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Spares

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4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  1,856 ratings  ·  132 reviews
Imagine a future--next year, perhaps?--in which the wealthy clone themselves at birth to provide spare parts for their bodies as they become needed. Drop into that scenario a tough but compassionate ex-cop who decides to liberate seven "spares" from the farm where they're being kept until needed, and you've got a lively, very moving combination of genres that has already b...more
Published (first published 1996)
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Stephen
5.0 stars. This was an incredible novel. I would describe it as science ficiton "noir" in the family of Blade Runner or the Takeshi Kovacs novels by Richard Morgan. Brilliantly written and peopled with superb characters, this one is highly recommended.


Nominee: Britsh Fantasy Award for Best Novel
Bill
Michael Marshall Smith totally blew me away with Only Forward, so Spares was going to be a tough act to follow. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite as great as Only Forward (few books are), but the quality of writing was right up to par.

I get the feeling that MMS' stories are an outlet for him to get a few things off his chest. His characters tend to wax philosophic during lulls in the action, and where this seems to annoy some readers, I found these lulls the best parts of the novel.
Like Stephen Ki...more
Stuart
This book was TERRIBLE.

I had 2 chief complaints with the book:
1) The writing is piss poor.
2) The story has almost nothing to do with the "Spares". A more fitting title would have been "Crackhead Ex-Cop".

Let's just assume for a moment that Michael Marshall Smith actually wrote a book about the Spares. Here's a rundown of the *completely* believable premise.

In the near future, rich people pay lots of money to keep clones of themselves in "farms". Whenever injured, the rich people just carve a piec...more
Mark Woods
Spares was written way back before Michael Marshall dropped the Smith from his name, was just starting out as an author and was single-handily responsible for some of the best British sci-fi that had been seen in years! The third of his offerings after One Of Us and the ground-breaking Only Forward, Spares was a novel that redefined the term Cyberpunk and gave us something entirely different from anything we had seen before. Part comedy, part tragedy, part post-modern satire, Spares takes us on...more
Dorie
I've come to count on Michael Smith for imaginative, quite bizarre stories that are well written with an interesting main character. This story is set in the future and is about Jack Randall, an ex-soldier in the war in The Gap. You don't actually find out what this means until the last quarter of the book. After his wife and daughter were murdered, Jack was quietly sent out of New Richmond to a Spares farm, where important people keep their genetic clones handy in case of accidents. You never k...more
John Dalton
This is an excellent and strange book. It's a sci-fi noir detective thriller with some serious excursions into surrealist territory, and liberal helpings of humour thrown in between all the drugs and violence. Despite this confusion, the author has managed to pull off a cohesive story with fully fleshed-out characters in a vividly described world.[return][return]A cop goes off the rails after a mob hit on his family takes away all he had left in life. He wasn't exactly on the rails to begin with...more
Carrie
The point of art is to create a reaction in people, good or bad, the stronger the better. Michael Marshall Smith always accomplishes that with me, but unfortunately in this case it was a hate reaction. I had previously read and loved "One of Us" and "Only Forward", so dove into this book eagerly.

MMS always creates interesting, oddball worlds that are very full and developed around the characters. I found the clone concept to be very upsetting in and of itself - the entire way it was set up and...more
Arwen56
Questo romanzo l’ho letto nel 1999 e ricordo che non mi era piaciuto per nulla. Mi è tornato in mente solo perché ho visto il film Non lasciarmi, tratto dall’omonimo romanzo di Kazuo Ishiguro, che mi sono affrettata a mettere in wish list.
Il tema affrontato è lo stesso, ovvero la clonazione umana al solo scopo di fornire, in caso di necessità, organi da trapiantare senza che causino problemi di rigetto. Ma è il tenore ad essere completamente diverso. Sono proprio curiosa di leggerlo, perché Kaz...more
Richard Anderson

A damaged cop (ho hum). Clones bred for replacement body parts (wait a minute). Flying malls that function as cities (what?). These are the main elements of Michael Marshall Smith’s dystopian noir thriller Spares.


Rapt-addicted ex-cop, Jack Randall, has dropped off the grid following a great personal tragedy. He takes a job as caretaker of one of the farms that houses clones (the “spares” referred to in the title) who are bred by the rich as insurance against failing bodies. Following a Jack Dan...more
Johnathan Meerfeld
A knockout every time. guess you can't really get used to Genius...

a real contender here for the best book i have ever read.
The story is, in my honest opinion, a simple one.

Very minor spoilers ahead, mind you:

A man who has (seemingly) lost everything, and is haunted, and hunted, for things he did in his past, tries for once to do something good for someone else. this "someone" happens to be a group of "spares", or human clones, grown for the simple and bloody-minded purpose of insuring their "re...more
Panagiotis
The second book of MMS that i read. Similar motive with ''only forward'', a broken protagonist fights against everything to get things straight, and the presence of two parallel worlds. Not as excellent as my first one but still a remarkable book.

Many funny moments -i love the writer's sense of humour- a lot of action, a mysterious parallel world named the Gap - trully captivating-,interesting characters and a strong dosis of redemption structure this beautiful story.

I must say that i loved th...more
Tim Elsenburg
Quietly stunned. The first two-thirds is a beautifully constructed sci-fi dystopian noir, but then in the final third, with the appearance of The Gap, Spares becomes truly extraordinary. At this point, we're introduced to a place that perhaps only a later-period William Burroughs (Cities of the Red Night, Western Lands) could've made real.

Generally, abstraction probably isn't a great help when trying to keep a plot moving, especially at the climax of a novel, but I think I happily evolved sever...more
Michelle
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alain Dewitt
Where do I begin? I recall hearing on a podcast or reading somewhere that this book influenced Richard Morgan's Takeshi Kovacs trilogy (a huge favorite of mine). And in reading 'Spares' I had to remind myself that 'Spares' was published before 'Altered Carbon'.

'Spares''s hero (well anti-hero actually) reminds me a lot of Morgan's Takeshi Kovacs. 'Spares' doesn't have the same wide scope as 'AC' (no space travel and no colony worlds for Randall to explore). Most of the action takes place in New R...more
Evelyn
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kelanth, numquam risit ubi dracones vivunt
Questo libro è stata una piacevole sorpresa. Anzi, non propriamente una sorpresa, visto le molte recensioni positive che ho sempre visto riguardo a questo titolo. Era da tantissimo che l'avevo nella lista "da leggere" e immancabilmente finiva sotto qualcosa d'altro. Chissà perchè, visto che questo libro mi ha veramente divertito.
Era da tempo che non trovavo un'ambientazione così benfatto e meraviglioso nella sua costruzione, nella sua cupezza, nella sua originalità. Un mondo dove un'enorme citt...more
Malcolm
Jack Randall is a mess, and so he is perfect as a hard boiled loner of the Sam Spade variety – wise-cracking, flawed and damaged war veteran all out to do the right thing, and what’s more it is set against a dystopian high tech future. Dashiell Hammett it ain’t.

I found the book really hard to get hold of; the first third, where we’re still not really sure what’s going on, reads like an anti- police procedural in a drug infested, impoverished city, with some bad-ass medical procedures thrown in...more
Julia Walsh
This is the first of Michael Marshall Smith’s work I’ve read, but I’m still not sure how I feel about it. I enjoyed the plotline about the darker side of cloning and I thought there were some wonderful ideas at work, particularly in Smith’s depiction of a bizarre, and truly disturbing dystopian future and the stratified society inhabiting a 200 storey flying shopping mall. At first I found his writing a bit irritating, and was annoyed by the unexplained tech but once I got into the novel I start...more
Robert
During freshers week, when I first went to University, back in 1999, the freebies they were handing out on my campus were pretty damn good. Today, you're lucky if you get two pens and a slice of pizza. Back then, Waterstones was at Freshers Fair, and they were handing out BOOKS!

Well, a book, to be precise. A sampler, with chapters from a variety of books that Waterstones thought were up-and-coming and cool. And, from that sampler, I ended up outright buying half a dozen novels. One of them was M...more
Duncan
This is the second book I've read by Michael Marshall and only the first under the name Michael Marshall Smith - ie of his Sci-Fi books. I chose it from the brief synopsis which outlined a similar scenario to 'Never Let Me Go' a world where genetic clones are raised only for donor organs - the Spares of the title. This was always going to be a different approach to that story, but as a powerful concept I thought it had plenty legs. This book is much more immediate and involved, an action novel w...more
Lau

Leí Clones hace 11 años y tenía pendiente releerlo. Me imaginaba que lo iba a entender/disfrutar más ahora, y efectivamente así fue.
Por si no queda claro con el nombre del libro, es una distopía de ciencia ficción, y por momentos, una de las más crudas que he que he leído hasta ahora (ríanse de Los Juegos del Hambre).
Mientras lo leía pensaba que si uno hiciera una línea de tiempo de los hechos, lo que ocurre en "tiempo presente" es la mitad de la historia o menos. Hay una enorme cantidad de flas...more
Joanne Parkington
Phew !! I've finally finished it !! I'm not the biggest sci-fi reader but after reading The Straw Men i thought i'd read this & see what all the hype was about. Don't get me wrong, i enjoyed it alot, especially the character of Jack Randall who, for me, had shades of Alec Leamas about him .. a sort of futile detachment from the world & all the people in it and a firm belief that whatever good deed's he tries to do his bad deed's of the past will always rise up & thwart them. I liked...more
Donovan
Not quite up there when compared to Only Forward, it is a stark look at the idea of human cloning and where it could lead (with the typical mind trip that Marshall-Smith likes to introduce.

Plot ***Spoilers***
Take one surreal, futuristic city, built in the wreckage of a five-mile square shopping-mall-airship. Blend with copious amounts of illegal, mind-altering substances. Gently fold in a network of villains with all the odds in their favour. Take one hero – he should be morally challenged, conf...more
Nicolas
Avant d’aller plus loin, un avertissement au lecteur. Il s’agit d’un ouvrage de Michael Marshall Smith. Il faut donc dès le départ abandonner pas mal de choses au vestiaire : comme par exemple l’illusion souvent entretenue que le personnage principal doit être positif, car l’auteur a des racines manifestement issues du roman noir, et son héros part toujours (tout au moins dans les différents romans que j’ai lu) d’une image assez classique du privé un peu glauque, limite malhonnête et trop souven...more
Ugh
This is pretty similar to Only Forward, Smith's first novel, except that this one doesn't descend into tedious drivel halfway through... Both feature a very interesting setting and a street-smart but self-depracating male protagonist who knows how to handle himself as a result of a somewhat shady past and who embarks mostly unwillingly on a mission that involves wise-cracking, shooting and often jammily stumbling through a series of encounters with quirky people in odd locations. Both hence have...more
Lucy
Jack Randall is an washed out ex-soldier, ex-cop who has spent the last five years guarding a Farm. Now he’s on the run with six (well, five and a half) fugitives from the Farm. He’s heading back to the place he swore he’d never return to—the gargantuan city of New Richmond, where he left behind the few friends he still had, and a host of enemies. There’s a price on his head, and some very dangerous baddies out for blood. And whole pieces of the past he thought he had left behind for good are st...more
Sam
Although I loved the premise of this book I did find the actual story a little over exhuberent with more about Jack Randall and his various problems, dilemmas and issues than about the Spares themselves, who only make occasional appearances during the story. It is an engrossing story and an image of the future that is utterly terrifying in its simplicity and its potential. However, there were times where I found my attention flagging a little as MMS went on a bit of a detour here and there and g...more
Emmanuel
Les prémisses de cette histoire, qui donnent son titre au livre, ne sont pas totalement surprenantes : des clones qui servent de pièces détachées. Mais ce n'est pas grave, en fait l'histoire ne parle pas vraiment d'eux, plutôt de la société de New Richmond (un peu à la monades urbaines) puis de la brêche (quoi que ce puisse être) et surtout de cet anti-héros ex-flic, ex-fermier, yeux-de-feu qui sert de narrateur.

Après Avance Rapide, j'ai trouvé que la brêche était de trop, elle n'apporte pas gra...more
Tom Dale
Quite a bit Stainless Steel Rat, some Neuromancer and dim shades of Never Let Me Go. Having seen the film The Island which is sort-of-not-really based on it, I was initially surprised how far they'd departed from the story and it took me a while to adjust to the fact that this wasn't really any relation to it.

The hard-boiled protagonist is creaky as a main character, the other leads don't get much beyond cardboard cut-outs (the most 'real' of them is a robot), the spares themselves barely featu...more
Frank
Once again, Smith delivers with a book that defies genres. It's a strong sci-fi story with threads of humor and big chunks of horror blended together with mind-opening psychological components dealing with life, relationships, and whether a person can ever escape their past and live in the present.
I've read nearly all of his works and this book is an excellent part of his bibliography.
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Michael Marshall (Smith) is a bestselling novelist and screenwriter. His first novel, ONLY FORWARD, won the August Derleth and Philip K. Dick awards. SPARES and ONE OF US were optioned for film by DreamWorks and Warner Brothers, and the Straw Men trilogy - THE STRAW MEN, THE LONELY DEAD and BLOOD OF ANGELS - were international bestsellers. His most recent novels are THE INTRUDERS, BAD THINGS and K...more
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“and only when that happens do you realise just how much silence there really is. Silence between lovers, when something really needs to be said; silence from a parent when a child needs some word more than anything else in the world; silences and in betweens and everything which isn’t an answer.” 5 likes
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