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Counting Heads Paperback – 16 Oct 2007

2.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Trade; Reprint edition (16 Oct. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765317540
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765317544
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.9 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 623,684 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Praise for David Marusek:
"David Marusek is an extraordinarily gifted new writer, with unique ears and eyes . . . .Brims over with imaginative extrapolations. " - Seattle- Post Intelligencer
" David Marusek ' s Counting Heads is the most exciting debut sf novel I ' ve read since Neuromancer . Counting Heads isn ' t just one of the best first sf novels to come down the pike in some time; it ' s one of the best novels, period. I hope David Marusek will be writing more of them for centuries to come. " - Elizabeth Hand, F & SF
" Counting Heads was one of my favorite books of last year in any category, and an exemplary entry in the sci-fi genre. " - The New York Times Book Review
" Marusek keeps a deep and textured tale spinning along, filled with stresses, shocks and sidelong looks at extrapolations of present-day trends. I took extra care to keep my copy pristine, so it ' ll be presentable when I hand it off to another reader who ' ll enjoy it as much as I did. " - The San Diego Union-Tribune
" Counting Heads is a compelling and powerful read. Marusek isn ' t afraid of asking hard questions -- nor is he afraid to try and find answers. . . .One of the best sf novels of this (and perhaps any year) Counting Heads givesus a rich mix of social commentary, speculation, and adventure, all garnished with a tiny pinch of hope. " -- Vector
" There are more ideas to the page in this auspicious debut novel than many sci-fi novels have in their entirety. . . .Marusek evokes an impelling sense of wonder with an awesomely imaginative and all-too-believable future chock full of nifty details while allowing his characters to compel the novel. Counting Heads is a marvelous must-read from an author who must be noted as an important new voice in science fiction. " -- CFQ
& nbsp; " David Marusek's first novel is a wildly inventive story of a future dependent on clones and artificial intelligence. . . . Counting Heads is thick with invention and has an action-filled plot, but Marusek shines in filling it with well-rounded characters. " - The Denver Post
& nbsp; & nbsp;
" An intriguing, inventive, and provocative look at cloning that was the best first novel of the year and one of the best SF novels of the decade so far. " -- Locus
& nbsp;
" Counting Heads is full of both invention and action. It is dense and thought-provoking, and its story pulls the reader along until the very last page. Let ' s hope there ' s more where this came from. " - Bookpage
& nbsp;
" This exciting debut adventure poses interesting questions with a healthy dose of humor and derring-do. What happens when the technology of tomorrow becomes a reality. . . .Innovative plotting and realistic characterization combine to make a believable, captivating futuristic adventure. " - Romantic Times BOOKreviews
& nbsp;
" With subplots exploring the identity problems of clones, the solutions to a particularly nasty overpopulation problem, and the remnants of some invidious " biologicals " that have required the doming-over of major cities, Marusek presents a gripping conspiracy in an uncomfortably three-dimensional future. " -- Booklist
& nbsp;
" Counting Heads exciting, major new sf novel . . . . David Marusek is one of the best-kept secrets of science fiction, a wild talent with a Gibson-grade imagination and marvelous prose, and a keen sense of human drama that makes it all go. . . .It's hard to summarize this book because again and again, the plot hinges on wonderful, original inventions, and just describing the storyline would spoil too many of David's delightful surprises. I haven't felt as buffeted by a book since Gibson's Neuromancer -- haven't felt more like I was reading something truly radical, new and exciting. . . .When David was writing short stories, he was an exciting writer. Now that he's onto novels, he's practically a force ofnature. " - Cory Doctorow
& nbsp;
" This extraordinary debut novel puts Marusek in the first rank of SF writers. . . .Marusek ' s writing is ferociously smart, simultaneously horrific and funny, as he forces readers to stretch their imaginations and sympathies. Much of the fun in the story is in the telling rather than its destination . . . .exciting and wonderful. " - Publishers Weekly
& nbsp;
" Counting Heads has every virtue of the science fiction classic it is certain to become: & nbsp; it's an utterly convincing and deeply troubling extrapolation of the right-now, its language and a technology at once new and weirdly familiar.& nbsp; But it also has qualities rare even in the greatest SF classics: & nbsp; real persons, real suffering, real costs, and a fully achieved human drama.& nbsp; Absolutely splendid. " - John Crowley

Praise for David Marusek:
"David Marusek is an extraordinarily gifted new writer, with unique ears and eyes . . . .Brims over with imaginative extrapolations." -"Seattle-""Post Intelligencer"
"David Marusek's "Counting Heads" is the most exciting debut sf novel I've read since "Neuromancer," "Counting Heads" isn't just one of the best first sf novels to come down the pike in some time; it's one of the best novels, period. I hope David Marusek will be writing more of them for centuries to come." -Elizabeth Hand, "F & SF"
""Counting Heads" was one of my favorite books of last year in any category, and an exemplary entry in the sci-fi genre." -"The New York Times Book Review"
"Marusek keeps a deep and textured tale spinning along, filled with stresses, shocks and sidelong looks at extrapolations of present-day trends. I took extra care to keep my copy pristine, so it'll be presentable when I hand it off to another reader who'll enjoy it as much as I did." -"The San Diego Union-Tribune"
""Counting Heads "is a compelling and powerful read. Marusek isn't afraid of asking hard questions--nor is he afraid to try and find answers. . . .One of the best sf novels of this (and perhaps any year) "Counting Heads" gives us a rich mix of social commentary, speculation, and adventure, all garnished with a tiny pinch of hope."--"Vector"
"There are more ideas to the page in this auspicious debut novel than many sci-fi novels have in their entirety. . . .Marusek evokes an impelling sense of wonder with an awesomely imaginative and all-too-believable future chock full of nifty details while allowing his characters to compel the novel. "Counting Heads" is a marvelous must-read froman author who must be noted as an important new voice in science fiction." --"CFQ"
"David Marusek's first novel is a wildly inventive story of a future dependent on clones and artificial intelligence. . . . "Counting Heads" is thick with invention and has an action-filled plot, but Marusek shines in filling it with well-rounded characters." -"The ""Denver"" Post"
"An intriguing, inventive, and provocative look at cloning that was the best first novel of the year and one of the best SF novels of the decade so far." --"Locus"
""Counting Heads" is full of both invention and action. It is dense and thought-provoking, and its story pulls the reader along until the very last page. Let's hope there's more where this came from." -"Bookpage"
"This exciting debut adventure poses interesting questions with a healthy dose of humor and derring-do. What happens when the technology of tomorrow becomes a reality. . . .Innovative plotting and realistic characterization combine to make a believable, captivating futuristic adventure." -"Romantic Times BOOKreviews"
"With subplots exploring the identity problems of clones, the solutions to a particularly nasty overpopulation problem, and the remnants of some invidious "biologicals" that have required the doming-over of major cities, Marusek presents a gripping conspiracy in an uncomfortably three-dimensional future."--"Booklist"
""Counting Heads": exciting, major new sf novel. . . .David Marusek is one of the best-kept secrets of science fiction, a wild talent with a Gibson-grade imagination and marvelous prose, and a keen sense of human drama that makes it all go. . . .It's hard to summarize this book because again and again, the plot hinges on wonderful, original inventions, and just describing the storyline would spoil too many of David's delightful surprises. I haven't felt as "buffeted" by a book since Gibson's "Neuromancer" -- haven't felt more like I was reading something truly radical, new and exciting. . . .When David was writing short stories, he was an exciting writer. Now that he's onto novels, he's practically a force of nature." -Cory Doctorow
"This extraordinary debut novel puts Marusek in the first rank of SF writers. . . .Marusek's writing is ferociously smart, simultaneously horrific and funny, as he forces readers to stretch their imaginations and sympathies. Much of the fun in the story is in the telling rather than its destination . . . .exciting and wonderful." -"Publishers Weekly"
""Counting Heads "has every virtue of the science fiction classic it is certain to become: it's an utterly convincing and deeply troubling extrapolation of the right-now, its language and a technology at once new and weirdly familiar. But it also has qualities rare even in the greatest SF classics: real persons, real suffering, real costs, and a fully achieved human drama. Absolutely splendid." -John Crowley

Praise for David Marusek:
"David Marusek is an extraordinarily gifted new writer, with unique ears and eyes . . . .Brims over with imaginative extrapolations." -"Seattle-""Post Intelligencer"
"David Marusek's "Counting Heads" is the most exciting debut sf novel I've read since "Neuromancer." "Counting Heads" isn't just one of the best first sf novels to come down the pike in some time; it's one of the best novels, period. I hope David Marusek will be writing more of them for centuries to come." -Elizabeth Hand, "F & SF"
""Counting Heads" was one of my favorite books of last year in any category, and an exemplary entry in the sci-fi genre." -"The New York Times Book Review"
"Marusek keeps a deep and textured tale spinning along, filled with stresses, shocks and sidelong looks at extrapolations of present-day trends. I took extra care to keep my copy pristine, so it'll be presentable when I hand it off to another reader who'll enjoy it as much as I did." -"The San Diego Union-Tribune"
""Counting Heads "is a compelling and powerful read. Marusek isn't afraid of asking hard questions--nor is he afraid to try and find answers. . . .One of the best sf novels of this (and perhaps any year) "Counting Heads" gives us a rich mix of social commentary, speculation, and adventure, all garnished with a tiny pinch of hope."--"Vector"
"There are more ideas to the page in this auspicious debut novel than many sci-fi novels have in their entirety. . . .Marusek evokes an impelling sense of wonder with an awesomely imaginative and all-too-believable future chock full of nifty details while allowing his characters to compel the novel. "Counting Heads" is a marvelous must-read from an author who must be noted as an important new voice in science fiction." --"CFQ"
"David Marusek's first novel is a wildly inventive story of a future dependent on clones and artificial intelligence. . . . "Counting Heads" is thick with invention and has an action-filled plot, but Marusek shines in filling it with well-rounded characters." -"The ""Denver"" Post"
"An intriguing, inventive, and provocative look at cloning that was the best first novel of the year and one of the best SF novels of the decade so far." --"Locus"
""Counting Heads" is full of both invention and action. It is dense and thought-provoking, and its story pulls the reader along until the very last page. Let's hope there's more where this came from." -"Bookpage"
"This exciting debut adventure poses interesting questions with a healthy dose of humor and derring-do. What happens when the technology of tomorrow becomes a reality. . . .Innovative plotting and realistic characterization combine to make a believable, captivating futuristic adventure." -"Romantic Times BOOKreviews"
"With subplots exploring the identity problems of clones, the solutions to a particularly nasty overpopulation problem, and the remnants of some invidious "biologicals" that have required the doming-over of major cities, Marusek presents a gripping conspiracy in an uncomfortably three-dimensional future."--"Booklist"
""Counting Heads" exciting, major new sf novel. . . .David Marusek is one of the best-kept secrets of science fiction, a wild talent with a Gibson-grade imagination and marvelous prose, and a keen sense of human drama that makes it all go. . . .It's hard to summarize this book because again and again, the plot hinges on wonderful, original inventions, and just describing the storyline would spoil too many of David's delightful surprises. I haven't felt as "buffeted" by a book since Gibson's "Neuromancer" -- haven't felt more like I was reading something truly radical, new and exciting. . . .When David was writing short stories, he was an exciting writer. Now that he's onto novels, he's practically a force of nature." -Cory Doctorow
"This extraordinary debut novel puts Marusek in the first rank of SF writers. . . .Marusek's writing is ferociously smart, simultaneously horrific and funny, as he forces readers to stretch their imaginations and sympathies. Much of the fun in the story is in the telling rather than its destination . . . .exciting and wonderful." -"Publishers Weekly"
""Counting Heads "has every virtue of the science fiction classic it is certain to become: it's an utterly convincing and deeply troubling extrapolation of the right-now, its language and a technology at once new and weirdly familiar. But it also has qualities rare even in the greatest SF classics: real persons, real suffering, real costs, and a fully achieved human drama. Absolutely splendid." -John Crowley

"David Marusek is an extraordinarily gifted new writer, with unique ears and eyes . . . .Brims over with imaginative extrapolations." -"Seattle-""Post Intelligencer"
"David Marusek's "Counting Heads" is the most exciting debut sf novel I've read since "Neuromancer." "Counting Heads" isn't just one of the best first sf novels to come down the pike in some time; it's one of the best novels, period. I hope David Marusek will be writing more of them for centuries to come." -Elizabeth Hand, "F & SF"
""Counting Heads" was one of my favorite books of last year in any category, and an exemplary entry in the sci-fi genre." -"The New York Times Book Review"
"Marusek keeps a deep and textured tale spinning along, filled with stresses, shocks and sidelong looks at extrapolations of present-day trends. I took extra care to keep my copy pristine, so it'll be presentable when I hand it off to another reader who'll enjoy it as much as I did." -"The San Diego Union-Tribune"
""Counting Heads "is a compelling and powerful read. Marusek isn't afraid of asking hard questions--nor is he afraid to try and find answers. . . .One of the best sf novels of this (and perhaps any year) "Counting Heads" gives us a rich mix of social commentary, speculation, and adventure, all garnished with a tiny pinch of hope."--"Vector"
"There are more ideas to the page in this auspicious debut novel than many sci-fi novels have in their entirety. . . .Marusek evokes an impelling sense of wonder with an awesomely imaginative and all-too-believable future chock full of nifty details while allowing his characters to compel the novel. "Counting Heads" is a marvelous must-read from an author who must be noted as an important new voice in science fiction." --"CFQ"
"David Marusek's first novel is a wildly inventive story of a future dependent on clones and artificial intelligence. . . . "Counting Heads" is thick with invention and has an action-filled plot, but Marusek shines in filling it with well-rounded characters." -"The ""Denver"" Post"
"An intriguing, inventive, and provocative look at cloning that was the best first novel of the year and one of the best SF novels of the decade so far." --"Locus"
""Counting Heads" is full of both invention and action. It is dense and thought-provoking, and its story pulls the reader along until the very last page. Let's hope there's more where this came from." -"Bookpage"
"This exciting debut adventure poses interesting questions with a healthy dose of humor and derring-do. What happens when the technology of tomorrow becomes a reality. . . .Innovative plotting and realistic characterization combine to make a believable, captivating futuristic adventure." -"Romantic Times BOOKreviews"
"With subplots exploring the identity problems of clones, the solutions to a particularly nasty overpopulation problem, and the remnants of some invidious "biologicals" that have required the doming-over of major cities, Marusek presents a gripping conspiracy in an uncomfortably three-dimensional future."--"Booklist"
""Counting Heads" exciting, major new sf novel. . . .David Marusek is one of the best-kept secrets of science fiction, a wild talent with a Gibson-grade imagination and marvelous prose, and a keen sense of human drama that makes it all go. . . .It's hard to summarize this book because again and again, the plot hinges on wonderful, original inventions, and just describing the storyline would spoil too many of David's delightful surprises. I haven't felt as "buffeted" by a book since Gibson's "Neuromancer" -- haven't felt more like I was reading something truly radical, new and exciting. . . .When David was writing short stories, he was an exciting writer. Now that he's onto novels, he's practically a force of nature." -Cory Doctorow
"This extraordinary debut novel puts Marusek in the first rank of SF writers. . . .Marusek's writing is ferociously smart, simultaneously horrific and funny, as he forces readers to stretch their imaginations and sympathies. Much of the fun in the story is in the telling rather than its destination . . . .exciting and wonderful." -"Publishers Weekly"
""Counting Heads "has every virtue of the science fiction classic it is certain to become: it's an utterly convincing and deeply troubling extrapolation of the right-now, its language and a technology at once new and weirdly familiar. But it also has qualities rare even in the greatest SF classics: real persons, real suffering, real costs, and a fully achieved human drama. Absolutely splendid." -John Crowley

David Marusek is an extraordinarily gifted new writer, with unique ears and eyes . . . .Brims over with imaginative extrapolations. "Seattle-Post Intelligencer"

David Marusek's "Counting Heads" is the most exciting debut sf novel I've read since "Neuromancer." "Counting Heads" isn't just one of the best first sf novels to come down the pike in some time; it's one of the best novels, period. I hope David Marusek will be writing more of them for centuries to come. "Elizabeth Hand, F & SF"

"Counting Heads" was one of my favorite books of last year in any category, and an exemplary entry in the sci-fi genre. "The New York Times Book Review"

Marusek keeps a deep and textured tale spinning along, filled with stresses, shocks and sidelong looks at extrapolations of present-day trends. I took extra care to keep my copy pristine, so it'll be presentable when I hand it off to another reader who'll enjoy it as much as I did. "The San Diego Union-Tribune"

"Counting Heads "is a compelling and powerful read. Marusek isn't afraid of asking hard questions--nor is he afraid to try and find answers. . . .One of the best sf novels of this (and perhaps any year) "Counting Heads" gives us a rich mix of social commentary, speculation, and adventure, all garnished with a tiny pinch of hope. "Vector"

There are more ideas to the page in this auspicious debut novel than many sci-fi novels have in their entirety. . . .Marusek evokes an impelling sense of wonder with an awesomely imaginative and all-too-believable future chock full of nifty details while allowing his characters to compel the novel. "Counting Heads" is a marvelous must-read from an author who must be noted as an important new voice in science fiction. "CFQ"

David Marusek's first novel is a wildly inventive story of a future dependent on clones and artificial intelligence. . . . "Counting Heads" is thick with invention and has an action-filled plot, but Marusek shines in filling it with well-rounded characters. "The Denver Post"

An intriguing, inventive, and provocative look at cloning that was the best first novel of the year and one of the best SF novels of the decade so far. "Locus"

"Counting Heads" is full of both invention and action. It is dense and thought-provoking, and its story pulls the reader along until the very last page. Let's hope there's more where this came from. "Bookpage"

This exciting debut adventure poses interesting questions with a healthy dose of humor and derring-do. What happens when the technology of tomorrow becomes a reality. . . .Innovative plotting and realistic characterization combine to make a believable, captivating futuristic adventure. "Romantic Times BOOKreviews"

With subplots exploring the identity problems of clones, the solutions to a particularly nasty overpopulation problem, and the remnants of some invidious "biologicals" that have required the doming-over of major cities, Marusek presents a gripping conspiracy in an uncomfortably three-dimensional future. "Booklist"

Counting Heads: exciting, major new sf novel. . . .David Marusek is one of the best-kept secrets of science fiction, a wild talent with a Gibson-grade imagination and marvelous prose, and a keen sense of human drama that makes it all go. . . .It's hard to summarize this book because again and again, the plot hinges on wonderful, original inventions, and just describing the storyline would spoil too many of David's delightful surprises. I haven't felt as buffeted by a book since Gibson's Neuromancer -- haven't felt more like I was reading something truly radical, new and exciting. . . .When David was writing short stories, he was an exciting writer. Now that he's onto novels, he's practically a force of nature. Cory Doctorow

This extraordinary debut novel puts Marusek in the first rank of SF writers. . . .Marusek's writing is ferociously smart, simultaneously horrific and funny, as he forces readers to stretch their imaginations and sympathies. Much of the fun in the story is in the telling rather than its destination . . . .exciting and wonderful. "Publishers Weekly"

"Counting Heads "has every virtue of the science fiction classic it is certain to become: it's an utterly convincing and deeply troubling extrapolation of the right-now, its language and a technology at once new and weirdly familiar. But it also has qualities rare even in the greatest SF classics: real persons, real suffering, real costs, and a fully achieved human drama. Absolutely splendid. "John Crowley""

About the Author

David Marusek spins his quirky tales of the future by the glow of the Northern Lights in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Customer Reviews

2.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is a rather dull puzzle trying to comprehend why the glowing recommendations on the dust jacket fail to bear any resemblance to the contents of this novel. I managed to read to around the halfway point before skipping through to the end; something I almost never do and only because I was still struggling to find answers, any answers, as to why the quoted reviewers found this story appealing. The author favours short, flat sentences, a technique he is not a skilled enough writer to pull off. The result is a mere sketch, both of the characters and the world they inhabit and not a very well drawn one at that. The plot, which is summarised in a more exciting fashion on the back of the book than within, is a lukewarm mix of ideas that have been better executed elsewhere. The weak ending, left it seems with the intention of a sequel, is the final insult to the reader who has given over their time to wading through this. I had high hopes for this debut; being charitable perhaps this is his 'The Big U' and we'll see better work from him in the years to come.
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Format: Paperback
This novel crafts such a fascinating future that it was immensely disappointing how bad the story was.

To his credit, Marusek has crafted one of the most interesting- and the most believable- future worlds to date. It is described in intricate detail, and definitely feels like a plausible future. It would have made such a good setting for a story as well. Unfortunately he simply fails to deliver there.

The start of the book is, to my understanding, an almost verbatim copy of a novella written a few years previously. It explains the backstory for the rest of the novel, and is probably the best part of it. Unfortunately, after it finishes, the plot derails completely.

There are two serious flaws in the storyline for the remaining two thirds of the book. The first is that there are simply too many subplots, minor characters, and so forth- that don't contribute to the story in any way. Most of them could have been removed entirely without impacting the plotline at all. Half the time the reader is left wondering "how does this guy fit in to the rest of it", but this is never answered. Most of these subplots also just peter out and are left unresolved.

The other problem is that the "main" story arc set up in the first part of the book (and for that matter, the one described in the blurb) is actually a *minor* subplot later on. In particular, the opening chapter explains how Samson Harger, the ostensible protagonist, got involved with Elanour Starke (whose semi-deceased daughter is supposed to the subject of the novel), and focuses entirely on him. The novel then fast-forwards a few decades, and Samson is barely mentioned again.

The other characters are also largely unsatisfying.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm bit late to this one - Marusek first came to my notice in a short story anthology with an inventive and thoughtful story. It piqued my interest, so here I am!

Counting Heads, Marusek's debut novel, is a fantastic read. In some ways it's straightforward enough, if follows the fortunes of one man and his family through several decades (though, to be clear, it leaps - overall there is a broad sweep, but it's handled in a couple of denser "chunks.") Where it sets itself apart is how seriously David Marusek takes the job of writing SF. Not to say that the novel is po-faced, or anything like that. He's a good writer, there's a decent level of wit in this.

Instead, what I mean is that it's a proper, serious SF novel. It never shies away from the fact that it's SF; it has a lot of ideas in it and I'd guess that Marusek has read a lot of SF himself. He marries these sfnal themes with an excellent human drama, the characterisation in this is almost uniformly excellent. This can often, I think, be a weakness for a lot of ideas driven SF writers - that is to say that they are often not so good at producing characters who are anything other than mouthpieces for themselves.

The opening of the novel sees a famous artist, Samson Harker meet a woman on her way to great power. By the time that the novel starts, humanity has practical immortality. They can both look forward to a long, long life. This, naturally, means that what we would consider normal is discarded. It's unlikely that immortals would wish to spend the rest of their lives together, on a crowded planet producing children would have to be strictly regulated, so when they find themselves in position to produce offspring, it's not quite in the way that we'd consider normal.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars 50 reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly original 7 Mar. 2015
By Hugh - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Reviewers who gave this book mediocre reviews have a point: this book lacks a classic plot line. You'll find yourself wanting to return to characters that you grew to like, looking for some well-defined resolution in their lives, which doesn't always happen. But do yourself a favor and set that aside. Just inhale the landscape of future-topia overload. It's easy to see how much fun Marusek had in writing this, and the struggle he had with tying so many original ideas together. Let your imagination relish in those ideas and you will love this book.
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok 21 Jun. 2013
By Jacob Jonsson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I thought it was an okay read, the story was not brilliant and I believe that the different sequences did not significantly improve the story. Wont be bothering with the next book but do not regret picking this up since it showed great promise.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Quintessential Singularity Science Fiction Read 1 April 2012
By Danyel Lawson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
David Marusek takes you from the edge of the singularity to the heart of it through the navel gazing eyes of the main characters.

Marusek presents the near future as a personal and political battle between anonymous converging interests and individual power.

Marusek presents dissertation worthy discourse on agents and actors as ideas manifested as the random convergence of the interests of individuals. While simultaneously describing in rich detail the coming wonders of a possible and plausible near future as an exploration of the many faces of characters built over centuries of time.

David Marusek does not do this dissection of the singularity as a scientific postmortem.

This vivesection of the near future is wonderfully presented as a story of love found and lost over centuries of time.

My takeaway from this and Marusek's later works in this series are that the importance of events is all in the perspective and evolution is a harsh mistress.

To sum it up. If a tree falls in a forest does anyone care if it screams?
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great start, disappointing end... 6 April 2006
By GB - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When reading books like this I wonder sometimes if the publisher told the author: "I don't care how the book ends, just give me no more than 350 pages!!"

The book develops well with interesting concepts, good action and great flow, then derails to a sudden ending with some major issues left open (I won't give away the plot here). I've seen this time and again, and I wonder if maybe there was a page limit on the book, or perhaps the author has had enough and wants to hand in the work?

I'm not a writer, and I know it must be rediculous to have one's work criticized by someone who has not been down the same road, but I have invested money and time in this work and have to say that although it was a good read, and solid entertainment for a few days, it will not stay with me the way other books in it's genre (Diamond Age, for example) have.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 4.5 Star Off-Road Trip to the Future 14 May 2006
By Tom Rogers - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Looking over some the reviews of "Counting Heads", a potential reader couldn't be blamed for thinking that the novel was written by an author who had infused his project with flashes of genius and generous dashes of enthusiastic Ed Woodsian ineptitude. However, although a lot of the comments about `defects' in the plotting are accurate, they are irrelevant to the kind of book we're looking at. It's like critiquing a dirt bike for not being able to haul home a dozen bags of groceries or drive the kid's soccer team to a game. Of course, a dirt bike's meant to take us places a minivan (which can do all those things) could never go. In a similar way, Marusek's narrative structure shows his audience things that would be impossible to convey by following contemporary SF's terribly limited schema. At the same time, he's not doing anything revolutionary, just borrowing good ideas from outside the genre in order to expand his capacity to explore a new world. In this, Marusek shares a lot of affinities with Mark Budz (check out my review of `Crache' for a similar example of the benefits of departing from the dominant SF conventions).

Marusek is dramatizing a time of social revolution and accomplishes it in a very striking and efficient fashion. So he tells the story from the perspective of members of the affected classes, the powerful and wealthy `affs', the clones who do much of the routine work, and the `Chartists' who represent the balance of humanity clinging to familiar old political values and economics. In addition, he optimizes his overall strategy to show a lot of what's going on in this society by expanding the roles his characters play in the story. The pursuit of a cryogenically preserved head forms a "Maltese Falcon" core to the plot of this novel, but rather than following the typical convention of that storyline, the pursuit of the head doesn't become the central preoccupation of most of the characters. The actors in this drama are involved in the adventure in much the same way that we really experience one--as part of their job, or as witnesses, or victims or witting/unwitting accomplices etc., and they become involved while pursuing their own private business. So by following the twists and turns of each character's ultimate involvement in the recovery of the head, we get not only a resolution of the story, but we also intimately feel the ugly new world order eating away the vestiges of the old. Although the notion of adapting the narrative strategy to explore different aspects of a world is neither terribly exotic or new (Zola and Dickens come to mind), it's certainly ironic that the idea hasn't been fashionable in SF for decades.

Of course, one byproduct of this story telling technique is that the plot loses some cohesion, each subplot moves at its own tempo and its progress may not relate to the others or obviously advance the `global' plot. Marusek addresses this by directly applying some of the oldest and most general dramatic principles. For instance, you can see that the story ends in a perfectly acceptable way if you observe that the end mirrors the opening status quo. There are a couple tricky bits though, the novel proper begins with the end of the introductory short story, and some of the characters are in motion when they first appear, just waiting for something to knock them in a new direction. The clearest example of this mirroring is the boy Bogdan, who first shows up looking for a missing computer, and his last action is to go off looking for a lost artificial intelligence. It's also worth noting that Bogdan's motives and values have changed in the course of the story, and Marusek's plotting includes substantial elements of character growth and development to fill in the chinks in "Counting Heads' looser structure. The plotting is simplicity itself, any purpose or action is met with progressively higher obstacles and greater frustrations. This happens regardless of whether the action has any direct bearing on the big picture, but the overall effect is to continuously build the tension. Overcoming, enduring or trying to get around the sort of reversals the characters face is the basis of drama and the foundation of a good plot.

It seems fairly clear to me that when evaluated by the appropriate criteria, "Counting Heads" is a remarkable achievement. I've tried to argue that most of the 'defects' attributed to the novel are simply results of Marusek choosing to tell his story in the best possible way. Naturally, there are flaws in "Counting Heads", some fairly serious, thus it only gets 4.5 stars. The worst is perhaps the bizarre decision to use a first person short story as a prologue and then later changing that character's viewpoint to third person-that is a grievous fault, and the story suffers right up to the end from it. Also, the clones subplot is very important, but still takes up way too much space, there's a lot of other material that deserved more attention.
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