The Human Blend by Alan Dean Foster
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The Human Blend (Tipping Point Trilogy) by Alan Dean Foster
I don't have much in my collection from Alan Dean Foster and that's all pretty ancient. So I thought I'd try this one out and see how his writing has improved. The premise is pretty good and the first chapter kept my interest; but then something happened and it might be related somehow to the fact that the author has quite a few film adaptations to his credit.
The story starts out with two melds, Jimney and Whispr, as they roll another meld for his parts, or at least his advanced hand. Jimney is employing a device that stops the man’s melded heart and his intent seems to include knowledge that this will kill the victim. Later Whispr makes a statement that either sounds like he didn't know all of that or he's trying to downplay what really went down. The bottom line is that the man has a piece of interesting tech woven into his clothing and they sign their own death warrants, when they take that. They are soon to be pursued by the police and two other shadowy agencies.
Elsewhere Dr. Ingrid Seastrom discovers a rather interesting added bit of tech in a meld done through some of the cheaper meld markets. The tech seems to be some sort of impossible metal that is quantum-ly entangled and over a period of time vanishes leaving her with no evidence. We later discover that Dr. Seastrom may have some hazy edge to her practice that borders on illicit; though possibly she has twisted moral reasoning behind what she does. This is not well defined and almost comes as a surprise although as a reader I was certain that the goal was to ultimately mix Dr. Seastrom with Whispr.
The next part of the novel is the cinematic influenced dance with death and destiny that brings Whispr through one desperate situation after another until he reaches the doorstep of the Dr Seastrom. In his wake are a number of victims who are mostly killed by way of brief association with Whispr. This part has the same feel as the movie Into the Night with Jeff Goldblum and Michele Pfeiffer. This made each meeting of Whispr with a new contact quite predictable in that the reader knows someone will soon show up and his contact would be permanently silenced. Many times the climactic scene was right while Whispr was there making the escape more thrilling. Oddly something happens, inexplicably, with the meeting with Dr. Seastrum and it takes much longer for the brute squad to catch up. By that time they have enough warning that the two have escaped.
There is a bit of haziness about why Ingrid ends up finally on the run with Whispr; though there could have been any number of fair reasons it seems mostly an almost clinical yet obsessive interest in the new technology and what it might potentially mean to her patients (yet even that is unclear). Murder and mayhem now follow at a slight bit slower pace; the possible excuse for that being that the two together make a better team against those in pursuit. In fact, it seems that that isn't so; as the reader will see that that is more of a self delusion; while coming up close on the end.
This is a serial so while the end is somewhat complete for this story the reader is left with a sense there is a lot more to come and we'll have to check those out to find the rest of the story.
This is a fair offering in the SSF department and has element familiar to steampunk (In the augmented human quantity and the sense of a dystopic future). Though I have this sense that this novel could be compacted by removing some of the excess cinematic specials, there is something to saying that it would then deprive the reader of some of the basic journey to get to the point.
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