Friday, December 19, 2008

Black Man.

Enjoyable stuff, but perhaps far too heavy on the polemics for some. A couple of times I felt the urge to skip bits, especially some of the long conversations serving as vehicles for social commentary, but I didn’t skip because by then Mr Morgan had hooked me. Also, for someone who very definitely can illustrate the shades of grey in human existence, Morgan goes blind to them when writing about what seem to be his pet hates: religious fundamentalism and right wing politics. Taking a whole lump of America, labelling it ‘Jesusland’ full of ‘Republicans’, and dismissing it as a backward society is somewhat ironic, when his lead and insightful Thirteen is supposed to be more primitive still. I suggest a read-up on some Dawkins about closet Atheism in the Bible Belt. But then who am I to criticise that, my contrast setting is always at the top of the slide. And I have to add that naming a lethal virus ‘Falwell’ had me chuckling.

But though there’s so many pegs in this book to hang negative criticism on, these weren’t enough to drive me away and Morgan kept rescuing it with something like the Raymond Chandler maxim of walking a gunman in through the door. I just knew that shortly the characters would again pick up the plot, we’d be in for some more gritty violence, twists and betrayals. Yeah, that plot seemed to wander a bit, but the characters, the sheer story-telling ability and tight snappy prose kept me nailed. In the end you know you’ve enjoyed a book when, after reading the last line, you think, bugger, I’ve finished it.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

"after reading the last line, you think, bugger, I’ve finished it"

I think that of all your books...Oh Great One.

As for Richards, I enjoyed his first couple but found they started to get a bit too similar with the third Kovacs book so couldn't raise much enthusiasm for the others.

Happy Xmas to you and yours Neal

Phil
Aberdeen

vaudeviewgalor raandisisraisins said...

all ive cracked into is Altered Carbon which i thought was along the lines of a Jeter vs Egan thang.

you know, i'm on the road every couple years, all i can say it bibleland, jesusland, stupidtown, and more unapologetic ignorant bibleland. there are little pockets of communities that pass decapitated fish amongst each other with "save nature, the supreme being" written on the scales wearing their pentagram black jackets...but all in all the u.s. is a pilgrim toilet for idiots. the midwest and central california (Schwarznegger was put in by clowns ouside of the big cities), you cant get a rational conversation with people about things outside of earth or the idiocy of religion. once in a while you see kids with Slayer and Deicide shirts on, but they are more in it for shock value. once a baby comes out of a crotch they get all glowy in god. very frustrating. good for them. they have the majority, they win.

you would think with the faux terror on nyc that shook the world (muslims hate us, what did we ever do? world trade centers collapse perfectly into its foundation with no help from control demolition, duh do dumb) that people would look at both sides and see religion is for idiots who need the crutch of irrationality. no, it became kill anyone not part of the christian crusade. this will stop the hate. rewatching the fox news on 9-11 "you have to stop them before they come over here again, we need to bomb the hell out of them". ok.

accepted collateral brain loss.

if i get a moment will tell you a Falwell story. biggest crook in Lynchburg Virginia. scam, crook, and self haloing turdtato.

Anonymous said...

I was hooked on richard morgans stuff as soon as i read the first few chapters of altered carbon. The same can be said of gridlinked.

I class both yourself and richard morgan as my now favourite writers at this moment in time. I plug both of your work to friends and family any chance I get.

You are both by far and away head and shoulders better than any of the other shit out there at the minute.

Keep up the good work and all the best for the new year.

Paul
Newcastle

Anonymous said...

Black Man disappointed me with Morgan's petulance, which has only escalated with The Steel Remains, but I suppose by criticizing him one reveals oneself as just another tool of the neoliberal counterrevolution, thereby confirming Morgan in all his blessed convictions.

Bob Lock said...

Have you read Morgan's 'The Steel Remains' Neal?
I'd be interested to know what you thought, if you have. It left me questioning whether or not I should be rooting for the hero (or anti-hero).
Reminded me of how I felt when reading the Thomas Covenant and Angus Thermopyle stories of Donaldson, both of questionable character and motives.

BTW I enjoyed 'Black Man' pity he had to bow to PCness and call it 'Thirteen' for the US market.

Maigo said...

You think with all the "anti-american" commentary, the title is what the US publisher worries about. But then, I guess that proves the point.

Thud said...

I enjoy Morgans books but the politics are becoming increasingly hard to stomachand his vision of America is laughably childish.There are not many writers of a conservative bent outside of the military sci fi genre....which whilst enjoyable is not exactly taxing to read.

vaudeviewgalor raandisisraisins said...

ok, now i'm really curious about Black Men!! er, Black Man.

Alex Cull said...

I enjoyed reading Black Man & will probably get around to reviewing it one of these days. I'm a sucker for action, futuristic weaponry and explosions and thus found that aspect of the book very good. However, it could also have done with quite a bit of editing; maybe it could have been cut by about a quarter. But, on balance, very good.

Mark Croucher said...

I like Richard Morgan as you know because we discussed him once, Black Man I thought was very good.

However, save your time and cut and paste this for Bob, The Steel Remains is like pulling teeth.

I'm not a cross genre prig, I have read a fair bit of fantasy but I cannot for the life of me find an ounce or milligram of substance in this book. It rambles and elludes to past threads we know nothing about, this is not endearing when halfway through the book I am none the wiser or infact interested.

I hope RM gets back to the Kovacs thread next book and benches his foray into fantasy, I really am not enjoying TSR.

Olaf said...

I really liked the kovacs. I thought they were outstanding books. Entertaining and intelligent.

Market forces was ok and I've not read Black Man but I will.

daniel said...

i prefer morgan's kovacs books (or even his marvel black widow stuff) but it was still an enjoyable (if predictable) read. i didn't read so much into the "jesusland" partition of america as you did, but then the idea of an again-separated america isn't new anyway. the whole premise of this more barbaric protagonist felt weak to me (and then the idea of female versions at the end kinda went against his whole concept of them). still i'm hoping his next one will return to kovacs.

Alex Cull said...

I'd agree with many others who liked the Kovacs stories - these are great & I'd like to see another one, maybe a fourth novel which explains the mystery of what happened to the Martians.

Chuck B. said...

Black Man was an excellent book. Now maybe I liked it because very few white science ficiton author's have the steel balls to take on race from anything other than a mouth breather rightwing position.

Also, I'm sorry Neal, but the whole Jesusland section is actually dealing with an interesting sociological study done about the US. Morgan was actually writing about how our country is ideologically divided. In a way it was a more direct piece about what Gibson, and Williams hinted at. Do a wikipedia search on the term Jesusland.

Also, Neal, most cyberpunk is usually political in it's anti-corporate/pro-humanity stance. I would go so far as to say the best cyberpunk usually place the promoters of free market corps and ultra right ideologies as the villians.