Black Man (Thirteen) by Richard Morgan
|'"Fucking right, not us. You know how they breed contemporary humans from a thirteen? You fucking domesticate them. Same thing they did with wolves to make them into dogs... You Select for fucking tameness, Marsalis. For lack of aggression, and for compliance. And you know how you get that?"|
...You get it by taking immature individuals, individuals showing the characteristics of fucking puppies."
"We're the only thing that scares those people because we won't comply, we won't stay infantile and go out and play nice in their plastic fucking world."
-Richard Morgan, Black Man
I have something of a man-crush on Richard Morgan. I can admit it.
I've been reading his books for five or so years now, ever since I chanced across the Phillip K. Dick award winning Altered Carbon in my local used book store. To say I was gratified when I finally got around to reading it is something of an understatement.
Altered Carbon is among the very best science fiction books of this young millennium, and although Morgan has written 3 fine novels in the interim between AC and Black Man, it seemed he may never again reach the heights of his debut novel. (This is too often the case with writers, after all.)
Well, Black Man is better. And not insignificantly so. Black Man is the best science fiction novel of the year. Black Man is the most thought-provoking and stirring science fiction novel I have ever read.
Morgan tackles racism and the many faces of religion today and tomorrow; war, politics and the very nature of masculinity. Six or so months removed from my initial reading of this work, I still find myself internally debating ideas expressed here, finding I have no answers. I'll save the plot summaries for Amazon; just read this book.
And then go here to buy your membership so that you may nominate it for the Hugo.
10/10 (If you read only one book this year, etc, etc.)
Do the SF community a favor and import this one from the U.K. (While you still can.) Gollancz published this title as it was written; Black Man. Del Rey, on the other hand, shied away from the controversial title, renaming it Thirteen for the United States.
As for the future value of this title, well..
Look, one of these days Morgan is going to be recognized for what he is; the best combination of sheer readability and thought-provoking ideas we've had in science fiction since Robert Heinlein was good. U.K. First editions of Altered Carbon are selling for around 800 dollars, and I still view that as a sound investment. Buy the book, enjoy the book, and if the value inflates as it ought, you can thank me later.