Hot Best Seller

The Body Scout

Availability: Ready to download

Diamond-sharp and savagely wry, The Body Scout is a timely science fiction thriller debut set in an all-too-possible future, perfect for readers of William Gibson. Kobo has some problems. His cybernetics are a decade out of date, he's got a pair of twin sister loan sharks knocking on his door, and his work scouting for a baseball league run by pharmaceutical companies i Diamond-sharp and savagely wry, The Body Scout is a timely science fiction thriller debut set in an all-too-possible future, perfect for readers of William Gibson. Kobo has some problems. His cybernetics are a decade out of date, he's got a pair of twin sister loan sharks knocking on his door, and his work scouting for a baseball league run by pharmaceutical companies is about to go belly-up. Things couldn't get much worse. Then his childhood best friend-Monsanto Mets slugger J.J. Zunz-is murdered at home plate. Determined to find the killer, Kobo plunges into the dark corners and glittering cloud condos of a world ravaged by climate change and repeat pandemics, and where genetic editing and advanced drugs mean you can have any body you want--as long as you can afford it. But even among the philosophical Neanderthals, zootech weapons, and genetically modified CEOs, there's a curveball he never could have called.


Compare

Diamond-sharp and savagely wry, The Body Scout is a timely science fiction thriller debut set in an all-too-possible future, perfect for readers of William Gibson. Kobo has some problems. His cybernetics are a decade out of date, he's got a pair of twin sister loan sharks knocking on his door, and his work scouting for a baseball league run by pharmaceutical companies i Diamond-sharp and savagely wry, The Body Scout is a timely science fiction thriller debut set in an all-too-possible future, perfect for readers of William Gibson. Kobo has some problems. His cybernetics are a decade out of date, he's got a pair of twin sister loan sharks knocking on his door, and his work scouting for a baseball league run by pharmaceutical companies is about to go belly-up. Things couldn't get much worse. Then his childhood best friend-Monsanto Mets slugger J.J. Zunz-is murdered at home plate. Determined to find the killer, Kobo plunges into the dark corners and glittering cloud condos of a world ravaged by climate change and repeat pandemics, and where genetic editing and advanced drugs mean you can have any body you want--as long as you can afford it. But even among the philosophical Neanderthals, zootech weapons, and genetically modified CEOs, there's a curveball he never could have called.

30 review for The Body Scout

  1. 5 out of 5

    Roxane

    Michel is a great writer and thinker and I loved the premise of this novel. Very gritty. Lots of worldbuilding, maybe too much, but still it’s clear the author knows this world and has thought it through. Very strong characters—the central people were the best part of the novel. I wanted more of a story. The central mystery here isn’t that compelling. Probably because I don’t care about baseball. There are some interesting twists toward the end but there also strange inconsistencies. In the last Michel is a great writer and thinker and I loved the premise of this novel. Very gritty. Lots of worldbuilding, maybe too much, but still it’s clear the author knows this world and has thought it through. Very strong characters—the central people were the best part of the novel. I wanted more of a story. The central mystery here isn’t that compelling. Probably because I don’t care about baseball. There are some interesting twists toward the end but there also strange inconsistencies. In the last chapter the narrator says there are no buildings in town more than 12 feet high. A few pages later, there are no buildings in town more than two feet high. Is it two different towns? A consistency error? Anyway. If you like noir novels but set in the future or if you love baseball and dystopia this is well worth your time. There is some really smart thinking throughout. And wit.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Richard Derus

    I RECEIVED MY DRC FROM THE PUBLISHER VIA NETGALLEY. THANK YOU. My Review: First, read this: "We build better livers, and someone concocts stronger booze. We get sun treatments, then our chemicals burn up the ozone even more. Cure one disease, and another pops up. The pitcher juices up his throw, and the batter juices up his swing. On and on it goes." –and– “We’re all trapped in these forms, aren’t we? Our minds get poured into them without anyone even asking us. We grow and live in them, and yet in I RECEIVED MY DRC FROM THE PUBLISHER VIA NETGALLEY. THANK YOU. My Review: First, read this: "We build better livers, and someone concocts stronger booze. We get sun treatments, then our chemicals burn up the ozone even more. Cure one disease, and another pops up. The pitcher juices up his throw, and the batter juices up his swing. On and on it goes." –and– “We’re all trapped in these forms, aren’t we? Our minds get poured into them without anyone even asking us. We grow and live in them, and yet in many ways they are as incomprehensible to us as the cosmos.” –and– "We've got 'em all. Mammoth burgers, teriyaki tyrannosaurs wings, saber-toothed gyro platters. Those cocksuckers thought they could avoid being eaten by going extinct. Bunch of buffoons. Didn't count on human ingenuity. We can eat anything these days. Eat the past, present or future." The flavor of the writing is right there...wry, world-weary, ever so slightly facetious...and if that ain't your jam, baby, move along. Author Michel, whose story collection Upright Beasts earned praise from me, fails to shock me with his writing and planning chops. It's very clear why he offers writing advice for a living. What would happen if Gattaca and Moneyball had a bastard love-child? This book. From the off, I loved the choices Author Michel made. Baseball is my only organized sport love. Having the Mets (my team since the 1969 Miracle Mets defeated the BodyMore Inc....I mean Baltimore!...Orioles in the seventh game of the World Series) owned by Monsanto was, while revolting, not entirely unthinkable. Choosing baseball for the body-modding corporate shills to play made perfect sense because there's so much more to work with in the prowess-enhancement department. Baseball players are required to specialize in this day and age...don't get me started about the designated-hitter rule!...and yet by the very nature of the game there is a constellation of skills they still need to possess to some degree, like running and fielding the ball. The development of modifying tech, driven by the need/want of the Big Pharma owners, gets laid right at present-day capitalism's (and its political stooge class's) door, as the present-day pandemic accelerated the mad dash for corporate ownership of everything into sports. It's not at all unlikely, given that corporations own teams in Japan.... But the fact that the world Kobo Zunz lives in, the one that allows him to modify his body to an absurd degree despite having become a talent scout thus no longer playing baseball, is chock-a-block with delightfully pointed choices embodied in other characters: Dolores ("sorrows" or "pains") is Kobo's friend/kinda-ex, a Deaf person who elected not to restore her hearing but to enhance her sight (GoogleGlasses-esque modifications to one eye that present speech translated into ASL); Natasha the Neanderthal, the Big Pharma enforcing muscle and that's not a nickname but a descriptive label as she's of the genetically engineered re-introduced Neanderthals; Lila, the Angry Young Girl who, like Greta Thunberg, is outraged into incandescence at the gigantic mess her elders are leaving for her to clean up. I love that, when Kobo the expert at foreseeing trends in body modification (always ask an addict to get an accurate vision of the addiction's course) is summoned to solve the gruesome and very public murder of his adopted brother, Monsanto Mets batting (aka "slugging") star JJ Zunz, it's by a manager whose only name is "the Mouth." Ha! Kobo's debts incurred in body modding will be paid in full...if he pins the very public, obviously message-sending murder on a particular rival team. That will get the scary, violent loansharks who have been funding his biomechanical enhancement addiction, Brenda and Wanda, off his terrifying-nightmares list. So what am I saying about this read? Much delighted me, mentioned above. There are things that didn't delight me near so much. The length of the story, for example, would support more exploration of side characters who got little (JJ's mother, who adopted Kobo). But in all honesty I'd've been much happier if some of the amazing ideas and snarky asides had been held in RAM for a sequel, leaving a fizzier and more propulsive through-line. It's not like it's a slow read, or wasn't for me; it's just densely packed with irresistible shiny baubles and it could've been told in less time and at a more spanking pace. I presume this is not the start of a series because the publishers would've trumpeted that fact if it had been. If Author Michel chooses to make it into a series, which I really hope he will, quite a lot of the underexplored material will be very expandable. What isn't expandable is the ending. A very weird change of tone takes place as we're coming in for our landing. It becomes...sweet. Kind of sentimental. This felt so very wrong to me, like Philip Marlowe got a hit of some opiods and turned into Ted Lasso. What I will say is that you're going to love The Body Scout if you loved George Alec Effinger's Marîd Audran books, or the early William Gibson. I did; I do; and all cavils aside, I'd encourage any baseball fans, bleak/noir fiction lovers, and anti-capitalists to hop on board. A few bumps on the journey shouldn't detract from the way-cool scenery.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    The Body Scout is a scifi/noir tale following Kobo,who is a former baseball player turned scout investigating the murder of his best friend JJ Sunz, who dies suddenly in the middle of a game. This book was a very fun read with great world building and suspense. This to me is more plot driven, but the characters are fleshed out well enough to get a good sense of who they are. The pacing is excellent and leaves the reader wanting to see what happens next. The baseball element of the story is well The Body Scout is a scifi/noir tale following Kobo,who is a former baseball player turned scout investigating the murder of his best friend JJ Sunz, who dies suddenly in the middle of a game. This book was a very fun read with great world building and suspense. This to me is more plot driven, but the characters are fleshed out well enough to get a good sense of who they are. The pacing is excellent and leaves the reader wanting to see what happens next. The baseball element of the story is well done as well. There's a whole lot of baseball here, so if that's not your thing, it may turn you off of the story. If you enjoy a good gritty scifi book and baseball, then this is for you! Thank you to OrbitBooks, author Lincoln Michel, and NetGalley for gifting me a digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mogsy (MMOGC)

    4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2021/11/08/... I’m always trying to read more cyberpunk, which can be a problem sometimes because the genre doesn’t always agree with me. Most of what we think of as more traditional cyberpunk tends to on the darker side and too bleak for my tastes, or the technological aspects might be far too complex and overwhelming for me to handle. So you can imagine what a pleasant surprise it was when I came across Lincoln Michel’s The Body Scout, 4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2021/11/08/... I’m always trying to read more cyberpunk, which can be a problem sometimes because the genre doesn’t always agree with me. Most of what we think of as more traditional cyberpunk tends to on the darker side and too bleak for my tastes, or the technological aspects might be far too complex and overwhelming for me to handle. So you can imagine what a pleasant surprise it was when I came across Lincoln Michel’s The Body Scout, and found a perfect balance of cyberpunk noir, futuristic sci-fi, and easy, wonderful readability. As you’d expect, the world of The Body Scout is one where its citizens prize cybernetics and other body modifications, and the use of such enhancements has changed virtually every aspect of human life, including sports. Our protagonist Kobo is a talent scout for the professional baseball league, now controlled by the pharmaceutical companies, making his living traveling around the world recruiting new people for his bosses and hunting for the latest mods to improve performance. A former bionic athlete himself, Kobo used to play for the now defunct Cyber League but is now strapped with huge amounts of debt while trying to make ends meet in a cutthroat industry. Meanwhile though, his best friend and adoptive brother Zunz is making a name for himself as a rising star playing professionally for the Monsanta Mets, and Kobo couldn’t be prouder and happier for him. But then one day, in the middle of a playoff game in front of millions watching, Zunz suddenly drops dead on the field. Everyone is calling it a tragic accident, pointing to either a mysterious illness or some other issue related to his mods. However, Kobo isn’t buying it. He suspects it may be murder, and the plot thickens as he is next hired by the owner of the Monsanto Mets to investigate Zunz’s death, with the promise of a large reward if he can somehow implicate the team’s rivals. Seizing this opportunity to seek answers to his own questions, Kobo begins his twisted journey into the dark and unforgiving world of sports and corporate politics where everyone has a stake. First of all, I was pretty impressed that The Body Scout is a debut. This novel was very well put together, with intriguing characters and a compulsive storyline. The premise behind the mystery plot was established fairly early, which proved to be an excellent decision by the author as the bombshell of Zunz’s death pretty much set the tone and pace for the rest of the book, which was quick and punchy. Thing is, I couldn’t even give a crap about baseball, yet I was drawn completely into this story which says a lot about Michel’s writing. For one, it was fascinating the way cybernetics and enhancements were married into the world of sports, and I found all those ideas refreshing and unique in spite of their esoteric nature. Plus, everyone knows I love a good whodunit. Of course, cyberpunk and crime noir often go hand in hand, but also it takes something special to create an engaging mystery, and The Body Scout has it. Nothing is what it seems, and as we follow Kobo into his strange and unfamiliar world, I was glad that the narrative kept us focused on the key elements while others may have been tempted to go offtrack exploring other facets of the world. God knows there were enough distractions with the near-future setting, the population’s obsession with the staggering variety of technological enhancements, or even all that potential material when it came to baseball. Oh yeah, and there were Neanderthals, which have been brought back through cloning. The point is though, Michel always brought the attention back to what was important—our protagonist’s motivation to find who killed his beloved friend and brother. I think it was this point that brought something very personal and relatable to the mix. It’s something a lot of cyberpunk books lack, I find, which is this nice warm message about found families and powerful friendships. Sure, things didn’t ultimately turn out too well for our protagonist and his brother, but Kobo’s reactions went on to make him extremely sympathetic to me. Flashbacks to his childhood, brief as they were, of playing with Zunz in the bleak spaces beneath the flooded city of New York were some of my favorites because they somehow made the baseball star’s death even more egregious and horrifying. After all, someone had robbed that boy in his memories of his big dream, and Kobo isn’t going to rest until he finds out why. His long lists of flaws aside, I definitely liked him initially because of his devotion and tenacity, and eventually, it became more about the way the investigation changes him. So, if you’re hankering for something cyberpunky that’s also accessible and won’t overwhelm you too much with bleakness and sci-fi lingo, look no further—The Body Scout is what you need. While I can see how the heavy focus on baseball might be off-putting to some, I think the story’s unique premise is what will come out on top, not to mention the plot moves so fast you probably won’t even notice. Overall, simply a brilliant and enjoyable debut from Lincoln Michel, with strong characterization and superb storytelling.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bandit

    I was craving a science fiction novel to balance my reading diet. This one seemed intriguing, but there was…baseball. Crap. Even for someone like me who doesn’t care for competitive sports, baseball is still at the bottom of every list. Just a weird, weird, inexplicably popular game. So much so that it has been dragged all the way into the future, albeit somewhat tweaked. Actually the game itself hasn’t changed much, the players have. Much like the rest of the world in this disturbingly imagina I was craving a science fiction novel to balance my reading diet. This one seemed intriguing, but there was…baseball. Crap. Even for someone like me who doesn’t care for competitive sports, baseball is still at the bottom of every list. Just a weird, weird, inexplicably popular game. So much so that it has been dragged all the way into the future, albeit somewhat tweaked. Actually the game itself hasn’t changed much, the players have. Much like the rest of the world in this disturbingly imaginative future, (almost) everyone has gone mad for body modifications and alterations. The tech has finally gotten to the place where the original body plan is a mere suggestion and people are suping themselves up and tweaking themselves out as much as they can, imagination and money being the only limits. And, of course, for athletes who have been enhancing themselves up for ages anyway, this is positively de rigueur. So that Kobo, our protagonist and self improvement junkie, isn’t really surprised when his adopted brother, a professional baseball player, calls him up out of the blue seemingly all messed up. But he is surprised when this brother turns up dead. And upset. Which, along with the promise of much needed funds, is a sufficient motivation for Kobo to investigate this murder when he is hired to do so by the league’s owner. So this is a murder investigation thriller. Done by an ambitious amateur. In a world where the truth much like people is almost infinitely malleable. And for all the technological and scientific advantages that have been made, some fundamental facts about people, greed, ambition, arrogance, etc. remain same as they ever were. What Kobo stumbles into is essentially the next step in the evolution or devolution of the species, a journey as dangerous and terrifying for him as it is exciting for the readers. This futuristic (potentially cyberpunk?) adventure was a pretty fun read and a most impressive debut for the author. Dynamic pacing, awesome world building and all around good writing, especially when it comes to characters, who came out as complex psychologically as they are biotechnologically. Granted, for me it was all about genetics gone wild and not at all about baseball, but overall surprisingly readable for a sportscentric story. So, if like me, you don’t care about grown men in silly outfits chasing a ball in accordance to seemingly arbitrary rules for insane amounts of money, you can still enjoy this book. I’d imagine most science fiction fans would. Recommended. Thanks Netgalley. This and more at https://advancetheplot.weebly.com/

  6. 4 out of 5

    Todd

    I won a copy of The Body Scout through a goodreads giveaway. I don’t know much about baseball but that didn’t stop me enjoying this story. It’s a future where there’s lots of body modification, both physically and chemically, where you no longer have to deal with the constraints of a normal human body, provided you can afford the upgrades. Kobo is a baseball scout falling on hard times, deep in debt for his own body modifications from when he used to play baseball before the cybernetic mods were I won a copy of The Body Scout through a goodreads giveaway. I don’t know much about baseball but that didn’t stop me enjoying this story. It’s a future where there’s lots of body modification, both physically and chemically, where you no longer have to deal with the constraints of a normal human body, provided you can afford the upgrades. Kobo is a baseball scout falling on hard times, deep in debt for his own body modifications from when he used to play baseball before the cybernetic mods were banned. Then his brother, from the family that adopted him when he was young, dies horrifically on the field and on camera, and he’s convinced it was murder. Now he’s trying to find who did it and why, and he’s also been hired by the company his brother worked for to do the same. A fascinating mystery set in an interesting if sometimes sickening future, extrapolated from today, with everything being about money and profit and companies and governments corrupt and completely unaccountable to people and society. It was also, in many ways, a book about family and what that means, from biological to adopted families, from found families to budding relationships, and the different meanings different folks put on all these. This was certainly not a future I’d want any part of, but I thoroughly enjoyed the story. Though completely different it did sometimes bring to mind Market Forces by Richard K. Morgan. They both featured a depressing and dreary future full of a constant drive for profit, with imperfect characters striving to survive.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    3.5 stars The Body Scout is an interesting novel, and its synopsis is what made me request it on NetGalley. I love any kind of science fiction thriller with a dystopian future and corporate-owned identities. Watching people fight back against the corporation will forever be one of the classic parts of science fiction. The Body Scout is no different, and the way it intertwines corporations into baseball was a great idea. Being a biology major, I love anything genetic or biology based in stories. Th 3.5 stars The Body Scout is an interesting novel, and its synopsis is what made me request it on NetGalley. I love any kind of science fiction thriller with a dystopian future and corporate-owned identities. Watching people fight back against the corporation will forever be one of the classic parts of science fiction. The Body Scout is no different, and the way it intertwines corporations into baseball was a great idea. Being a biology major, I love anything genetic or biology based in stories. The premise of this book was pretty fun, having baseball players be subjected to genetic alterations and drug testing in order to play better. The major drug companies now own the baseball teams. What I didn't care for was the baseball. I'm not going to give this book a "bad rating" because I knew it was about baseball going in. The baseball really isn't the forefront of the story either, so if you're concerned about not knowing anything about the sport, don't worry. If it's something really to be explained, Michel explains it. I did have a hard time connecting to the characters because they were so passionate about something I really couldn't care less about. The passion with the author, though, helped raise my rating. It was also pretty funny seeing the baseball teams names, such as the Monsanto Mets. Thank you to Net Galley, Orbit Books, and Lincoln Michel for this advanced review copy! The Body Scout releases on September 21st.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Meghan (TheBookGoblin)

    ARC received in exchange for an honest review This is the best Sci-Fi I've read in a long time. The Body Scout is smart, funny and weird and I loved every second. Kind of a techno-thriller of Crichton-esque proportions; a mix of Snow Crash, Repo: The Genetic Opera and Moneyball. The entirety of the world is run by mega biotech corporations and anything and everything is branded. Anyone can be anything if they have the cash. Awesome things: 1. Transgender and non-binary individuals normalized! 2. Spo ARC received in exchange for an honest review This is the best Sci-Fi I've read in a long time. The Body Scout is smart, funny and weird and I loved every second. Kind of a techno-thriller of Crichton-esque proportions; a mix of Snow Crash, Repo: The Genetic Opera and Moneyball. The entirety of the world is run by mega biotech corporations and anything and everything is branded. Anyone can be anything if they have the cash. Awesome things: 1. Transgender and non-binary individuals normalized! 2. Sports teams are all mixed-gender. 3. Highly realistic projection of the future both technologically and politically. Not so awesome things: 1. Transitioning (genders) is portrayed as more of a strategic career move than as a natural step to becoming oneself. 2. The "highly realistic projection" I mentioned is bleak as fuck. Rampant racism and classism, corporate monopolies and toxic capitalism are the norm. Some dope quotes: "America had always been like that. Coke or Pepsi. Republican or Democrat. Monsanto or Pyramid. You were expected to pick a side and then scream like hell." "We've got 'em all. Mammoth burgers, teriyaki tyrannosaurs wings, saber-toothed gyro platters. Those cocksuckers thought they could avoid being eaten by going extinct. Bunch of bufoons. Didn't count on human ingenuity. We can eat anything these days. Eat the past, present or future." I highly recommend this not just for Sci-Fi fans but anyone who wants a fun ride through an all-too near future. Thank you to NetGalley for the chance to R&R

  9. 4 out of 5

    Tammy

    The nitty-gritty: Cyberpunk noir and baseball collide in this fast-paced, thoroughly entertaining sci-fi mystery. Is science fiction kicking ass this year, or am I just choosing the right books to read? Either way, I keep discovering amazing new SF authors, and I’ve just added Lincoln Michel to that list. The Body Scout was so much fun and so well written, and it’s one of those stories that I hated to see end. It's an intriguing murder mystery set far in a future where body upgrades are the norm, The nitty-gritty: Cyberpunk noir and baseball collide in this fast-paced, thoroughly entertaining sci-fi mystery. Is science fiction kicking ass this year, or am I just choosing the right books to read? Either way, I keep discovering amazing new SF authors, and I’ve just added Lincoln Michel to that list. The Body Scout was so much fun and so well written, and it’s one of those stories that I hated to see end. It's an intriguing murder mystery set far in a future where body upgrades are the norm, animals are extinct, and baseball teams are owned by big pharma companies. If you’re a fan of Dan Stout’s The Carter Archives, you’ll probably love this, because it’s got a similar punchy noir vibe. Kobo is a biopharm scout living in New York, paid to find cutting edge scientists to work for the companies who develop the latest drugs and treatments for the nation’s top baseball stars. Kobo himself used to play in the Cyber League, until it went under, that is. Now he’s obsessed with improving his own body by taking out loans for various surgeries and body part replacements, but his jobs are drying up and he’s in debt for hundreds of thousands of dollars to Sunny Day Healthcare Loans. Kobo’s adoptive brother Julio Julio “JJ” Zunz is the star player for the Monsanto Mets, but one day Kobo is watching a game in a bar when Zunz drops dead at the plate, his death caught on camera for the world to see. Monsanto is calling it a tragedy, but Kobo thinks his friend was murdered. Kobo is shocked when the Mouth—the CEO of the Monsanto Mets—hires him to investigate Zunz’s death, promising to erase all his debt if he can pin the responsibility on the Mets rival team, the Pyramid Pharmaceuticals Sphinxes. But once Kobo starts digging into Zunz’s last days, he discovers a tangled mystery involving a rival baseball team, a mad doctor, and illegal cloning. With help from his deaf ex-lover Dolores and a precocious twelve-year-old Edenist named Lila, Kobo must figure out who is responsible for Zunz’s murder, avoid a pair of nasty loan sharks named Brenda and Wanda, and delve into the secrets of the Janus Club and how it might relate to Zunz’s demise, all before the end of the World Series. I really had fun with Lincoln Michel’s world. Like many SF books these days, the future is pretty bleak. Climate change has decimated the animal world and now odd creatures called “zootech” are made in laboratories. Advanced methods of replacing lost body parts and internal organs have become big business, and most people have at least one upgrade. And best of all, big league baseball teams are now owned by pharmaceutical companies who compete for championships by developing the best drugs to keep their players in top form. I loved the team names, like the Monsanto Mets, or the BodyMore Inc. Orioles. When Kobo played for the Cyber League, he was with the Boston Red Sockets. I mean, how can you not love that?? The combination of futuristic tech and baseball was so refreshing, and I’m not even a sports fan! You can tell Michel had fun creating his world, there are so many awesome futuristic touches. For example, Kobo’s friend Dolores is deaf, but instead of fixing that deafness with a medical procedure, she decides to upgrade her other senses instead—like her cybernetic eye. She wears a pair of goggles that somehow translate speech into sign language so she can “hear” and communicate with others. I’m not sure exactly how that worked but it was pretty cool! One of my other favorite elements was that advances in cloning technology have led to Neanderthals being integrated into society, and in this story they’re the muscle of the big pharma companies.  The main mystery—Kobo trying to figure out what happened to Zunz—is solid and well developed. I love that the Mouth has given Kobo a limited amount of time to solve the mystery, which drives the pacing and keeps the story hopping along. Kobo’s path to the truth is anything but smooth, though, and Michel throws in plenty of twists and surprises, not to mention danger, because when you mess with the Monsanto Mets and their nefarious plans for the future, you’re risking not only your neck but all your other body parts. As much as I loved the worldbuilding and the plot, though, it was the characters who really won me over. The story is told in first person from Kobo’s point of view, so the reader really gets to know him and understand his motivations. Kobo lost an arm as a child when his apartment building collapsed, and now he has a cybernetic arm that he’s quite proud of. Unfortunately, he’s also addicted to body upgrades and keeps a running list of the improvements he’s determined to get one day, just as soon as he can pay off his current loan. Kobo goes through a lot in this book: getting beat up, trying to avoid loan sharks, and much more, but his loyalty to Zunz carries him through it all, as he’s determined to get justice for his death. Then we have two of my other favorite characters, Dolores and Lila. Dolores is a scout for a rival baseball team, but she and Kobo still hang out together every now and then. Dolores was such a great character: smart and funny but also tough as nails and much more interested in keeping her job than helping Kobo. I loved that Michel made her deaf but gave her the tech to overcome that challenge. Lila, or “Nails” as she’s called by her fellow Edenists, is an angry twelve-year-old with a big secret that changes the course of the story, and I fell in love with her smartass personality. Michel’s dialog is so good, even the more unsavory characters, like Natasha the Neanderthal or the Mouth come across as entertaining.  The author adds a nice layer of nostalgia to his tale, evoking the joys of childhood baseball, the good old days before big pharma swept in and changed the game. Michel sets his story in New York, and his love for the city shines through as well. Some weird shit happens near the end that turned the story into a sort of mad caper, and there are plenty of really well done action scenes--one memorable one takes place in Kobo's apartment. The story ends on a feel-good note, with just about everything resolved. And yet I feel like maybe there’s more to the story. The Body Scout isn’t listed as the start to a series, but it could easily become one, or maybe that’s just wishful thinking on my part. Baseball fans will certainly find a lot to love here, but even if you aren’t a sports fanatic, you’ll probably love Lincoln Michel’s gritty future and prickly but loveable characters.  Big thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Malcolm Everett

    “But that’s the rub of modern life. We build better livers, and someone concocts stronger booze. We get sun treatments, then our chemicals burn up the ozone even more. Cure one disease, and another pops up. The pitcher juices up his throw, and the batter juices up his swing. On and on it goes.” Kobo is a baseball scout—and former baseball star—who’s obsessed with body upgrades, so much so that he goes into impossible debt to get the latest limbs and organs. But when his famous brother literally e “But that’s the rub of modern life. We build better livers, and someone concocts stronger booze. We get sun treatments, then our chemicals burn up the ozone even more. Cure one disease, and another pops up. The pitcher juices up his throw, and the batter juices up his swing. On and on it goes.” Kobo is a baseball scout—and former baseball star—who’s obsessed with body upgrades, so much so that he goes into impossible debt to get the latest limbs and organs. But when his famous brother literally explodes while playing for the Monsanto Mets, Kobo is hired by the team’s owner to find out who killed him and get his medical debt paid off in the bargain. It’s a wild journey across a grungy, ugly cyberpunk future that corporations and the wealthy present as a utopia (wait a minute, that sounds a bit close to home…). In a near-future United States, we see how climate change has wreaked havoc and widened class divides. Capitalism rots the core of every industry, especially with the corporatization of baseball teams by bio-upgrade companies striving to sell their next product to the eager public. Every new technology manages to further corrupt the wealthy and squash the poor. The whole book is a gallery of the grotesque with vivid descriptions of living sculptures made of real flesh, strange lab-created animals, and sex that doesn’t involve one’s own body parts. Really, it’s sci-fi blended with body horror, which aligns with the novel’s exploration of how we live in our bodies and how our bodies could become the next “luxury product.” As one of the characters says: “We’re all trapped in these forms, aren’t we? Our minds get poured into them without anyone even asking us. We grow and live in them, and yet in many ways they are as incomprehensible to us as the cosmos.” Kobo is a standard noir protagonist with his pessimistic viewpoint and wry first-person voice, but what differentiates him is his obsession with body upgrades that lend an interesting depth to his character. He’s complicit in the system and addicted to its promises of fulfillment while still being frustrated with it, a feeling most of us know all too well. I loved Dolores as a secondary character who goes beyond just a supporting role/love interest and the Mouth as an over-the-top (but, uh, rather familiar) corporate idiot. All of the secondary characters have agency and want to accomplish their own goals beyond those of the protagonist. On a plot level, The Body Scout is a well-written homage to pulpy noir detective novels. It plays with the usual plot beats, character archetypes, and twists that you’d see in a murder mystery, just in an even darker futuristic setting (sci-fi and noir are bedfellows, after all, as Blade Runner shows). Sometimes the author is a little too in love with the world-building details, but I still found those asides entertaining, and you can tell he had fun creating and anticipating how every aspect of society might change. I especially appreciated representation of different gender identities and able-bodiedness, since those aspects aren’t often addressed in science fiction when it comes to new technologies. Like any noir novel worth its salt, the story provides social critique that’s relevant to our current lifestyles. The characters’ indifferent acceptance of the way the world works—where everyone is driven by profit—was painfully familiar. I fear that there is no happy future for humanity, and that as in the novel, we will leave environmental disasters to be a problem for the next generation, and the systemic culprits of crimes will always get off scot-free. In that sense, the story’s ending is depressing to think about but ultimately realistic, and there’s validation in finding that honesty in fiction. The nihilism of the final image worked perfectly. I requested the ARC of this book from NetGalley because I’m a big fan of Lincoln Michel’s writing newsletter Counter Craft. I was happy to find that The Body Scout embodies (sorrynotsorry) the literary/genre blend he often writes about in his essays. This novel is carefully constructed on both a plot and line level, and I hope to read more from Michel in the future.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Set in a time when corporate pharmaceuticals run Future League Baseball, The Body Scout follows Kobo, whose job as a scout is to recruit scientists and occasionally a promising baseball player. America's favorite pastime is still prevalent in the future but with one minor change: the players are walking advertisements for the latest body enhancements. After watching his adopted brother, JJ, drop-dead mysteriously on home plate, Kobo is hired by the owner of Monsanto Mets to find out the culprit Set in a time when corporate pharmaceuticals run Future League Baseball, The Body Scout follows Kobo, whose job as a scout is to recruit scientists and occasionally a promising baseball player. America's favorite pastime is still prevalent in the future but with one minor change: the players are walking advertisements for the latest body enhancements. After watching his adopted brother, JJ, drop-dead mysteriously on home plate, Kobo is hired by the owner of Monsanto Mets to find out the culprit before the end of the World Series. Motivated to unravel the truth and possibly get a new upgrade out of it, Kobo soon finds that the death of his brother isn't the only strange thing happening within the FLB. I'll admit that I had my concerns when I first started this book. I don't care for baseball. Like not even a little bit. The synopsis tells the reader that the MC is a scout for a baseball team. I thought that's where it would end, and I was very, very wrong. Baseball is woven into the plot thickly. And you know what? I fucking loved it. Not enough to get me to watch a baseball game but enough to buy Michel's future work in a heartbeat. The worldbuilding is top-notch. A few reviews have mentioned it distracts from the plot. Don't listen to these people. If anything, the extensive worldbuilding sets this who-dun-it plot apart from others within the genre. There were several twists and turns that I didn't see coming. Not to mention, the pacing is dynamic. There wasn’t a single moment of boring information dumps, lulled conversation, or pointless flashbacks. Everything was purposeful and blended with the main plot effortlessly. Outside of the storyline, I loved the small touches that brought this world to life. Anesthesia cigarettes, enhanced goggles for the deaf to read lips, interchangeable crotch upgrades, neanderthal clones, out-of-body experiences, the Edenists: a faction that shuns enhancements, and engineered animals called Zootech. I could easily read another story set in this world. I highly recommend this book for fans of: noirs, mystery/thrillers, science fiction, body modifications, cli-fi, futuristic NYC, cyberpunk, baseball, society vs. corporations, and flawed characters.

  12. 5 out of 5

    idiomatic

    you know a noir text understands philip marlowe as a source when the hero (view spoiler)[unscrews his own dick and leaves it on the table (hide spoiler)] you know a noir text understands philip marlowe as a source when the hero (view spoiler)[unscrews his own dick and leaves it on the table (hide spoiler)]

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    https://www.bookwormblues.net/2021/08... I absolutely love near future and social SciFi. It’s a genre I don’t read enough of, and it’s one that, if done well, will really leave me thinking some deep thoughts for a long time after I read the book. I adore the genre. I really do. So, the other day when I was flitting through Netgalley to see if anyone had anything on the offer that looked interesting, I saw this book and jumped on it. I will be honest, though. I almost bounced off this book pretty https://www.bookwormblues.net/2021/08... I absolutely love near future and social SciFi. It’s a genre I don’t read enough of, and it’s one that, if done well, will really leave me thinking some deep thoughts for a long time after I read the book. I adore the genre. I really do. So, the other day when I was flitting through Netgalley to see if anyone had anything on the offer that looked interesting, I saw this book and jumped on it. I will be honest, though. I almost bounced off this book pretty hard when I just started reading it. The reason being, there’s a lot of baseball, and I think baseball is about as interesting as watching paint dry (I’m sorry, don’t throw things at me) so yeah. However, I have a feeling my threshold for interest in sports is abnormally low, so don’t let that deter you. Just be aware. If you don’t like reading about sports, aspects of this book might be something you need to power through. That being said, the plot quickly takes off and things get moving in a whole bunch of different directions. At times, the worldbuilding was a bit overwhelming, and I think some readers could get a bit lost in the rapid fire details, but I actually liked that aspect of the book. I loved how much thought and attention the author put into just about every aspect of the world, the evolving culture, the relationships and more. This is a book that obviously took a lot of careful thought to write, and that paid off with a fascinating story set in a world that is similar enough to ours to be believable. It did the thing I love these sorts of books for: It made me think. In this near-future world, body modifications are the hot thing. The body you are born with is more a suggestion than anything else, and people pay good money to modify and upgrade themselves. They go in debt for body modifications. They hire people to hunt for the right body modification. Sometimes modifications become outdated. It’s a whole thriving, wild industry and it’s the core of this book. Baseball comes into this because while the game is the same as the we know now, the players have changed. They’ve modified their bodies for improved performance, and our protagonist, Kobo, has his finger on the pulse on the modification market. He gets called by his professional athlete brother, who is a bit out of sorts, seems off, and Kobo isn’t that surprised. Sometimes this sort of thing can happen with mods. However, Kobo is surprised when his brother ends up dead. The League hires him to investigate his brother’s death, and we go down a Who Done It rabbit hole that had some impressive twists and turns. The plot is pretty relentless. It doesn’t take much time to get to the mystery at the center of this book, and then it takes even less time to realize that not everything is as it seems. In this future vision of our world, evolution is guided by humans, and there’s a lot of deep, dark secrets into just how things are progressing on that front. So while Kobo’s investigation is interesting, it was really the world itself that almost gripped me more than anything else, and the social and personal problems that ensued from a future where humanity is so dramatically focused on modifications for personal improvement. The Body Scout is pretty relentlessly paced. There’s never really any downtime, which reminded me a lot of some noir books I’ve read, where no one really has time to rest. It’s constantly one thing, then another, then another. Things are just constantly moving, which keeps it interesting, but perhaps I would have longed for some quiet moments occasionally. Some pauses in the motion to give both Kobo and the reader time to breathe and really digest the story a bit more. Kobo was a character that I instantly liked. He’s flawed, self-absorbed, and focused on surgeries and modifying his own body with very little regard to the debt he finds himself in. However, as the book progresses, Kobo grows and evolves. He’s not the same man at the end as he was at the beginning. He starts to feel some empathy. He starts to look at the world a bit differently. Still flawed to his core, I found his personal arc, how the events he was enmeshed in changed him, to be rather fascinating and extremely well done. I will say, baseball stays a theme throughout this book, and I did detach from that part of it because… baseball… but that’s my personal flavor and that’s not the author’s problem. I will also say that this was an absolutely wonderful debut offering. It was wild, and unexpected, with some of the best near-future worldbuilding I’ve seen in a long time. The plot was intricate, and the author’s attention to detail truly floored me. So, if you’re a fan of near-future SciFi, and you don’t mind baseball, you’ll probably want to check this one out.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kath ❅

    3.5 stars but really a pretty good debut. Thanks to NetGally for the ARC for this. I found this by just randomly looking through netgally for some sci-fi books so I really did not know much about this book going in. This is basically a book imagining what the world might look like given the progression of current technology, capitalism, commercialism, climate change, etc. etc. Kobo is a scout for futuristic baseball teams which are now all owned by big pharma companies and his brother, a profess 3.5 stars but really a pretty good debut. Thanks to NetGally for the ARC for this. I found this by just randomly looking through netgally for some sci-fi books so I really did not know much about this book going in. This is basically a book imagining what the world might look like given the progression of current technology, capitalism, commercialism, climate change, etc. etc. Kobo is a scout for futuristic baseball teams which are now all owned by big pharma companies and his brother, a professional baseball player, is killed while playing a baseball game. Some it felt very realistic (like there's a quote about how people started rooting for pharma companies after they brought sports back after a pandemic and Pfizer is specifically mentioned...) and some of it felt less so but the whole story was at the least very interesting. The world building is definitely the highlight in this book. It's clear that Michel spent a lot of time developing this part of his story. You can tell while reading that there could be a lot more of the world building put in this book if the author chose to do that. It makes the story feel a lot more developed because of the level of thought put into the world. Again, sometimes it felt like the future being imagined bordered on caricature or satire but when it worked I thought it really worked. The issue I would say about the world building was sometimes it dominated the book a little too much. This is a mystery story but I felt that a bit of the mystery gets lost in the descriptions of everything else that was happening. I was okay with how the mystery resolved, though I definitely had some issues but along the way I never felt like I ever had an opportunity to figure anything out. Sometimes the pace of the mystery slowed to a crawl while other times it felt very fast. I just never got a sense of the stakes of the mystery itself outside of it's relationship to Kobo paying off his medical debt. I really just felt like the impact of that story got buried by everything else. The other thing I felt got lost a bit was characterization. I did like the character of Kobo and one other character that shows up later but everyone else felt so tangential. I felt like I knew nothing about Kobo's sort of girlfriend Dolores besides that she was Deaf and another scout, Kobo's cop friend was really underdeveloped, and even his brother, a main motivator of the story, felt more like he was just motivation rather than an actual character. A lot of those characters had important moments later on but because I didn't feel like I knew them at all, any twists they were involved in fell a bit flat. Like I said, I did like Kobo and as he's the main character that was enough to keep me going and invested in the story but I would have liked to see a bit more work on the side characters. I honestly think this book would be so improved if it was just tightened up in a few places and maybe one side character and one or two events from Kobo's past were just taken out so that the story could be more streamlined. I do think for a debut, this is good. There's a lot of interesting ideas here and I think if Michel publishes more novels, they will only get better from here. I think my best advice would be to take a few important elements of the world building and really focus in on those to create a more streamlined narrative. I liked the imagination of the future and as a baseball fan, I liked the baseball stuff. I'm definitely interested in seeing what this author does next as well as seeing other reactions to this book. If you're looking for a weirder sci-fi book, this might be great for you.

  15. 4 out of 5

    CHILTONM

    Thanks to NetGalley and Orbit for an ARC in exchange for an honest review (very late.... my bad.) The Body Scout, a cyberpunk body horror baseball neo-noir (yes, all those words are intentional!) follows Kubo, a scout and amateur detective, as he investigates the death of his brother on the playing field. The book's strongest concept, and luckily its focus, is on the parasitic relationship between corporate-sponsored athletic organizations and the players working within them, who straddle the lin Thanks to NetGalley and Orbit for an ARC in exchange for an honest review (very late.... my bad.) The Body Scout, a cyberpunk body horror baseball neo-noir (yes, all those words are intentional!) follows Kubo, a scout and amateur detective, as he investigates the death of his brother on the playing field. The book's strongest concept, and luckily its focus, is on the parasitic relationship between corporate-sponsored athletic organizations and the players working within them, who straddle the line between laborer and product, and whose bodies are a spectacle and commodity that extends beyond themselves. Kubo's background as a baseball hopeful adds some flavor to that dynamic, but Michel sticks too close to the chain-smoking, worn-out cynical detective archetype to have him really engage with the questions surrounding the sport (his brother, the star slugger and murder victim JJ Zunz, provides an often-more-interesting perspective, but he has unfortunately little screen time.) The setting is gaudy and neon, vivid but often overwrought, and Michel's most compelling ideas (an underground habitat for genetically modified pseudoanimals, for one) come and go fairly quickly. There's a lot of interesting stuff here, and Michel is a thrillingly imaginative writer, but it felt underserved by the noir format, and the abundance of surface-level cyberpunk flavor text meant that the key questions of the story -- of human nature, of the boundaries between man and machine, and of an ethical life under an unethical system -- often get lost. A great concept, buoyed by clever writing and a unique setting, but not quite enough to sink your teeth into.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Audrey H.

    I think the setting of The Body Scout could be an adaptation for an HBO series. This was so, so rich in its world-building and imagery - you can tell Michel has thought deeply about the quirks and qualities of this futuristic New York City ravaged by climate, plague and rampant body editing. As I read, I kept thinking of the movie Blade Runner 2049 and its visual effects. I also really like the characterization of the main lead. He's gritty and darkly complex, but still the traditional "good guy I think the setting of The Body Scout could be an adaptation for an HBO series. This was so, so rich in its world-building and imagery - you can tell Michel has thought deeply about the quirks and qualities of this futuristic New York City ravaged by climate, plague and rampant body editing. As I read, I kept thinking of the movie Blade Runner 2049 and its visual effects. I also really like the characterization of the main lead. He's gritty and darkly complex, but still the traditional "good guy" of the story. Where this book loses points is in the mystery that defines the entire plotline (as set out in the book blurb). It is kind of predictable, and not super engaging. There's no twist, and honestly not a lot of suspense. A better mystery could have hit this out of the park. 3.5 stars! I voluntarily obtained a digital version of this book free from Netgalley and Orbit Books in exchange for an honest review.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Monika

    The Body Scout is a cyberpunk-type fantasy horror story set in a near-future dystopian New York, where body modifications and genetic material mutation techniques are very prevalent among humans. The centre of all this is a baseball game backed by pharmaceutical companies. The author has created a world too similar to ours, steeped with corruption and that favours capitalism. The writing is sharp, witty and sarcastic at places that contributes to keep the reader’s attention! Yes its a weird stor The Body Scout is a cyberpunk-type fantasy horror story set in a near-future dystopian New York, where body modifications and genetic material mutation techniques are very prevalent among humans. The centre of all this is a baseball game backed by pharmaceutical companies. The author has created a world too similar to ours, steeped with corruption and that favours capitalism. The writing is sharp, witty and sarcastic at places that contributes to keep the reader’s attention! Yes its a weird story, but its brilliantly good. A must read for speculative fiction and dystopian lovers! I’m not a cyberpunk head, but I think you’ll enjoy this if you are one. Thank you Orbit books for the e-arc via Netgalley.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mitch Loflin

    I love the book. I love the book! I recommend this if you love having fun, I do not recommend this if you hate having fun, and I think whether you like baseball or not is ultimately not really a contributing factor to whether or not you'll like it. I do have some "ok but how come _____" follow-up questions about some of the ending, but the fact is I had such a good time so it doesn't really matter. I love the book. I love the book! I recommend this if you love having fun, I do not recommend this if you hate having fun, and I think whether you like baseball or not is ultimately not really a contributing factor to whether or not you'll like it. I do have some "ok but how come _____" follow-up questions about some of the ending, but the fact is I had such a good time so it doesn't really matter.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    I typically am not interested in science fiction, or sports novels, but this novel was compelling and had just enough noir to get me by. I loved the world and the characters, the way the author described different ways in which society changed in his world. The main character is a deadbeat who takes a beating throughout and something about the writing just keeps you going. I'd like to see a sequel sometime in the future to explore more of this brilliant world. I typically am not interested in science fiction, or sports novels, but this novel was compelling and had just enough noir to get me by. I loved the world and the characters, the way the author described different ways in which society changed in his world. The main character is a deadbeat who takes a beating throughout and something about the writing just keeps you going. I'd like to see a sequel sometime in the future to explore more of this brilliant world.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Claire Holroyde

    I loved this book. If you were drawn to the gritty future of noir detective Rick Deckard of DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRONIC SHEEP by Philip K. Dick, and the wry, anti-capitalist humor and sharp dialogue of SUPER SAD TRUE LOVE STORY by Gary Shteyngart, and the love of baseball shared by childhood friends many generations from now in THE RESISTORS by Gish Jen… Then you need to read THE BODY SCOUT by Lincoln Michel, my Fiction Recommendation for October

  21. 5 out of 5

    Adrian Young

    A wonderful cyberpunk neo-noir body horror mashup that is also weirdly about baseball? It's also extremely sharply written, with stunning light-touch world-building. A wonderful cyberpunk neo-noir body horror mashup that is also weirdly about baseball? It's also extremely sharply written, with stunning light-touch world-building.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jen Juenke

    The book synopsis really intrigued me. However, I had a hard time getting into the book. It was about baseball, body modificaiton, loan sharks, etc. It was a bit difficult to really immerse myself in. Then, Kobo finds Lila. That hooked me. As soon as Kobo links up with Lila, I could NOT put the book down. I was memorized by what would come next, what would happen, and the author did not disappoint. I loved the dogged determination of Kobo and his easy going, yet bird dog ways. His fierce devotion to The book synopsis really intrigued me. However, I had a hard time getting into the book. It was about baseball, body modificaiton, loan sharks, etc. It was a bit difficult to really immerse myself in. Then, Kobo finds Lila. That hooked me. As soon as Kobo links up with Lila, I could NOT put the book down. I was memorized by what would come next, what would happen, and the author did not disappoint. I loved the dogged determination of Kobo and his easy going, yet bird dog ways. His fierce devotion to his brother and his relationship with Lila. This is a great sci-fi thriller book. Thank you to Netgalley and to the publisher for allowing me this ARC in exchange for this honest review.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Edwin Howard

    Set in a future full of corporate and biological espionage, THE BODY SCOUT, by Lincoln Michel, follows Kobo, a struggling baseball scout and former baseball player himself who is obsessed with upgrading his own body with cybernetics whenever he can. Then he watches his baseball superstar brother, JJ Zunz, horrifically die at home plate in front of millions of viewers. Still reeling from the loss of his brother, he is recruited to investigate Zunz's death and finds himself deep in the underworld Set in a future full of corporate and biological espionage, THE BODY SCOUT, by Lincoln Michel, follows Kobo, a struggling baseball scout and former baseball player himself who is obsessed with upgrading his own body with cybernetics whenever he can. Then he watches his baseball superstar brother, JJ Zunz, horrifically die at home plate in front of millions of viewers. Still reeling from the loss of his brother, he is recruited to investigate Zunz's death and finds himself deep in the underworld of questionable medical practices and big business corruption. Michel has created a remarkably complex and fascinating world that is not just believable but a likely future for humanity. The amount of detail that Michel provides paints such a clear vision while keeping it as concise as possible so as not to slow the story down. The science of this world is interesting, sometimes a little icky, but always helpful in telling the story. Kobo, along with all of the the major supporting characters, are compelling to read about mostly because they all have unique imperfections that make them real, not just cardboard cutouts of people. And most all the them are selfish and opportunistic, which also make them more colorful and fun to read about. Some nice twists and unexpected revelations throughout the book, THE BODY SCOUT is several things: a sci-fi thriller, a corporate espionage mystery, and satire of where our world could end up. All of those things together makes for a great read! Thank you to Orbit Books, Lincoln Michel, and Netgalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Martha Steele

    A completely original story. I'm not a baseball fan or even a sports fan but you don't need to be in order to love this book. Many books that give us a peek at possible futures create a frightening picture of how badly wrong things could go. This is no exception. Corporate horror mixed with cloning and big sports? It totally works to show us an abstract work of art you can't stop admiring...maybe while covering half of your face in horror. I want a signed copy of this book because I know this au A completely original story. I'm not a baseball fan or even a sports fan but you don't need to be in order to love this book. Many books that give us a peek at possible futures create a frightening picture of how badly wrong things could go. This is no exception. Corporate horror mixed with cloning and big sports? It totally works to show us an abstract work of art you can't stop admiring...maybe while covering half of your face in horror. I want a signed copy of this book because I know this author is going to be collectable.

  25. 4 out of 5

    James Hoyle

    In this day and age, when advancing technology is quickly making science fiction science fact, it is quite refreshing to find a novel that knows exactly what it wants to be. A New York City ravaged by pandemics and climate change? Gene editing technology running rampant? Big pharma sponsoring sports clubs? Sign me up. The plot of Lincoln Michel’s latest work, The Body Scout, focuses on a man by the name of Kobo. He is a talent scout for a genetically modified New York Yankees baseball team in or In this day and age, when advancing technology is quickly making science fiction science fact, it is quite refreshing to find a novel that knows exactly what it wants to be. A New York City ravaged by pandemics and climate change? Gene editing technology running rampant? Big pharma sponsoring sports clubs? Sign me up. The plot of Lincoln Michel’s latest work, The Body Scout, focuses on a man by the name of Kobo. He is a talent scout for a genetically modified New York Yankees baseball team in order to pay off his six-figure medical debt. But when his brother, famous hitter J.J Zunz of the Monsanto Mets is found dead at home plate, Kobo, with the assistance of an old flame Dolores, must descend into a nightmare world of back-alley dealings, genetically modified CEOs, and existential Neanderthals, all to find out who murdered his brother, and why. Though Lincoln Michel has been published in short story anthologies and published his own short story collection, The Body Scout is his first full-length novel. Seldom does a writer make as strong a first impression as Michel does, especially when it comes to establishing a sense of place. At first, this novel gets by on its premise and setting alone. Michel does an excellent job of setting up this dystopian version of New York. It is at all times fantastical, horrifying, and believable, especially if one is aware of recent developments in the world of genetics. In this setting, time is money, genetic material is cheap, and the body has been commodified for profit in a most sinister way. As one of the doctors in the story puts it, “We build better livers, and someone concocts stronger booze. We get sun treatments, then our chemicals burn up the ozone even more. Cure one disease, and another pops up. The pitcher juices up his throw, and the batter juices up his swing. On and on it goes” (Michel 135-136). Just seeing how this world plays out from something as simple as baseball is quite an interesting twist on dystopian fiction. I would not mind in the slightest if Michel ever decided to return to the world he has created in sequels, even if we never see Kobo and his friends again. It would be a shame if he did not return to these characters, however. Kobo, Dolores, and everyone else mentioned in this are quite believable in their desires and needs. For instance, Kobo, having lost his arm in an accident as a child, becomes obsessed with having as perfect a body as he can. As he states, “We’re all born with one body, and there’s no possibility of a refund. No way to test-drive a different form. So how could anyone not be willing to pay an arm and a leg for a better arm and a better leg?” (Michel 2). That desire is relatable, and it makes his plight sympathetic as he tries to clear himself of the medical debt he has accrued in his failed attempts at achieving his idealized form. Other characters and their motivations are just as fleshed out and understandable. Even the hyper-religious sects that want to tear down the entire system of genetic modification because it is an affront to God and Nature have well-established and thought-out motivations behind their actions, and the motivations for many of these characters do change over time. It is fortunate that the setting is as enthralling as it is and the characters are as well thought-out as they are, because the actual plot is fairly pedestrian. Anyone familiar with detective fiction might find the plot basic and played out. What saves the story from being just a rehash of detective fiction cliché’s is the setting and the characters, allowing it to unfold in a way that feels fresh. Using baseball as a backdrop is unique, though I could see how that might be a problem for some readers. After all, not everyone likes baseball, and if a reader does not have at least a basic understanding of the game, they might get confused when Michel starts talking about errors and batting averages. The ending also feels rushed and sets up a somewhat happy and sentimental conclusion that clashes aesthetically with the rest of the story and feels wholly unearned by the characters. Michel also has a weird problem with the capitalization of the proper noun “God”. At first, I thought it was an artistic choice and that since Kobo is not a believer, he would not capitalize “God”. But even the aforementioned religious zealots who would capitalize “God” in their dialogue, do not. I do not know if this was a creative license, but when every other religious deity mentioned in the story is capitalized, it is a problem. It is a simple issue of capitalizing proper nouns, and hopefully, in a second printing, it gets fixed. Issues with proper nouns and a forced ending aside, for a first attempt at writing a novel, The Body Scout more than succeeds at what it sets out to do. It delivers fast-paced sci-fi action and intrigue in a believable and horrific cyberpunk dystopia with characters who are both relatable and interesting. Fans of Neal Stephenson’s novel Snow Crash or the film Gattaca should give this one a look. With any luck, we will see more of Michel in the future, as with this novel, he has become one of the strongest voices in modern cyberpunk.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Fraser Simons

    Kobo, down on his luck, scout for the Yankees baseball team—a mega corporation in competition with every other team—is having A Day. While scouting a talented scientist, a pair of Neanderthals working for the Mets, spike his drink, nab his mark, and to top it all off, he’s just seen his brother die live on television. He stuck a homer for the Mets, collapsed, and leaks grey matter, blood, and biotechnological juice on the field. To top it off, a pair of women working as muscle for the corporatio Kobo, down on his luck, scout for the Yankees baseball team—a mega corporation in competition with every other team—is having A Day. While scouting a talented scientist, a pair of Neanderthals working for the Mets, spike his drink, nab his mark, and to top it all off, he’s just seen his brother die live on television. He stuck a homer for the Mets, collapsed, and leaks grey matter, blood, and biotechnological juice on the field. To top it off, a pair of women working as muscle for the corporation that handles his medical loan to continue his addiction in upgrading his cybernetics and are also his landlord, pay him a very physical visit. And, oh yeah, he’s fired because he lost his mark. It’s pretty noir. Kobo isn’t exceptional or competent. He’s an Everyman, once a cyber boy ball player, before “oilers” like him—cybernetically enhanced people—were thrown off of teams in a move to biochemical enhancement. A return to a “natural” state of play again. He’s a middling scout. But he’s alone, trapped in nostalgia. Probably forever in debt until he’s dead. Then the Mets come calling, via the Neanderthal’s who robbed him of his prize, with an offer of essential becoming a P.I for them focusing on how and why his brother was ostensibly murdered. Neanderthals, by the way, is a biotechnology byproduct of scientists who used DNA located in fossils (ala Jurassic Park) to recreate pseudo Neanderthals, as they’re still born paired from a sapien egg and are completely outside of the time where they actually existed. He rekindles an old flame, Dolores, a scout for a completely different team, the Sphinxes, for help locating a lead, a ball player in that teams stable. He is also being tailed by a mysterious girl child, who looks familiar, but can’t figure out how or why. It’s a mystery that takes him all over the setting, interacting with a lot of different factions. Dolling out bite-sized worldbuilding as it becomes available. We also learn about Kobo’s past, both with Delores and his cyborg pitching days, his childhood with his brother, and more. Craft-wise, this is a bit above commercial fiction, and I think that’s on purpose. It’s accessible prose, not as much jargon as you’d typically find in a cyberpunk-biopunk affair, more inclusive, and subversive of genre. Rather than using orientalist aesthetics, it evokes a distinctly western lens with baseball as a game, but also as a brand and ethos of American culture. Its relevant to post-capitalistic concerns and a launching pad to discuss class stratification and loss of agency via advertising and the inevitability of new technologies being co-opted by capitalistic forces that colonize the body. Often without consideration of long term effects at any level. It’s also got a noir cadence but vacillated often between pretty gonzo plot beats and the more serious. Dialogue wise, it’s always learning toward natural and less serious, as Kobo is just not a serious person, usually. There’s some twists and turns, but if you go in expecting an (updated) cyberpunk book with noir trappings, you’re going to get those tropes and plot beats. It’s not unpredictable and it doesn’t imagine a solarpunk intersection with technology or the agency of a small group of individuals against post-capitalism and corporations. But it does have a lot to communicate otherwise, and it does what it wants to do, even when it’s pretty odd, quite well.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ray Sinclair

    This story of a baseball scout on the hunt for his brother’s killer in a dystopian future New York City is endlessly creative. There’s new forms of transportation, home gadgets, clothing, and (especially) biological developments – both plant and animal. The ways in which the human body is now augmented, reframed, remixed, enhanced, and otherwise juiced up are the central concern – especially super enhanced baseball players. Michel’s knives are out for the sins of big pharma, big baseball, and bi This story of a baseball scout on the hunt for his brother’s killer in a dystopian future New York City is endlessly creative. There’s new forms of transportation, home gadgets, clothing, and (especially) biological developments – both plant and animal. The ways in which the human body is now augmented, reframed, remixed, enhanced, and otherwise juiced up are the central concern – especially super enhanced baseball players. Michel’s knives are out for the sins of big pharma, big baseball, and big government, and they seem ever more nefarious as the hunt goes on. It’s that endlessly creative part that was the problem for me. My wife tells me that when she was a child she liked to pretend that Daniel Boone was her friend. She entertained him and herself by telling him about various modern conveniences and how they worked. The Body Scout reminded me of her game. Every page brings something newfangled, its description strategically lagging by a couple of graphs or even pages so we can wonder what zootech, astroclones, a Bleedr machine, an eraser (a narcotic cigarette), and dozens of other new things are just long enough to enjoy having whatever we haven’t figured out explained. It gets old, and plot, character, and point of it all suffer for the game. Even the tough guy, detectiveish, noir posturing of Kobo, the body scout, gets lost in tomorrow’s wizardry. The Body Scout is not so much a baseball book either. The game serves mostly as a convenient marker for the ills of body and mind-altering substances and appliances – here run amok in the hands of the rich and powerful. If you hate big pharma, all day-every day, this is for you.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sophia

    When I first requested The Body Scout by Lincoln Michel on NetGalley, I was expecting a pretty straightforward  whodunit murder-mystery with a bonus of a sci-fi world, I'm pleased to say that what I ended up getting was much more.       Set in a very bleak approximation of what our world will be like in the future, The Body Scout, follows baseball scout Kobo as he sets out to find out the truth behind his brother's- a very famous baseball player- death. The world this book is set in is gritty an When I first requested The Body Scout by Lincoln Michel on NetGalley, I was expecting a pretty straightforward  whodunit murder-mystery with a bonus of a sci-fi world, I'm pleased to say that what I ended up getting was much more.       Set in a very bleak approximation of what our world will be like in the future, The Body Scout, follows baseball scout Kobo as he sets out to find out the truth behind his brother's- a very famous baseball player- death. The world this book is set in is gritty and dark as it imagines what the future would be like if current issues such as corporate greed, climate change, and economic disparity are allowed to run rampant with no control. The environment has been all but destroyed to the point where wildlife is created in labs for the purpose of consumption or advertisement/entertainment, and the air is so toxic and disease ridden that the rich choose to live their lives indoors instead of risking illness outside. Through a series of pandemics, pharmaceutical companies have been able to gain power and take total control of the country, gaining wealth through the sale of cybernetic parts and biological "upgrades" and medication. Anything and everything that can be exploited, corrupted, and turned into a commodity has been- there is even a line in the book where a character mentions how The Museum of Natural History in Manhattan has been long since torn down and turned into an Amazon warehouse. The world is a corrupt and dirty and dark one where the rich and powerful prosper and grow while the poor are forced to live in the unsafe polluted leftovers of their "progress".       Kobo, our main character, is a prime example of a victim of this world- having purchased so many cybernetic upgrades that he can't afford that he is now millions in debt to loan sharks and yet still dreams of the upgrades he will buy after every paycheck he recieves. Out of all the characters we encounter, Kobo is definitely the one who is most fleshed out and developed. My main issue with the story was how the side characters felt pretty two dimensional, without a lot of time being put into their characterization. It was very clear that the author put a lot of care and effort into the world and if that same level of care was placed into these characters then I could see this book very easily being a five star read. The story itself wasn't particularly surprising but it flowed well and had a steady pacing that never really seemed to slow down or lag which made for a very enjoyable (at times sad) reading experience as you walk alongside Kobo in this barely livable world where everyone and everything is just another object that the corporate elite can own.       There is a lot of talk about baseball in this book but none of it was too in depth or technical to the point where you have to know the game to understand it- I for one know next to nothing about the sport and was still able to understand what was going on in the moments where Kobo was talking about the game. It was a actually pretty interesting metaphor for the world- to see the game still be referred to as "The Great American Pastime" and have the rules and plays of the game stay the same, the only thing changing about it being the players, who are all so enhanced and modified by bio upgrades that they can barely even be considered human anymore.       The ending was satisfying and felt very realistic and true to the world that we were introduced to, it didn't feel out of place and although many of the side characters felt underdeveloped, none of their conclusions felt out of character or random. I would highly recommend this book to someone looking for a quick read sci-fi standalone and if the author ever writes another story set in this world then I'm sure to be one of the first people looking to pick it up.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Josefine

    I have a YouTube channel and reviewed this book here: https://youtu.be/Eq8azYmpnxs The Body Scout is a SciFi story that also kind of is a Thriller. Kobo has a crappy life, full of debt because he couldn’t stop upgrading his body. His job is a dead end, he hasn’t talked to his friends in ages, and the one relationship from years ago went nowhere. In a world where everything is measured by money, it has become harder and harder to hold on to it. Addiction seems to be a real issue - not just to const I have a YouTube channel and reviewed this book here: https://youtu.be/Eq8azYmpnxs The Body Scout is a SciFi story that also kind of is a Thriller. Kobo has a crappy life, full of debt because he couldn’t stop upgrading his body. His job is a dead end, he hasn’t talked to his friends in ages, and the one relationship from years ago went nowhere. In a world where everything is measured by money, it has become harder and harder to hold on to it. Addiction seems to be a real issue - not just to constant upgrades for one's body, but also drugs like cigarettes that not just numb your pain but your feelings too. It’s easy to be get lost in the chaos, sink down into the smog that is everywhere, and be forgotten. In this not-so-distant future, Kobo watches his brother play baseball (he’s a famous player), but instead of running to the next base, his brother suddenly falls apart. Blue goo running down his face, dissolving. Between the numbness from his cigarettes, he is devastated and wants to find out what happened. This is where the story begins… He reaches out to old friends and with their help, uncovers his brother’s life and what happened to him. And with every answer comes a new question. What really happened that night on the field? The story is paced really well. You want to know what happens next, so it’s hard to put down the book. It’s more plot-driven. While the characters are interesting, you don’t get to know them intimately (not much character development either). Overall, the writing is good. A bit repetitive at times. What bugged me though is the sports lingo. There was a bit too much in the book for my taste (I don’t care much about sport). Also, the names of the teams - that are in typical future-looking scifi-manner full of sponsor names - get a bit annoying at one point. Also, at times the use of medical terms for the body parts can get confusing. Thankfully, I just watched several seasons of Bones, so I was somewhat familiar with the terms. If you are a fan of baseball, I highly recommend this book. If not, ignore the sports analogies and focus on the story itself. Interesting setup of our world, fun and feisty characters, and a good plot twist at the end. Thanks to Netgalley and Orbit for approving me for an early access copy! I really enjoyed this book.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Brad Rowan

    This was received as an ARC from Netgalley. In an alternate/future world where humans can swap their body parts for newer models and use lab created drugs to enhance their body, Kobo (the protagonist) becomes addicted to buying upgrades for his body. He is 6 figures in debt with no way out on his salary. There are confusing names in the book. A lot of the baseball teams and products mentioned are entirely fictional; this takes some time to get used too at first. This book was adequate and intere This was received as an ARC from Netgalley. In an alternate/future world where humans can swap their body parts for newer models and use lab created drugs to enhance their body, Kobo (the protagonist) becomes addicted to buying upgrades for his body. He is 6 figures in debt with no way out on his salary. There are confusing names in the book. A lot of the baseball teams and products mentioned are entirely fictional; this takes some time to get used too at first. This book was adequate and interesting; the only real issue is the length. There a great deal of slumps between the action. This caused it to be cumbersome to read to reach the next peak.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...