''Black Man'' (U.S. title ''Thirteen'') is a sci-fi mystery novel from Creator/RichardKMorgan that feels like a StealthPrequel to the ''Literature/TakeshiKovacs'' series.

In the future, humans toyed with a wide array of genetic experimentation to create different kinds of human, to be used for specific forms of labour - servants, soldiers, number crunchers. Each of them tapped into specific human traits, amplifying them at the expense of the others. The most problematic of the bunch? "Variant thirteen", a hypermasculine male variant, a genetic throwback to the eponymous hunters of the hunter-gatherer era, bred out through lack of necessity. Useful in times of war, in peacetime (or during colder wars) thirteens are dangerous, unstable and for that, socially ostracized. These days, they're mostly used as workforce in the terraforming of Mars...

But when a ship headed from Mars to a [[SpaceElevator nanorack]] on the Pacific Rim instead splashes down in the ocean, the crew apparently [[ImAHumanitarian eaten]] by a stowaway, the ugly truth rears its head: nobody catches renegade thirteens better than [[RecruitingTheCriminal other thirteens]]. And there's one that makes his living exactly doing that...


Aside from minor dating inconsistencies, the book feels very much like the Takeshi Kovacs setting before the discovery of Martians (or, if you will, as an alternate universe where they just weren't there to be found) and so has crude prototypes or precursors of much the same technologies - experia, virtual realities, rampant nanotech use, designer-virus-loaded bullets, etc, etc.

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!!This book provides examples of:

* AdultFear: How would you like your six-months-of-pregnancy unborn child to be removed from your womb and cryogenically frozen until its legal (and genetic) status as a human is ascertained? Those that procreate with human variants are swiftly stripped of human rights to a level comparable to those of the variants themselves.
* AndIMustScream: What Marsalis does to [[spoiler:Amy Westhoff]]. Shoots her with a neurotoxin tipped dart, calmly informs her that it will paralyse her skeletal muscle system so she can't run, her lungs so she can't breathe or call for help, that she has about eight minutes to live, and leaves her to it. Turns out he's pretty mean when killing for revenge instead of for work or necessity.
** The nature of the Haag Gun, which even leads Marsalis to MercyKill people he doesn't kill in one shot. [[spoiler: it's basically an AIDS gun.]] The sheer nastiness of it is justified, since it's used to [[spoiler: guarantee the death of any renegade thirteen if they escape before thirteen-hunters like Marsalis can truly finish them off.]]
* AntiHero: Marsalis flip-flops between Type V and Type IV depending on how personally involved he gets in the matter at hand.
* AsYouKnow: Used quite a few times to paint the backstory of the world, usually well-justified by using people from non-overlapping social strata to do it (such as Marsalis explaining life on Mars to Ertekin or Rovayo).
* TheBerserker: The entire reason thirteens were created to begin with. Many of them struggle to overcome the inherent rage issues, usually via meditation techniques.
* {{BFG}}: The sharkpunch, a device for divers for self-defense against sharks. Since it was designed to eviscerate attacking sharks under water, when used on dry land, its results are... rather messy.
* [[spoiler: BolivianArmyEnding]]
* BoxedCrook: Thirteens not actively employed by government agencies have to choose between internment or being sent to Mars to participate in the colonization effort.
* CallForward: Ertekin relays to Marsalis that she heard of a tech development making the digitization of the human mind possible in thirty or forty years from now. See also StealthPrequel below.
* ChekhovsBoomerang: The sharkpunch.
* ChekhovsGun: The functioning principles of Haag guns.
* ClusterFBomb: Thirteens in general, and Marsalis in particular, are fond of swearing up a storm when riled. And most of them are easily riled.
** Not only thirteens. Ertekin and even Norton do their part as well, not to mention the various criminals. Basically, every main character of the novel and most secondary ones swear like there's no tomorrow.
* CompanionCube: Marsalis grows surprisingly fond of the orange inmate jacket he gets to keep after he's freed from jail.
* ConversationalTroping: As is usual for Morgan, half the time tropes aren't invoked or played straight at all, but are discussed by the characters nonetheless.
* CryonicsFailure: [[DiscussedTrope Discussed]] in great detail during the initial investigation of the crash landing of ''Horkan's Pride''.
** Also happened to Marsalis on his trip back from Mars some years prior, and mentioned as having happened to an astronaut on a manned mission to Jupiter who subsequently went insane.
** It is later revealed that Marsalis himself went through this on his return journey to Earth.
* DeadPersonConversation: Elena Aguirre's appearances to Marsalis. See also PosthumousCharacter.
* [[spoiler: [[DiscOneFinalBoss Decoy Antagonist]]]]: Merrin.
* DividedStatesOfAmerica: Through some NoodleIncident involving China, the USA is now split into the rather progressive (both technologically and socially) Pacific States, an unnamed East Coast coalition that retains much of the modern-day American lifestyle and policy and The Republic (often referred to as Jesusland), consisting of the Confederate states and leading a patriarchal life of religious zealotry.
* EvilBrit: Marsalis, arguably.
* FantasticRacism: Baseline humans all look down on human variants, or ''twists''. ''Twist'' is used as a slur with all the appropriate negative reactions from those it is used against. It cuts both ways, as thirteens call baseline humans ''cudlips'' and "cattle".
* GeneticEngineeringIsTheNewNuke: The Varian Thirteens were created as super soldiers. [[GoneHorriblyRight What they got]] were a bunch of highly trained, [[{{Determinator}} utterly driven]] killing machines who fall a long way outside [[TheUnfettered normal moral and social contraints]] a human mind has. They made exceptionally capable insurgents, counter insurgents, commandoes and terrorists and caused substantial amounts of destruction and political destabilisation across the whole world before the [[SuperRegistrationAct Jacobsen Accords]] were signed and the world's governments had them all rounded up and imprisoned or sent to Mars.
* TheGhost: Isaac Sutherland. Oft-mentioned in Carl's internal monologues, but never seen.
* HalfHumanHybrid: Nothing prevents human variants from breeding with baseline humans. Glossed over until the each of the {{Wham Line}}s happen. It's [[DiscussedTrope pointed out]] that nobody really knows what, if any, modified traits the offspring will inherit since most human variants have only been created in the last few decades.
* HeroicBSOD: Marsalis undergoes one [[spoiler:when Ertekin dies]].
* HumanAliens: [[InvokedTrope Invoked]] when several characters flat-out mention the closest one can get to meeting an alien is a thirteen. It helps that many thirteens see themselves as an entirely separate race from humans.
* HumanPopsicle: Used for people traveling to and from Mars, to simplify their passage and the logistics of the ships themselves, as the spaceship engines are implied to be no better than they are now.
* HumanSubspecies: Type 1, genetically modified. There's a lot of them, but most often mentioned are thirteens (hypermasculine males, created to be shock troops in times of war, but also make good criminals, physical laborers and serial killers) and bonobos (hyperfeminine females, created to be midwives, surrogate mothers, nurses, but often used as prostitutes instead). There are others, like hybernoids (can be either gender, they sleep through winter, but are hyperactive the rest of the year, requiring next to no sleep or rest) and gleeches (called "post autistic", used as researchers and hackers but find it very difficult to interact with other people), and China constantly keeps creating new types through experimentation (like [[spoiler:female thirteens]], for example).
* ImAHumanitarian: [[DiscussedTrope Discussed]] in relation to CryonicsFailure leaving someone stranded awake on a ship bound from Mars to Earth or vice versa. [[AvertedTrope Averted]] for Marsalis, played straight for Merrin.
* LooksLikeJesus: Merrin. Milked for all it's worth as one of his followers-slash-protectors genuinely believes him to be the Second Coming of Christ.
* LotteryOfDoom: Inverted. You can go to Mars whenever you want to, provided you're cleared for space travel on health reasons. Thirteens are happily shipped off to Mars if they don't want to be interned in a camp somewhere. But to get back from Mars? That's where the lottery comes in if you're not a contracted worker (they're shipped back once their contract expires and they opt not to renew it). Marsalis got off Mars by winning the lottery. [[spoiler: Turns out he cheated.]]
* MagneticHero: It is mentioned several times (and demonstrated with both Merrin and Marsalis) that a thirteen that can get their rage under control can be exceptionally charismatic due to their hormonally-altered masculinity.
* MarketBasedTitle: ''Thirteen'' is the title for the USA, due to possibility of interpreting UnfortunateImplications from the original title.
* TheMentor: Isaac Sutherland to Carl, having taught him ''tanindo'' and a bit of their nature as thirteens.
* MercyKill: Marsalis gives these to people wounded by the Haag guns if he can. It takes a while for the other characters to wrap their heads around the reasons, [[spoiler: but in the end Ertekin has to rely on that particular habit]].
* MohsScaleOfScienceFictionHardness: Very hard, right on the line between 4.5 (one small fib) and 5 (Mohs/SpeculativeScience). Space travel is highly realistic (no FTL, no unlimited energy, although as the aforementioned fib they do seem to have artificial gravity), no energy weapons exist, most communication and transportation technologies are extrapolations of existing tech and even the genetics are fairly plausible.
* NeckSnap: Marsalis gives one of these to the BigBad. Made possible due to his muscular augmentation.
* NoodleIncident: The Secession that brought on the DividedStatesOfAmerica. The most information we get about it is that China somehow had a hand in it.
* NotSoDifferent: Merrin and Marsalis get compared a lot by other characters, and not just because they're thirteens that both [[spoiler: suffered CryonicsFailure on their trip from Mars]]. Marsalis also takes offense at attempts to compare him to any other thirteen in general.
* NWordPrivileges: Marsalis and [[spoiler: fellow inmate]] [[NoNameGiven The Guatemalan]] are both black, but Marsalis does not feel that this makes the Guatemalan's favourite noun appropriate.
* OneHitKill: the sharkpunch seems to have this effect in people.
** [[spoiler: the Haag Gun, though it takes a while.
* OnlyOneName: Onbekend. Justified, as [[spoiler: it stands for "Unknown", as he's the ''other'' Allan Merrin]].
* OrgyOfEvidence: Played with. The main court-admissible evidence of someone's presence at the crime scene is "genetic trace", which is unique for every person. Merrin's rampage across the US countryside leaves one orgy after another. [[spoiler: The trick is, if it's a genetically engineered supersoldier that just happened to have an identical twin in a freak development of the already-modified egg, they would leave identical traces..]].
* ThePlan: The reason for Merrin's arrival on Earth [[spoiler: as it was but a step in a larger plan]].
* PostHumousCharacter: Played with. Elena Aguirre is used as one for one-sided DeadPersonConversation purposes, but Marsalis's mind simply latched on to her face when his CryonicsFailure marooned him in space, he never met her after she was [[HumanPopsicle thawed]] on Earth, and she may be alive and well elsewhere for all he knows.
* ReplacementGoldfish: Discussed, as those around her openly wonder whether Ertekin sees [[spoiler: Marsalis]] as one for [[spoiler: her deceased thirteen boyfriend, Ethan]].
* ShoutOut:
** The main UN colony on Mars is called [[RayBradbury Bradbury]], another one is called [[{{Literature/TheWarOfTheWorlds}} Wells]].
** The factory raft Marsalis and Rovayo visit is called ''[[TheMasterAndMargarita Bulgakov's Cat]]''.
** The [[SpaceElevator nanorack]] names include [[CarlSagan Sagan]] and Kaku (as in Michio Kaku).
* StealthPrequel: For the ''Literature/TakeshiKovacs'' series, even though WordOfGod explicitly says it was not intended as one. Still, much of the backstory fits (right down to the chronology and details of the colonization of Mars, as well as numerous tech-related {{CallForward}}s), although it can be considered an AlternateUniverse, the divergent point being the discovery of Martians - ''Broken Angels'' explicitly lists the date, and it has already passed in this book's timeline.
* SubspaceAnsible: Averted. Communications with Mars require around 15 minutes of waiting for your message to get there, the other side watching it, recording a reply, and waiting another 15 minutes for it to return, which means an average turnaround from 40 minutes to a whole hour. This is used as a plot point.
* SupernaturalMartialArts: this is about as close as you can get to describing ''tanindo'', a martial-arts created on Mars that takes advantage of the weaker gravity. It's shown (by Carl) to be incredibly effective on Earth, thanks to his enhanced musculature.
* ThousandYardStare: People marooned in space can get it as part of the PTSD package. People returned to Earth from Mars get it whenever they see any body of water larger than a puddle.
* TitleDrop: For both of them. "Thirteen" is the common way of referring to variant thirteens, so it gets used a lot. "Black man" is often used to refer to Marsalis (and he gets called that by several characters), as its implied his skin is of a particularly dark shade.
* WarriorPoet: Isaac Sutherland, a variant thirteen and ''tanindo'' master who enjoys philosophizing his nature even more than Carl.
* WhamLine: "I'm a bonobo". Not that relevant to the metaplot, but a major revelation for the setting nonetheless.
** "I'm a thirteen" is later used in similar context with similar repercussions to the setting that aren't actually that significant to the protagonist.
* WhatMeasureIsANonHuman: Explored in its applicability to human variants through the eyes of humans and vice versa. Some consider the variants to be broken humans, some regard them as subhuman, others (thirteens themselves most of all) consider them a whole separate race.
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