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Publisher's Summary

The debut novel from highly regarded short-story author David Marusek, Counting Heads pushes the limits of the genre. Life in the year 2134 is nearly perfect, with nanotechnology and medical science granting people near-immortality. But when Sam Harger is flagged as a terrorist, his powerful wife dies in a plane crash, and his daughter's cryogenically frozen head becomes a sought-after prize, Sam must fight to save the human race from a secret cabal.
©2005 David Marusek (P)2009 Recorded Books, LLC
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Critic Reviews

"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." ( Publishers Weekly)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
2 out of 5 stars
By Jeremy Preston on 09-14-16


What would have made Counting Heads better?

While it isn't horribly written, I feel you could have taken half the story and just thrown it away. It made no difference- just plodding along tediously slow. It failed to keep my interest, so much so that I stopped listening less than halfway through and only finished it because I didn't have anything else.While it may be reminiscent of William Gibson, it fails to keep your interest in what will happen next- especially by being let down on that front so many times during the book. It's like watching a three hour movie only to find out the only good parts are in the last half-hour.

What could David Marusek have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

The pace needed to be picked up quite a bit. There are little gems of interest here, but they are few and far between.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Kevin Free?

I heard this narrator yawning (!) while narrating, about four times. Could they not have edited that? In addition, his characterizations seem very off to me, and made the story that much less enjoyable. He actually channels Steve Urkel for one of the main characters and it was so annoying- through the entire book. He also characterizes an extremely prominent political council as a group of bored spoiled teenage girls- it was really bad, in my opinion and I don't think the author intended that. I hate to knock a narrator like that, but dangit I'm paying for this and I had to suffer through that for many hours- it was painful.

What character would you cut from Counting Heads?

Characters don't need to be cut- half the tedious plot needs to be cut.

Any additional comments?

I got this book based on other's reviews here and comparisons with William Gibson.

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1 of 3 people found this review helpful

2 out of 5 stars
By Michael G Kurilla on 09-24-11

More like a chicken with its head cut off

Although conceptually intriguing, the basic plot is too thinly laid out to sustain the story. The tale begins in the late 21st century where nanotechnology has resulted in immortality. There are vague references to terrorist applications that result in an almost police like state environment with designer "slugs: wandering around sampling people to determine genetic identity and infestation by "nasties" all of which is controlled by a mysterious entity known as HomCom (Homeland Command). Our hero gets caught up in a covert insider attempt to hinder the political rise of his wife and while eventually acknowledged as a mistake, must spend the rest of his life as a "seared" or nanotech-less which is a death sentence.

The story then jumps ahead 40 years with our hero as an old man, nearing death. His former wife is suddenly killed and the "head" of their daughter goes missing and the remainder of the story is concerned with getting her head back in order to rebuild her. It is at this point that the plot really begins to strain credulity. For example, while births have become all but legally impossible due to immortality, over the past 40 years, human clone lines have been developed for routine occupations. It's not clear why this was even necessary. There's also the police state like behavior at the national level, but elimination of the metropolitan dome (which is suppose to keep out the nasties) is handled at the city level. Finally, the bulk of the lower classes (non clone lines) appear to live in bands of vaguely defined "charters" that don't make sense. The AI forms as legal entities comes off as merely childish.

There's little if any reasons provided for why destruction of the head is important, the final denouement of head saving is comical and contrived. The 1984-like conspiracy that should drive the plot is never resolved to any satisfactory conclusion. Disappointing to say the least.

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1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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