber?

Ysabeau Wilce said...

You have excellent taste in literature, madama...!