In a New York ravaged by climate change and repeat pandemics, Kobo is barely scraping by. He scouts the latest in gene-edited talent for Big Pharma-owned baseball teams, but his own cybernetics are a decade out of date and twin sister loan sharks are banging down his door. Things couldn't get much worse.Then his brother is murdered at home plate. To keep himself together while the world is falling apart, he'll have to navigate a time where both body and soul are sold to the highest bidder.
Pushing genre boundaries is like rushing into a firefight while trying to balance an egg on a spoon. And yet, in his fun, thoughtful, and strange debut novel, The Body Scout, Lincoln Michel seems to have made his way through said firefight with egg firmly in spoon ... When it comes to mixing genres, Michel has a chef’s sensibility for complementary tastes ... Some might pause over Michel’s surreal world-building...however, the novel introduces these details with enough consistency and clarity of intent that a good-faith reader will soon be on the same wavelength. There’s also enough capital A action and satisfying answers to the novel’s dramatic questions to reward readers when they get to the end of the book—which, comparisons notwithstanding, is a refreshing and assuredly unique work.
... blends noir, cyberpunk and sports into something at once timeless and original ... Kobo’s love for and grief over his brother animates every page, and the real gravity of those feelings exists in affecting contrast to the glib, corporatized dystopia he inhabits. Michel’s writing is beautiful, too, breathing sophisticated life into stock genre types, and illuminating vast tracts of story with casual wrist-flicks of world building. The Body Scout is a wild ride, sad and funny, surreal and intelligent.
...fun in the same way frog dissection day in middle school biology is fun. It’s largely unpleasant (beyond the stomach-churning gore, there’s a vague sense of wrongness that underpins both) yet offers a kind of perverse permission to witness what Cornel West might call the 'funk of life'...and has the power to fascinate, captivate, and perhaps even illuminate ... The novel is largely satirical in tone. Michel takes your average conflicts of late-stage capitalism—housing crises, insurmountable debt, employers with no sense of obligation or empathy for their employees—and exaggerates them into their most monstrous forms ... Of course, like all good science fiction (and satire), Michel tempts us to consider the ways in which this is already true: to what extent are professional sports leagues already corporate-run marketing schemes engineered to distract the public from an increasingly dire reality? ... The world Michel describes is complex, gnarled, full of unfamiliar lingo (Edenists, trogstoys, zootech), but he interweaves world building with plot so seamlessly that the rapid-fire pace he sets never feels bogged down by exposition ... The novel’s bent toward surrealism and its thematic concerns—many of which circle the elusive question of what constitutes the self—call to mind the work of Philip K. Dick in particular, but the sci-fi traditions Michel draws from are as varied and outlandishly collaged as the piecemeal humans of his imagined future ... one is never without the sense that Michel is having an enormous amount of fun in his sandbox, creating worlds with an equal measure of hard-won skill and a sense of spirited, mischievous play.