After the initial excitement of ‘Human Blend’ where the good Dr. Ingred Seastrom and the not so good but streetwise Whispr find themselves on the run from corporate assassins, the second volume, ‘Body, Inc.’, moves the story to southern Africa. In Forster’s vision of the future, it is called the South African Economic Combine and covers most of what is left of southern Africa after the water levels rise following the melting of the ice caps.
What brings Dr Seastrom and Whispr to Africa is the search for clues to understanding the strange silver thread Whispr purloined and the small nanoscale devices Dr Seastrom found in the heads of teen-agers with bad melds. For those yet to read book 1, body melding is changing any aspect of the human body. While teen-agers typically go for changes to their looks it could also be a change to improve the efficiency of a person. Getting extra arms seems quite popular. Assassins and thugs also make use of body melds to either bulk up on muscle or to get a technological edge.
The unlikely duo had two aims in fleeing to southern Africa. The first was to throw off any pursuers and the second was to get closer to the research and development centre. Dr. Seastrom believes she will only get the answers to her questions from someone at the research centre were the mysterious silver thread was created. Speaking of pursuers, Napum Molé is the only corporate assassin who is able to track the pair down. While he has the guise of a short, elderly gentleman, he is very good at what he does. You don’t get to be a long-lived assassin unless you are the very best. Of course, he also has some serious body melds to aid him in his deadly line of work.
Most ‘Body, Inc.’ is taken up with Dr. Seastrom and Whispr’s attempts to locate the research centre while trying to stay ahead of any pursuers. Time is taken to develop the characters’ personalities and provide more detail to the fascinating future world Foster envisages. A highlight is the game park featuring previously extinct animals resurrected from the Pleistocene and Holocene periods. This includes amongst other animals the Smilodon and the Megatherium. These are more commonly known as the Saber-Toothed Tiger and the giant Grand Sloth.
In terms of advancing the plot, not much really happens until the final 18 pages. We do find out just a little bit more about the silver thread and its connection with the nano-sized devices Dr. Seastrom found in some patients. There is what is probably the shortest epilogue I have ever read. It is one sentence of thirteen words that could be interpreted in several ways.
I would have liked to have written a longer review but as I have said, not much happens in this book in terms of advancing the plot. Certainly, Dr. Seastrom and Whispr encounter some interesting individuals on their travels, including corporate thugs and a witch doctor of the modern age. Moving the action to Africa also provides more opportunity to hoe the world might become with global warming and the advent of technology. However, these are just items of note as the Doctor and Whispr go about trying to locate the Research and Development Centre.
The third and final part of the trilogy titled ‘The Sum Of Her Parts’ will hopefully provide the answers to Doctors Seastrom’s questions. It might not be without personal cost though. It all depends on how you interpret the epilogue in ‘Body, Inc.’. I can’t wait to find out.
(pub: Del Rey/Ballantine Books, 2012. 287 page small enlarged paperback. Price: $15.00 (US), $17.00 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-345-51999-7)