Review of Thirteen by Richard K. Morgan

SFFaudio Review

Tantor Audio - Thirteen by Richard K. Morgan

Thirteen
By Richard K. Morgan; Read by Simon Vance
18 CDs or 3 MP3-CDs – Approx. 23 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Published: July 2007
ISBN: 1400104319 (CDs), 1400154316 (MP3-CDs)
Themes: / Science Fiction / Noir / Mystery / Hard Boiled / Genetic Engineering /

Carl Marsalis is a traitor, a bringer of death, a genetic freak and an unwelcome reminder of all that is dark in the human psyche – he in every sense of the word a Black Man. And right at the moment he’s beyond the UN’s jurisdiction, banged up in a Florida jail for financing an illegal abortion. So when the US police call, Carl cuts a deal. The 13s are genetically engineered alpha males, designed to fight the century’s last conflicts. But men bred and designed to fight are dangerous to have around in peacetime. Many of them have left for Mars, but one has returned. Somehow he survived the journey to Earth, and now a series of brutal slayings has erupted across America. Only Carl can stop him. And so begins a frenetic man hunt and a battle for survival. And a search for the truth about what was really done with the world’s last soldiers.

I find Richard K. Morgan, in his rare interviews, offers deep insights into his work. In regards to Thirteen (called Black Man in the U.K.), he describes it as: “An accidentally lengthy meditation on elements of the human condition that the Kovacs books [Altered Carbon etc.] always had the capacity to sidestep – namely, the prison of our own flesh, and the inevitable doom of our own mortality.” And its true, Morgan delivers action and cogitation on action. The setting, a grimly-futuristic Earth and the characters play out the consequences of a well thought out backstory. In Thirteen it seems that various experiments in genetic engineering have lead to at least thirteen strains of humanity. Like all good hard-boiled mysteries it has a fully realized backstory that predominates the main-stage machinations. Carl Marsalis is our anti-hero. He’s one of a small group of genetically engineered super-soldiers who were created by the British government for military use. In Thirteen, Morgan has created a grim future – one that is different from his detailed Altered Carbon and Market Forces worlds – but no less vivid. Years ago, in our future, a new arms race ran rampant, every nation with super-power ambitions started making genetic super-soldiers, others side stepped into crossbreeding bonobos sexual appetites and attitudes into humans. Add in a new racism bound to genetics, the old racism based on skin tone, the potential return of Jesus Christ, a dissolved United States of America, and international intrigue plays out from South America to Asia Minor and Mars – and you get a very rich premise. Carl Marsalis is a dour, taciturn anti-hero, but he’s pretty compassionate for a sociopath. His genes and something called “mesh” (another Richard K. Morgan edge-giver like “neuro chem” from Altered Carbon) and martial arts from Mars make him one bad-ass Brit. If there’s a weakness with the story, it’s the intricacy, there’s almost too much backstory – this leads to too many scenes where little bits of information get doled out. The addition of well more than a dozen characters for Marsalis to tangle with make the whole novel feel long. Thankfully, there’s a perfect ending capping this thoughtfully Noir Science Fiction novel.

Tantor Audio tapped Simon Vance to voice Thirteen, he also narrated Morgan’s Market Forces. Vance brings his a growing body of experience to work with him, and manages to nail a lot of accents in this continent bounding tale. The only point I was shaken from the narrative came when Vance used what sounded like a Charlie Chan impression for a female Chinese character. So far Tantor’s had a lock on the Richard K. Morgan audiobook market so I’m hoping they’re planning on recording The Steel Remains, his forthcoming novel too.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Faster Than Light – interviews with Richard K. Morgan, Stephen Donaldson, MORE

SFFaudio Online Audio

Faster Than Light podcastThe Faster Than Light “radio show” and podcast, originating from Australia, offers plenty of interviews of interest. Each program also has reviews of new and classic Science Fiction books.

Interview with Stephen Donaldson Part 1 |MP3| Part 2 |MP3|

Interview with Elizabeth Moon |MP3|

Interview with Shawn Williams |MP3|

Interview with Ian McDonald |MP3|

Interview with Richard K. Morgan Part 1 |MP3| and Part 2 |MP3|

Subscribe to the podcast via this feed:

http://www.fasterthanlight.org/podcast/pod.xml

Posted by Jesse Willis

Recent Arrivals – Asimov, Richard K. Morgan & Audiodrama

Science Fiction Audiobook Recent Arrivals

Science Fiction Audio Drama - Tears of the Tin God by T. Ray GordonTears of the Tin God
By T. Ray Gordon; Narrated by Richard Sellers, Full Cast
1 CD, 80 min.- [AUDIODRAMA]
Publisher: Apex Audio Theatre
Published: 2007

Honorable Mention for the 2006 Mark Time Science Fiction Award.

On a distant world, monolithic alien machines are discovered, some as large a skyscraper. The spacecraft Columbus and her sister ship, the Magellan, are dispatched to investigate. Upon arrival, contact is lost with one ship and an astrornaut is dead, or is he? Soon it is revealed that at least one of the great machines is operational.

Commander Gina Adams must now determine the purpose of the alien mechanisms. . . even at the cost of the lives of her crew and the safety of her ship. A giant has awoke from it’s eons of slumber. . . now the universe itself will tremble.

The Naked Sun by Isaac AsimovThe Naked Sun
By Isaac Asimov; Read by William Dufris
7 CDs or 1 MP3-CD – 8 Hours 30 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Media
Published: June 2007
ISBN: 140010422X (CDs), 1400154227 (MP3-CD)

A millennium into the future, two advancements have altered the course of human history: the colonization of the Galaxy and the creation of the positronic brain.

On the beautiful Outer World planet of Solaria, a handful of human colonists lead a hermit-like existence, their every need attended to by their faithful robot servants. To this strange and provocative planet comes Detective Elijah Baley, sent from the streets of New York with his positronic partner, the robot R. Daneel Olivaw, to solve an incredible murder that has rocked Solaria to its foundations.

The victim had been so reclusive that he appeared to his associates only through holographic projection. Yet someone had gotten close enough to bludgeon him to death while robots looked on. Now Baley and Olivaw are faced with two clear impossibilities: Either the Solarian was killed by one of his robots—unthinkable under the laws of Robotics—or he was killed by the woman who loved him so much that she never came into his presence!

Science Fiction Audiobook - Thirteen by Richard K. Morgan Thirteen
By Richard K. Morgan; Read by Simon Vance
18 CDs or 3 MP3-CDs -Approx. 23 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Published: July 2007 (�)
ISBN: 1400104319 (CDs), 1400154316 (MP3-CDs)

Thirteen is near-future science fiction, very much in the vein of Bladerunner. A failed government program to produce a more violent, aggressive form of military fighter has resulted in the U.S. rounding up most of the test subjects and isolating them on Mars, a place where no one with any sense would wish to spend their days. But not all of the government subjects have been caught and shipped out to Mars. Enter Carl Marsalis, a hit man who would like nothing more than to stop killing and put his past behind him—and when he’s eventually captured in Miami, it seems like the government might take care of his problems for him.

Unfortunately, around the same time a transport from Mars arrives back on earth. The entire crew has been killed by a stowaway who turns out to be one of these violent superhumans—and maybe something worse. Now Marsalis is given a choice: use his heightened powers to hunt down the killer, or face a fate worse than death.

Tantor Audio offers several Exciting new titles for Spring & Summer 2007

SFFaudio News

Audiobook Publisher - Tantor AudioTantor Audio has some very exciting Speculative Fiction titles on the horizon! First up, there is a simultaneous release of a new Harry Turtledove Alternate History novel, quite far out is the new Richard K. Morgan audiobook (o0f which we have absolutely no plot info) AND best of all there are THREE Isaac Asimov Mystery/Science Fiction classics coming! There are even more titles too!!!

Beyond the Gap
By Harry Turtledove; Read by William Dufris
12 CDs or 2 MP3-CDs – Approx 15 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Published: February 2007 (?)
ISBN: 1400103827 (CD), 1400153824 (MP3-CD)
“In this promising first of a new saga, alternate-history maven Turtledove (Ruled Britannia) depicts a Bronze Age society in transition. A growing gap in the glacier that has formed the Raumsdalian Empire’s northern border for millennia allows Count Hamnet Thyssen and Trasamund the jarl, of the nomadic Northern Bizogot, to become the empire’s Lewis and Clark. They and their entourage, which inconveniently includes Hamnet’s unfaithful ex-wife, Gudrid, depart the empire’s capital city, Nidaris, to explore what lies beyond the glacier and search for the fabled Golden Shrine. On the way, a formidable and attractive (if unbathed) Bizogot shaman, Liv, joins the expedition—and Hamnet under the animal hides. If the Raumsdalians and Bizogots don’t always get along, their culture clash is nothing compared to the threat they face on the other side of the glacier: the Rulers, a tribe of imperious, mammoth-riding warriors. A vivid setting and strong characterization bode well for future installments.”

Ascent
By Jed Mercurio; Read by Todd McLaren
7 CDs or 1 MP3-CD – 8 Hours 30 minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Published: March 2007
ISBN: 1400103681 (CD), 1400153689 (MP3-CD)
Yeremin, a Soviet MiG pilot, rises from the privation of a Stalingrad orphanage to the heights of the cosmonaut corps. During the Korean War, as a member of an elite squadron, he shoots down the most American fighter jets—a feat that should make him a national hero, but because the Soviets’ involvement in the war is secret, Yeremin’s victories go unreported. When he is recalled from obscurity to join the race to the Moon, he realizes it is his chance for immortality.

Caves Of Steel
By Isaac Asimov; Read by William Dufris
7 CDs or 1 MP3-CD – 8 hrs 30 min [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Published: May 2007 (?)
ISBN: 1400104211 (CD), 1400154219 (MP3-CD)
A millennium into the future, two advancements have altered the course of human history: the colonization of the galaxy and the creation of the positronic brain. Isaac Asimov’s Robot novels chronicle the unlikely partnership between a New York City detective and a humanoid robot who must learn to work together. Like most people left behind on an over-populated Earth, New York City police detective Elijah Baley had little love for either the arrogant Spacers or their robotic companions. But when a prominent Spacer is murdered under mysterious circumstances, Baley is ordered to the Outer Worlds to help track down the killer. The relationship between Baley and his Spacer superiors, who mistrusted all Earthmen, was strained from the start. Then he learned that they had assigned him a partner: R. Daneel Olivaw. Worst of all was that the “R” stood for robot—and his positronic partner was made in the image and likeness of the murder victim!

The Society Of S
By Susan Hubbard; Read by Joyce Bean
8 Audio CDs or 1 MP3-CD – 10 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Published: May 2007 (?)
ISBN: 1400104262 (CDs), 140015426X (MP3-CD)
Ariella Montero is seeking the true identities of her mother and father—and of herself. She’s been taught literature, philosophy, science, and history, but she knows almost nothing about the real world and its complexities. Her world is one wherein ghosts and vampires commune with humans; where Edgar Allan Poe and Jack Kerouac are role models; where every time a puzzle seems solved, its last piece changes the entire picture.

The Naked Sun
By Isaac Asimov; Read by William Dufris
7 CDs or 1 MP3-CD – 8 hrs 30 min [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Published: June 2007 (?)
ISBN: 140010422X (CD), 1400154227 (MP3-CD)
A millennium into the future, two advancements have altered the course of human history: the colonization of the Galaxy and the creation of the positronic brain. On the beautiful Outer World planet of Solaria, a handful of human colonists lead a hermit-like existence, their every need attended to by their faithful robot servants. To this strange and provocative planet comes Detective Elijah Baley, sent from the streets of New York with his positronic partner, the robot R. Daneel Olivaw, to solve an incredible murder that has rocked Solaria to its foundations. The victim had been so reclusive that he appeared to his associates only through holographic projection. Yet someone had gotten close enough to bludgeon him to death while robots looked on. Now Baley and Olivaw are faced with two clear impossibilities: Either the Solarian was killed by one of his robots—unthinkable under the laws of Robotics—or he was killed by the woman who loved him so much that she never came into his presence!

The Robots Of Dawn
By Isaac Asimov; Read by William Dufris
13 CDs or 2 MP3-CDs – 15 hrs 30 min [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Published: July 2007 (?)
ISBN: 1400104238 (CD), 1400154235 (MP3-CD)
A puzzling case of roboticide sends New York Detective Elijah Baley on an intense search for a murderer. Armed with his own instincts, his quirky logic, and the immutable Three Laws of Robotics, Baley is determined to solve the case. But can anything prepare a simple Earthman for the psychological complexities of a world where a beautiful woman can easily have fallen in love with an all-too-human robot?

Thirteen
By Richard K. Morgan; Read by Simon Vance
22 CDs or 3 MP3-CDs -Approx. 27 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Published: July 2007 (�)
ISBN: 1400104319 (CDs), 1400154316 (MP3-CDs)

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Tertiary Phase Wins Audiobook of the Year

SFFaudio News

Science Fiction Audio Drama - The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy Tertiary PhaseThis just in – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Tertiary Phase was named the Audiobook of the Year by the Audio Publisher’s Association at this weekend’s Audie Awards! Congratulations to adapter/director Dirk Maggs and everyone involved with it. It’s fantastic to see a science fiction audio drama win this award. See the SFFaudio review of this title here.

In a tough Science Fiction category, the winner was Market Forces by Richard K. Morgan. Find the SFFaudio review here.

Genre winners in other categories:

Classic
Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne, read by Jim Dale, Listening Library

Children’s Titles for Ages 8+
The Star of Kazan by Eva Ibbotson, read by Patricia Conolly, Recorded Books

Solo Narration – Female
Davina Porter for A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon

Audio Drama
The Sherlock Holmes Theatre by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, performed by a cast, produced by Yuri Rasovsky, Blackstone Audio
ed – OK, this may not technically be a genre title, but most SF fans like Holmes, and Yuri Rasovsky has genre ties, including the excellent 2000X series.

Achievement in Production
At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald, performed by a cast, Focus on the Family

Not a bad genre showing! Find the complete list of winners and nominees at www.theaudies.com. Unfortunately, the website is a little cryptic as of this writing – to see the winners and nominees, you’ve got to download a 6Mb PDF file that is titled “The Audies Sampler”. If I can find a clean HTML list, I’ll let you know.

Halo Novels Slated For Audiobook Release Get Axe

SFFaudio News

3 Halo AudiobooksAudio Renaissance‘s recently released Perfect Dark: Condition Zero may have been just the first of a new trend, the video game tie-in novel coming to audio. But it now it looks like that trend may never really materialize. See, there were plans afoot to release three audiobooks based around the incredibly popular XBox game called Halo but those plans have now been scrubbed. Apparently the rights-holder a small but feisty computer company called Microsoft, based out of Redmond, WA, has pulled the three slated audiobooks from the publication schedule! Here’s the kicker, the recordings for all three were already completed at the time of the pull! The narrator for all three was reportedly the talented Todd McLaren (who performed the first two Richard K. Morgan novels for Tantor Media). If you’re a Halo fan you’re probably bunny-hopping mad right now. To vent this frustration I suggest you either load up your fuel rod rifle or write your congressman.