New Treasures: The Body Scout by Lincoln Michel
The Body Scout (Orbit, September 2021). Cover by Lauren Panepinto
I rejoined the Science Fiction Book Club over fifteen years ago, because it was the only way to get Jonathan Strahan’s fabulous Best Short Novels anthologies. After a corporate shake-up in 2007 led to the retirement of editor Ellen Asher — who’d been at the helm since 1973 — and Andrew Wheeler was laid off, the SFBC sadly stopped producing original anthologies and those delicious omnibus volumes. I miss them.
I’m still a member, even though their Things to Come newsletter isn’t as interested as it used to be. Partly it’s because they choose my novel The Robots of Gotham as a Feature Selection back in 2018 (a dream I’d had since I was a kid). But also because I still discover interesting books through the club that I don’t find anywhere else. Like Lincoln Michel’s debut novel The Body Scout, a near-future SF noir that looks very intriguing indeed. Here’s the description.
In the future you can have any body you want — as long as you can afford it.
But 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 He scouts the latest in gene-edited talent for Big Pharma-owned baseball teams, but his own cybernetics are a decade out of date and twin sister loan sharks are banging down his door.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 — Monsanto Mets slugger J.J. Zunz — is murdered at home plate.
Determined to find the killer, Kobo plunges into a world of genetically modified CEOs, philosophical Neanderthals, and back-alley body modification, only to quickly find he’s in a game far bigger and more corrupt than he imagined. 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.
The Body Scout was the Featured Selection for the Club last month (alongside Kylie Lee Baker’s fantasy The Keeper of Night), and I ordered them both. I guess I’m just a sucker for good marketing copy (and those club discounts). Check out the SFBC here.
The Body Scout was published by Orbit on September 21, 2021. It is 356 pages, priced at $27 in hardcover and $13.99 in digital formats. The cover was designed by Lauren Panepinto. Read the complete first chapter at Lithub.
See all our recent New Treasures here.
I first joined the SFBC in 1971, and would be an on-again, off-again member 5 or 6 times up to about some time in 2020. Like you, John, I enjoyed those original anthologies, and the great omnibus volumes that allowed me to pick up series authors like Jim Butcher, Charlaine Harris, Laurell K. Hamilton, and Simon R. Green that I’d initially had to pass on when I didn’t have much disposable income. But in my last 4-5 years as a member, the club offered fewer and fewer new SF, fantasy, and horror selections and branched out into other genres. And as someone who had little to no interest in gaming (I’d have been hopelessly addicted had I allowed myself to indulge) and wasn’t geeky enough for deep-diving into “Star Wars” or “Star Trek” to want volumes of tech manuals and schematics, I struggled to find even one new selection that I might have gotten less expensively — and sooner — through Amazon. I was extremely pleased when the SFBC offered publishers’ editions of new books, rather than those more cheaply-bound book club editions, but I just found the offerings from the Club less and less enticing. I don’t miss what it became, but when I sort through old SF paperbacks and find ads for the Club, I miss what it had been; I see dozens of books I never could afford to get when they were new, and that I never found later in ANY form, paperback or hard covers, unless I searched bookstores or, eventually, hunted them down online. I won’t ever be a member again; at 71, it’s time to start letting go of some of what I’ve accumulated. My kids tease me and tell me I should open my own bookstore, but I worked 14 years in retail book sales in between attending two colleges and ending up ABD, and the only time I want to spend in bookstores these days is as a shopper for gifts for others. When I want to know what’s new that’s worth my time, I’ll visit Black Gate for expert advice and sterling recommendations.