by John Nelson
Cover Artist: Adobe Stock
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Cosmic Egg Books Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781785353307
Date: 27 May 2016 List Price $18.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Humans have been upgraded to be more efficient. But those upgrades come with a price, less connection to the people around them. This loss of emotional ties makes work hard for some people. Alan Reynard works for a contractor. He shows a level of empathy and intuition rarely found in enhanced humans. This makes him both useful and feared.
Those who choose not to become enhanced are referred to as "borny". Alan has infiltrated borny communities in the past looking for trouble and signs of unrest. His most recent deep cover involved a pretend marriage to Emma. They had a deeper connection, one that is a concern to the government, but there is a greater problem.
Alan is sent to the Southwest to infiltrate a community of spiritual healers. In order to learn about the group, Alan undergoes a healing. The healing creates paths and options which open up the future, a future that some don't want to come about. He must decide whether to help or hinder the makers of the enhancements that allow him access to great insights.
This novel is set in an established universe, but does not seem to be a direct sequel to the previous entrants. I was able to follow the story without having read any of the earlier material. Although hinted at, I would have liked to see a little more of borny society and how they view enhanced humans.
The story is told from the first person perspective. It follows Alan through his journeys. This is a big switch from the third person multi-POV novels I have been reading recently. The clean prose doesn't get lost in changing perspectives allowing readers to just go with the flow of the story.
The thing that drew me to this story was the idea of bio-enhanced humans. This exploration was focused on normal individuals. This in contrast to the military science fiction where I first encountered enhanced brains where most of the enhanced were soldiers. The encounters of soldiers are focused on survival and battle, not humans becoming all they can in noncombat situations. The tech in military SF is often more tech- than bio- based.
There was also a little hint of the potential for the future as people reach their full potential. I definitely recommend this novel for people looking to explore the bounds of humanity. I am also likely to go check out some of the author's earlier works to see how this world developed.