Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Carl Marsalis is a thirteen, a genetically engineered being created by a government program to be super soldiers. He is now a bounty hunter for the UN ordered to hunt down rogue thirteens and capture them dead or alive. After his last assignment leaves him filled with doubts, he lands in Florida prison. Soon however, government agents come to him for help. A rogue thirteen from Mars has crashed a spaceship and is apparently killing people at random. Carl must find him, but he knows that as one thirteen to another, this will be a battle to the death.
Well, I pretty much agree with Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist on this one. Gritty, fast-paced, and action-packed, Thirteen is a very enjoyable book that deals with the problems and consequences of genetic engineering. I like how Marsalis constantly struggles to overcome his programming and interact with normal people. The convoluted plot keeps one guessing on what will happen next, and while the ending is not as good as it could have been, I think it was appropriate for the main character. I totally disagree with Del Ray’s decision to change the title of the book from Black Man to Thirteen. While Thirteen may be a more accurate title plot-wise, are we still uncomfortable enough that such a drastic step is necessary?
For all that it’s a good book, it does have a few flaws. For one thing, Marsalis always happened to be right. Now I can see how a thirteen’s viewpoint can make for a good detective and that it would be important for tracking down a similar character, but I just don’t buy the idea that Marsalis has a inherent psychological advantage just because of his genes. Granted, a thirteen would have a bit of a different mindset than non-engineered being, but the base code is still human. A keen analytical mind would be able to reach the same conclusions.
I also don’t buy Morgan’s depiction of Jesusland. Certainly the capacity is there, but that’s true of any society in history and I feel that Morgan took the Bible belt stereotypes to the extreme.
While Morgan seems to have taken the easy way out in some places, the book is quite book good and definitely recommended.
Rating: 8.5/10.

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