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Black Man (GOLLANCZ S.F.) Paperback – 1 Nov 2007

3.6 out of 5 stars 98 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; paperback / softback edition (1 Nov. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575078138
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575078130
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3.9 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 105,809 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Book Description

A sensational new thriller from the international bestselling and multi-award winning star of SF combines a savage man-hunt with speculation on the dangers of genetic engineering.

Review

"This is writing with the brakes off and the adrenaline pumped to high." (Liz Holliday SCI-FI NOW)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
If you've read Richard Morgan's other sci-fi novels, especially those featuring Takeshi Kovacs, then you might think twice about picking up Black Man. It's set in a different scenario and Kovacs (a compelling and complicated character) is no where to be found. So the unfamiliar setting and the weird cover design (it almost seems deliberately constructed to distance this book from Morgan's established series) might sway you to put down Black Man and buy something else instead.
Mistake!
The world of Black Man is another brilliantly constructed, plausible near future. It's scarily close to ours, so many of the superstates are recognisable evolutions of the current political structure. America has fractured into a bible-belt 'JesusLand' and the Union. The major global superpower is the Rim (the Pacific Rim). The technology is based on extrapolations of what we have now -- evercrete replaces concrete, and coffee comes in instant-heat containers -- but the majority of the players are still humans. Just.
There's a colony growing on Mars, corporate influence corrupting the push into space, space-elevators lifting raw materials to and from the surface of earth into low orbit, and shuttle running on the long, long journey to and from Mars.

Into this situation come a set of believable characters; the augmented, hyped-up 'good' guy; the demobbed uber-soldier spawned by genetic experiment who shouldn't be on earth but is; the weary, chemical-assisted police woman. Their paths knit together as the plot progresses -- and Morgan nevers shies away from hot-blooded action and eye-raising plot twists. The only downside is the sheer volume of new stuff which is slung at the reader in the first couple of chapters; you have to get up to speed with a whole new universe pretty quickly.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I bought this on a recommendation from Amazon's robots, because they'd spotted that I like William Gibson - especially the earlier, more action-y stuff. I wasn't expecting too much actually, I thought from the blurb it would be an entertainingly workmanlike cyberpunk thriller.

I'm very pleased to have been wrong.

Sure it starts out like just another Blade Runner, with slightly too much `techy' language thrown in to remind us that it's set some hundred years in the future. (Although it does certainly work well on that level. Main protagonist Marsalis can't stay out of trouble for more than half a chapter.)

As the book progresses though, its grip tightens until you can't bear to do anything else but read what happens next.

I see from some of the other reviews that not everyone liked the `twist' about two-thirds of the way through the book where Morgan, in one of the book's few talky chapters, rotates the entire plot through 180 degrees and the whole thing clicks together like a Rubik Cube. I loved it.

It reminded me of a similar pivotal scene in The Maltese Falcon, justifying the `noir' as well as the `tech' in my headline.

This book is solid entertainment, and if it really isn't Morgan's best then I'm even more glad that I've just loaded my iPad Kindle app with his entire back catalogue.

And a great ending. Not 100% original, but absolutely right.
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Format: Hardcover
Carl Marsalis is a variant Thirteen -- one of the genetically engineered subjects of a failed government/military program to create the deadliest of soldiers. He is now a hit man with a UN mandate to find and dispatch rogue Thirteens. The problem is that Carl has lost the will to kill. When a job takes a turn for the worse and he's arrested in Miami, Carl believes that he can now leave his troubled past behind him. Unbeknownst to him, what appears to be a mentally unstable Thirteen returns from Mars and crashes the ship he's on in the Pacific, only to reappear later and leave a trail of corpses in his wake for no apparent reason. Soon afterward, government officials show up to bail Carl out of jail. In exchange, they want his expertise to help them deal what those seemingly random murders. Unfortunately, it won't take long for him to realize that there is much more to this than meets the eye.

Morgan's writing style and his fine eye for details make the narrative leap off the pages. The author truly knows how to make the story come alive, and I found the imagery quite compelling.

The worldbuilding is interesting, though Morgan doesn't delve too much on how it all came to pass. The USA have imploded and the country has split into three separate States: the Pacific Rim, the North Atlantic Union, and the Republic, also known as Jesusland. China is now a superpower and the rest of the world appears hard-pressed to keep up with them. It is a fascinating backdrop, to be sure, and it's too bad Richard Morgan didn't spend a bit more time explaining how it all unfolded.

The characterizations are well-done, the dialogues gritty. The author knows how to keep the readers interested by allowing us to learn more about the characters by increments.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
There seems to be a consensus that this isn't so much SF as a hard-boiled thriller in SF clothing. That presumes SF has particular, definable characteristics, of course, which historically it simply has never had: it has always been diverse, was always in the process of being reinvented. particularly in regard to its relation to other genres (like hard-boiled thrillers). And if we therefore throw that opinion aside - - - well, this is just wonderful, frankly, and if it doesn't at least come into CONSIDERATION for your Best 10 Sci Fi Ever list you're just stupid.

Why? Let me count the ways. The writing is terrific - sharp, intelligent, a pleasure in itself, and that is by no means usual in this genre. It engages directly with a number of political issues that are pressing today, including race (and its intellectual substrate, genetics), gender, globalisation and multinationals, weaving them together. The conclusion does what Morgan does best, reflects the themes that permeate the entire piece, so that there is a satisfying circularity and right-ness at the finish ('We're the real humans' - you'll understand when you get there). Yes, it does work as a hard-boiled thriller, but that is an asset, driving the story through, adding an extra layer of pleasure. And yes, it is kind of cyberpunk - but it's sharper, more engaged, better written than any cyberpunk I have ever read, including He Who Must Not Be Named. And - let's say it again - it is satisfyingly intelligent. This is an overtly political novel that nevertheless refuses to be preachy, for it doesn't tell you about its politics so much as embed them in its invented world and its action. Buy this.
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