Thursday, January 07, 2010

Richard K. Morgan

I had Wednesday off. I had hoped to go hiking, but frankly I was just too damned tired. I'm getting old and schlepping the mail is becoming quite the task for my 52-year-old body. So I ended up sleeping in and napping most of the day. Yeah, I'm getting old. I admit it.

I also spent some of the time reading.

When I was a kid I read a lot of science fiction. Most of the usual suspects, of course. But when I got older I stopped looking at that genre. Why? I'm not sure. I suspect because I just didn't see much in the published work that I found original or well done. I never saw anything that matched the poetry of Ray Bradbury, the politics of Frank Herbert, or the magic of Philip K. Dick. The cyberpunk movement never impressed me, so I completely missed out on that wave.

But a couple of years ago I discovered a guy named Richard K. Morgan. A lot of his work is described as cyberpunk, which I reckon fits. But different enough for me that I liked the ideas and themes that he has used. His breakout first novel was ALTERED CARBON, which I have yet to read, but which I have been told is really a fine book. I did manage to read a few of his follow-up novels and thoroughly enjoyed them. One of the most impressive things about his writing is the readability of it. I have little patience with poorly rendered fiction, and Mr. Morgan definitely knows how to tell a good story and keep the reader going, even through some pretty complicated plots and scenarios. In addition, he writes real science fiction, with the emphasis on the science. Despite introducing the reader to some complex notions, he does it with such skill that those ideas are easy to follow and infinitely simple to understand. The only writer of my youth who did this as effectively was one of the grand masters of SF, Hal Clement. That's pretty good company.

Currently, I'm in the midst of one of his latest books, a novel called THIRTEEN (entitled THE BLACK MAN in its original form in the UK). It deals with genetically enhanced humans bred for their fierceness and focus and later found to be far too dangerous to allow to remain free on Earth. One has managed to find his way back to Earth (from a Martian exile) and is wreaking havoc (as they say). The solution is to draft another such creature to track and subdue him. I'm halfway through the tale and it's a good one. I'll post my final judgment after I complete it. (But thus far it's pretty darned great.)


lpala said...

Everything you just said - ditto here. I, too, read sci-fi when I was younger (I'm 10 years older than you and female), but gave up on it until I discovered Richard Morgan a couple of years ago. I've read and re-read his novels many times.

Congrats and continued success with your writing!

HemlockMan said...


Yes, he's quite the talent! Fortunately for me, I haven't read all of his novels, so I have some more to look forward to reading.