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by John H. Sibley

Malcolm Steel, Jr., who has found a lucrative hustle in stealing healthy organs and selling them to patients in need of transplants, needs all the help he can get to make one last run and get out of the game for good. Original.
Download Bodyslick epub
ISBN: 1601830041
ISBN13: 978-1601830043
Category: Literature
Subcategory: Genre Fiction
Author: John H. Sibley
Language: English
Publisher: Dafina (July 1, 2008)
Pages: 402 pages
ePUB size: 1749 kb
FB2 size: 1281 kb
Rating: 4.4
Votes: 993
Other Formats: azw lrf lit lrf

I found John H. Sibley's futuristic gangster novel, Bodyslick, to be a very disturbing look at a potential urban society in the not so distant, future. The story is set in the year 2031, Chicago, where it seems that society has not learned a single thing from the mistakes of the past (our present). In terms of values, such as respect for life, dignity for humans or animals, or any priorities that would allow for a true quality of life, all have deteriorated.

In 2031, there are all the usual illegal underground operations--drugs, prostitution, weapons, money laundering, etc. But the crime of choice for Sibley's protagonist is the black market dealing of body parts. If that sounds gruesome, just saying it, wait till you read the book!

Typically, in a dramatic story, the reader is led to empathize with or, in effect, pull for the leading character. This is also true here, to some extent, but looking at the reality of Bodyslick's character, there is no rationalization up to the task of finding him to be a good guy: "Liza, to make a long story short I'm a bad guy. A criminal. I sell human body parts for big bucks." His view of himself is not unlike that of any other ruthless gangster. His personal rationalization is that he is doing a service, that he is providing the means for saving lives through medical transplant procedures. But truth is truth, and the truth is a case of the age old argument that the end justifies the means. Bodyslick is a somewhat likeable opportunist, but he is indeed an opportunist. To fulfill his own passion for power, possessions, and lust, he carelessly and consistently endangers the lives of those who care about him the most.

John H. Sibley is a gifted artist and writer. I read one of his short pieces and was, frankly, thrilled; at times he can write like the wind. I have to admit that the novel,Bodyslick, though not my cup of tea in many ways, would make an excellent movie, for those who could stand the obsession, the fixation, with the gore, the brutality, and the horror of life. It's a well thought out, well written work. And it's gripping--a page turner. But it seems to me that John had a message to convey with the book: that a man becomes what he is due to circumstances beyond his control. If I'm on track with that observation, then, no doubt, he is well aware of the extreme case he is attempting to make with this character. It is a message that I found rather weak. Another message that creeps into the story on rare occasions is that Bodyslick has sort of an elementary notion of a spiritual significance to it all. I thought this idea was presented accurately, because of his life of depravity. It's really quite normal for most of us to think of God--matters of spirituality--only as a passing thought or when in dire straits. Yet even the most depraved criminals, the most confirmed atheists, may well have their moments...

All in all, an interesting study of a sick group of characters in a sick society. A variety of gang-type organizations were represented, including the terrifyingly powerful Chinese and Italian rivals with their grand schemes, as well as the skinheads and other more loosely knit tough guys roaming the streets. That the manipulative powers of extreme and so-called legitimate wealth are involved goes, almost, without saying. Still, it does seem that we have to keep saying it. How to affect a change is another story.
Recommended--to those with the stomach for it.
In 2031, when the economy has collapsed and our way of life is changed enough to become unrecognizable, the organ business is booming. One of the people who benefit from this is Malcolm Steel, known as Bodyslick, a man who has his own way of doing business. But when a competitor tries to take over his lucrative industry, Bodyslick must find a way to keep himself above water.
Dystopian novels are always fascinating to read, it is interesting to see how different people picture our future world. The most curious thing is that the picture is always rather grim. This book is no different. The streets are filled, (even more than they are now) with gang members fighting over territory, with mutated humans and animals and with drugs of all kinds. The new commerce is centered around body parts, mainly organs, and of course there is a huge black market for these items. As with anything in our society even now, the wealthy, privileged people are the ones who have the most access to these organs, leaving the poor to suffer as they always have. The way the story is structured shows the change that's come to our civilization, with robots and all types of technology taking over many of the duties we depend on humans for now. In some cases, as with robots used to perform operations on humans, it is a good thing, while with others, as with one sad robot who performs the duties of a flight attendant, it's not such a step forward. It's interesting to see the idea of robots taken far enough that they actually look completely human, to the point where the main character can't tell them apart.
In books that have science fiction premises, the main danger is for the reader to be bombarded with strangely named artifacts, unpronounceable names and ideas that are hard for anyone without a science degree to grasp. This novel, however, avoids those faults. There are very few new terms, things such as the new drugs and the new, mutant creatures, and they are easily grasped. There is no need to turn back pages to figure out which word meant what, as in many sci-fi novels. It's not an easy thing to avoid, so compliments to the author for not falling into that trap.
This novel needs to be read with the knowledge of the urban quality of the plot. If it's not taken in this way, then the reader will miss most of the book's charm. There are some very comical dialogues that made me laugh out loud. Yes, there is cursing and foul language, as is to be expected in an urban novel, but not enough to become truly annoying, so no fear on that respect. There is a lot of violence, some which seemed a bit on the gratuitous side, made just to impact the reader, but that might have been exactly what the author had in mind. To shock with a spray of blood, to wake the reader up when things are getting a bit easier for Bodyslick. The pace is fast, leaving the readers breathless as Bodyslick diffuses one situation after another, never pausing for too long.
The characters are well done, their language reads naturally. It did seem, however , that Bodyslick forgets his girlfriend a bit too quickly, fantasizing about a female robot within a few pages. This might have been done on purpose to show the lack of emotion that everyone in the novel seems to have, which does a good job of portraying the bleakness of the future. That's something that makes a big impact on the reader, the complete starkness of emotion, the lack of real human bonds, which seem weak and diluted by the robots that mingle with the characters. That was a clever way of setting the mood for the novel, which never rises above mild despair.
There are many ethical discussions to be triggered by reading this book. Should we allow things like stem-cell, like DNA modifications? There are signs that point to the positive and the negative aspects of these choices in this novel. There is no clear-cut answer to them, but they do provide food for thought as we follow the characters down their difficult, action-packed road.
One of the things that is most enjoyable is the preface. It cannot be skipped over, as it explains the author's personal hardships that fueled his need to write the book, his struggles with a society that strives to keep minorities in the shadows, and who provide no exit route for them through the normal, easy channels. It sets the stage for the next few hundred pages, in which all of that will be showed, not multiplied or exaggerated, but with a keen eye for the common, everyday injustices.
This book might not be for everyone, mainly because of the violence, but if that is not something to hold you back, it is a very interesting read and it provides a frightening but astute look at what could be our future if we are not careful. Come jump in and follow Bodyslick through his dystopian world.