Book Reviews

Body Option by Talya Andor at Less Than Three Press

Genre Gay / Science Fiction / Military/Former Military / Romance
Reviewed by Serena Yates on 04-May-2014

Book Blurb

For five years, Grant Badu has been part of a solid fighting team with the Gemini Suit called Trefoil Argent. Together, they fly and fight so effectively, their combat record so impressive, that they've become informally known as the Infallible Duo.

When a case containing classified military innovations is stolen and shot down in the foothills of disputed border territory, Grant and Argent are tapped for its swift recovery. But the mission requires pilot Argent to take on the one cybernetic option he's been avoiding, for reasons even Grant doesn't know.

 

Book Review

The idea of a human inside a machine, whether for survival purposes or, in this case, because it makes them a better soldier, fascinates me. So when I read this blurb, I knew the story would be interesting. I did have one caveat, and I kept that a long way into the book, up until almost the end when Argent, the guy inside the fighting suit, laid my worries to rest. More about that later. After reading the book I have to admit that I totally loved it.

For one thing, the world building is excellent, and therefore deserves a paragraph of its own. Talya Andor has created a post-apocalyptic scenario where war (both using human foot soldiers and chemical warfare) are outlawed after thirty years of “Poison War” atrocities. Yet, unsurprisingly, the splintered nations find different ways of fighting for supremacy, and have moved to using drones, robots, and advanced cybernetics. Secondly, the two main characters Talya uses to tell the story are amazing, utterly believable, and the way romance “creeps in” had me smiling because it wasn’t entirely unexpected yet very well done.

Grant, the weapons specialist of the duo, and in possession of a full human body, seems pretty straightforward. He is a soldier through and through, knows what he wants, and loves the intellectual sparring he engages in with his pilot—the consciousness in charge of their flight-capable fighting suit. The camaraderie and trust between the two are amazing, and they know a lot about each other, except for the things Argent has never shared. All Grant knows is that he was one of the first disabled children offered either a “repair” of their body when cybernetics advanced far enough, or a position fighting their enemies in a flight capable suit. What Grant doesn’t know is why Argent never “took the body option”, a chance to get a physical body cloned from his own DNA. He respects Argent too much to ask, and doesn’t want to endanger their partnership, friendship even, but he does wonder.

Argent remains a bit of a riddle, since we never hear from him, but it was better that way, since his thoughts would have spoiled the surprise and slight twist revealed toward the end. I loved watching him struggle through the events and really enjoyed hearing his side of the story when it finally came out. His statement of being “human waste” just poured into a cybernetic bodysuit was exactly my caveat mentioned above—the assumption that all disabled people need, or even want, “repairs” is utterly insulting. If you think about it, it is the same thing as assuming that gay people can be “healed”. But the way Argent himself put it, and how Talya Andor dealt with that problem put my mind not exactly at ease, but I could see what she was trying to do. It made the story even more powerful for me.

If you like futuristic stories that examine the “human condition” and what we might do if we had certain technological options, if you enjoy reading about military men who may have very different ways of approaching the same problem but are united in their objective of defeating the enemy by any means necessary, and if you’re looking for a love story in an unusual setting, then you will probably like this novella. I have to say it really grew on me to the point where it’s going on the list of books to revisit.

 

 

 

 

DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been purchased y the reviewer.

Additional Information

Format ebook
Length Novella, 18000 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 02-April-2014
Price $1.99 ebook
Buy Link http://bit.ly/2mqx7wX