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The Ultra Thin Man

(Worlds of the Union #1)

3.30  ·  Rating details ·  190 ratings  ·  59 reviews
In the twenty-second century, a future in which mortaline wire controls the weather on the settled planets and entire refugee camps drowse in drug-induced slumber, no one—alive or dead, human or alien—is quite what they seem. When terrorists manage to crash Coral, the moon, into its home planet of Ribon, forcing evacuation, it’s up to Dave Crowell and Alan Brindos, contrac ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published August 12th 2014 by Tor Books
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Average rating 3.30  · 
Rating details
 ·  190 ratings  ·  59 reviews

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Althea Ann
Jun 04, 2014 rated it it was ok
This is a light, action-oriented spy thriller with a sci-fi setting.

It moved along quickly, but I ended up having a lot of issues with it.

The beginning (featuring a gratuitous lesbian make-out scene) wasn't promising, but with the exception of one, mercifully brief (but still cringe-inducing) sex scene, the bad romance is minimal. The women are still written throughout as if they're something out of a teenage boy's imagination (and WHY do most of them work in a brothel, when prostitution is 10
Patrick Swenson
Jul 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
I'm putting 5 stars because I'm the author of the book. I wanted to add it here on Goodreads and take this opportunity to thank YOU for adding it, and I hope when you read it you enjoy it! I loved putting it together.
Aug 11, 2014 rated it it was ok
My thanks to Tor and NetGalley for providing me with a digital review copy. No compensation was provided for this review, and all opinions are my own.

Warning: you are now entering a rant-filled zone.

The Ultra Thin Man introduces us to the interplanetary Union, a political body comprised of a handful of planets – including Earth – and uniting several species. Humans live among Memors and Helks, alien species that made contact with Earth’s scientists. The Network Intelligence Organization is task
Beth Cato
Jul 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science, netgalley, 2014
I received an advanced copy of the book from the publisher via NetGalley.

This fast-paced read is a private detective noir set in a space opera. The sci-fi element is integral to the story, and adds deep, twisty-turny elements to the plot. As I read, I had a sense that I could be really confused at several points, but Swenson's pacing is perfect--he knows just when to slow things down and allow his character some introspection before all hell breaks loose again.

Dave Crowell is the first-person na
Fantasy Literature
Aug 16, 2014 rated it liked it
I have to admit that sometimes I hate reviewing first-time novels. Not those first-time novels where you can't believe this was a first foray into novel writing and not the product of an experienced author using a pen name. And not those first-time novels where you can't believe no one — an editor, a reading group, a spouse — suggested that perhaps the book wasn't quite ready for prime time (or late, late night even). And certainly not those first novels that are so painfully, obviously trying t ...more
Sep 20, 2014 rated it it was ok
Two private detectives who are working for the government's spy agency uncover some kind of conspiracy after a terrorist attack on a distant planet kills millions of people.

Full disclosure, I won a free copy of this through a giveaway (although not one through Goodreads). This did not affect my review.

I should also note that this is a first novel, and traditionally I give those a little more leeway... however, even with that leeway, I can't say I really enjoyed it very much.

The book is a somewha
Jessica Strider
Oct 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Pros: interesting plot, mostly fast paced, new aliens species

Cons: confusing opening, slow beginning

Memor technology allows humans to colonize several worlds. The Network Intelligence Office has been trying to catch Terl Plenko, leader of the Movement terrorist group. Plenko has been encouraging the colonies to leave the Union, using violent methods. The death of Plenko’s mate during an NIO mission on the Ribon colony puts investigative partners Dave Crowell and Alan Brindos on Plenko’s trail. H
Jul 22, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf

Publisher: Tor
Publishing Date: August 2014
ISBN: 9780765336941
Genre: SciFi
Rating: 1.6/5

Publisher Description: In the twenty-second century, a future in which mortaline wire controls the weather on the settled planets and entire refugee camps drowse in drug-induced slumber, no one—alive or dead, human or alien—is quite what they seem. When terrorists manage to crash Coral, the moon, into its home planet of Ribon, forcing evacuation, it’s up to Dave Crowe
Dec 23, 2018 rated it liked it
The Ultra Thin Man is a first novel by Patrick Swenson. I tend to cut first timers a lot of slack-all credit to them they wrote a book something I have never done. And give Swenson props for trying to write a story in which the action is constant-it is hard to sustain that kind of momentum. Sadly despite Swenson's best efforts we have a mediocre story with a too convenient ending. Three stars is the best I can do.
Tim Hicks
May 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
There are two things almost guaranteed to bog down any SF story: clones/replicants and the use of unobtainium as a key plot element. This book has both.

As others have noted, we have cardboard characters that don't develop.

And there are other issues: (view spoiler)
Aug 01, 2014 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Nobody. It's just too dumb.
A couple hundred years in the future, humanity has formed an eight-planet Union alongside two sentient alien races. A terrorist group called the Movement of Worlds runs around blowing things up to foment unrest and destroy the Union. Two agents of the NIO (basically the interplanetary CIA) hunt the Movement's bin Laden figurehead.

First, I gotta say that The Ultra Thin Man needed a much better editor. There were far too many typos and jarring disconnects:

"On the facing page was a photo of five
Mar 03, 2016 rated it it was ok
The premise of the book got me to pick it up. PI's in space, caught up in conspiracies. Sounds interesting.

But it never became interesting. The characters are thin. The aliens act like humans. I couldn't tell the Helk from the human he's running around with. The two main human characters come off as flat. The book flips between a first person perspective of one, then a third person for the other. It didn't work well for me.

There isn't a lot that is adequately explained. The biggest one is how do
Angie Boyter
With a starred review from Publisher's Weekly and an interesting-sounding description, I was looking forward to a good read, but I gave up after 50 pages. The plot does sound promising, but the writing is too unpolished. WAY too often I find myself saying, "Huh"? and having to re-read a sentence that does not quite make sense or that is very awkward. This severely interrupts the flow for me. This happened often enough that I read some of the sentences aloud to my husband, who agreed that they we ...more
Ev N
Jul 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People who enjoy Science Fiction
Recommended to Ev by: An ARC from TOR
Enjoyed jumping between planets with two Private Investigators who find themselves embroiled in a complex inter-world conspiracy. The characters are many, as are the locations, but Swenson managed to write in a way that you do keep up with who is who and where is where. The chapters flop back and forth between the two main characters as they mostly work separately on this case. They are constantly in danger and take some serious damage as they stumble closer to knowing what is really happening ...more
Don Priest
Dec 30, 2014 rated it did not like it
I almost stopped reading a third of the way in, and now I wish I had. The story is borderline nonsensical, the characters are bland and forgettable, the action is weak and inconsistent, and fights have no real sense of danger or pacing (a battle against supposedly overwhelming odds ends quickly, with the enemy completely defeated, and the good guys practically unscathed). The bad guys are laughably incompetent, and the world-building is incredibly shoddy.

Do not read this book.
Brenda Cooper
Sep 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I very much enjoyed this debut novel. Patrick Swenson has created a believable and interesting noir SF world, and I'm ready to read a sequel.
Mark Austin
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
The books started off strong - scifi private detective novel, a seeming government conspiracy with a twist. Somewhere on the way, however, I lost the personal connection with the heroes, perhaps when the one of the supposed villains the heroes were on the run from became the very thing they were trying to save with the assumption that it was a great good.

It seemed like much of what was going on was just happening to the protagonists instead of a result of their choices and there was a strange e
Jan 19, 2020 rated it liked it
I enjoy a good noir mystery, and adding a science fiction setting with competent world-building should have made this a home run for me, but the story and its protagonist never really drew me in.
Feb 10, 2018 rated it liked it
I don't normally read this genre, so I didn't know what to expect. After a slow start, I did get involved in the book and I wanted to know how it ended.
Sep 20, 2014 rated it liked it
Mon avis en Français

My English review

When I received the book, I admit that I was not expecting much about it. I’m not a big fan of science fiction. It’s not a genre that appeals to me particularly, but I like to try something different from time to time and sometimes it can surprise me. I did not really know much about this book or the author but I must say that planets, aliens, and the whole thing are usually a bit difficult for me. But it is true that I was still curious by the survey regardi
Sep 15, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
Review written for and published by Portland Book Review on January 28th:

In a future world where new technology can control the weather, and humanity has discovered it’s not alone in the vast reaches of space, a terrorist organization threatens the galactic peach by slamming a moon into the planet of Ribon. Dan Crowell and Alan Brindos, previously private detectives turned contract agents for the NIO (Network Intelligence Organization), are sent to investigate. Separated and alone, Crowell and B
Michael Cummings
Aug 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Let me first dissuade you - if you want to read this book because you expect Nick, Nora, and Asta to make an appearance, this isn’t that kind of Thin Man. Nor is this “Gumshoe - In Space!” - not quite. There is a certain homage to Dashiell Hammett in this novel, a flair of the noir in its tongue in cheek references to fedoras and trenchcoats, private investigators, and hunting down criminal masterminds in modern speakeasies. It is very much a science fiction novel, though, of that variety of thr ...more
Karl Geiger
Sep 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
This novel badly needed an editor. Ironic, considering the flyleaf asserts the author is a publisher and presumably knows one or two.

The first half of the story is nearly incoherent. For no apparent dramatic reason, the two protagonists present different vantages: Alan Brindos is written in the third person, Dave Crowell in the first. The two stories interleave chapter by chapter. Continuity lacks even within the two narratives, never mind between them.

No character development or arcs occur, apa
Jul 02, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: contest-wins
So the title is misleading. There is no character that is extremely thin. Thin in this world refers to the actual size of wires used in building a weather device called the Conduit. Ultra in this world refers to an alien race that is far superior to our own. This story, therefore, follows what happens when a superior alien race wants to introduce their technology in a sinister way to take over society.

Society as most people know it consists of three races: helks, memors, and humans. They are sca
Antonio Urias
Aug 13, 2014 rated it liked it
This review and others are available on my blog.

The Ultra Thin Man is a space opera noir following Dave Crowell and Alan Brindos, contract detectives for the Network Intelligence Organization as they attempt to unravel an interstellar conspiracy that stretches from the highest rungs of society to the terrorist Movement of Worlds, led by an alien giant, Terl Plenko.

Swenson effortless adapts a number of noir tropes to his twenty-second century setting. Dave Crowell could have stepped out of the
Fred P
Sep 12, 2014 rated it liked it
This book started out strong. The premise is that a weather-control system actually has a sinister purpose. Two parallel plotlines follow a pair of investigators as they try to identify the culprits, uncovering a massive plot to subvert the governments of the galactic union. A clever plot and strong action writing propel the characters through this mystery, even when their minds are swapped to alien bodies.

Where the book falls short is in the conclusion. We never find out who is responsible for
Sarah (Workaday Reads)
Oct 17, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2014
rather on the fence about this book. On one hand, this an intricate conspiracy story set on multiple planets with aliens and duel narration. On the other hand, the narrators are so identical they’re almost interchangeable and the world building is woeful low on details.

Breaking it down, looking at characters first. The story is narrated by two old-school private investigators in alternating chapters. One has a first person narrative while the other has a third person narrative. That’s about the
Dec 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
The year is 2113. Our heroes are two agents of the Network Intelligence Organization, gumshoes of the highest order. After the apparent suicide of a probable associate, and an antimatter attack that destroyed a moon and wrecked an entire planet, Gumshoe #1 is on the trail of the alien leader of the terrorist Movement of Worlds. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, his partner, Gumshoe #2, is on the hunt for those responsible for framing him and his partner for treason most foul. And just who, or what, ...more
Kristene Perron
Oct 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Action, mystery, and furry aliens … what more could I ask for in a book? Swenson’s tone and pacing are perfect—I swear I could hear Harrison Ford’s Blade Runner voice narrating as I read—and more than one twist caught me completely by surprise.

While on a routine investigation, detectives Alan Brindos and Dave Crowell find themselves way over their heads, caught in a web of conspiracy that spans worlds. The tension never lets up as the protagonists dig through layer upon layer of secrets while m
Dec 23, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I don't know what I was thinking. I mean, the cover should've given it away. I went into this story with the idea that this book was about the creepypasta Thin Man. It wasn't long after the two girls cut up their friend in the name of the Thin Man. But let's put that aside.

Swenson's pretty ambitious here, just basically world building right before your eyes. I love stories like that. I'm of the school of thought that characterization doesn't necessarily need to apply to the characters in the st
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Patrick is a writer, publisher, editor, and teacher. His first novel is entitled The Ultra Thin Man, forthcoming from Tor in 2014. He has sold stories to the anthology Like Water for Quarks, and magazines such as Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine, Figment, and others.

Other books in the series

Worlds of the Union (2 books)
  • The Ultra Big Sleep

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