Jumpdrives & Cantrips

March 24, 2008, 1843
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ReBodyCitiria Publishing contacted me to review Clive Warner’s ReBody and it wasn’t what I would personally pick up off the shelf. I figured maybe I would find some hidden merit. I was wrong. I barely finished ReBody. It has a convoluted plot, unlikable characters, inane logic, trivial quotations for every chapter, and prose dotted with errors that should have been caught long before publication.

Hugh Toffle is an English professor (or a history professor as per the last part of the book) whose head gets cryogenically preserved, only to be thawed and stuck onto a glorified cleaning machine in 2373. The story includes cats and dogs represent opposing political philosophies, with some rats and primates along for the ride. Hugh’s head gets grafted onto an orangutan body, and later his consciousness gets transferred to a robot. The story perseverates with the conflict between animals and with robots, AKA the destroyers of mankind. It culminates in Hugh leading a gloriously useless onslaught against the robots.

Now, Hugh (as in, Hugh-man, get it? Get it?!) is a character I just can’t find it in me to care about. It doesn’t help that Warner tells the story in first person present tense, but that isn’t what really irks me. For some reason, random things segue into Hugh’s penis. He spends the majority of the book thinking with his genitals, or just not thinking and letting every other entity around solve his problems.

I was uncomfortable to find all the women in ReBody were sex objects. There’s a lot of ogling and explicit daydreaming involving pert breasts and see-through clothing without any purpose in the story that I can delineate. Warner also mistakes having a potty mouth as being humourous. A sample: “A powerful smell of ripe poo overlays the ammoniacal pee, and I hear the growling, snarling, snapping, chomping, sound of the dogs, not far behind.” (p. 138). I’m not sure if Mr.Warner is writing this particular oeuvre for 5-year-olds, but the language fits.

I get the sense that this work was supposed to be a satire of the science fiction genre. As I mentioned in my previous post on the Good/Bad Continuum, satire must be crafted skillfully and if the subject matter is bad, then it must be so bad that it cycles through to good again. ReBody lacks the skill needed for satire, and the subject matter never becomes campy, ironic, or witty enough to qualify. If there’s an ideological point to be had, it’s stuck in an inconsistent and boring story.

Warner describes ReBody as a combination of I, Robot, Animal Farm, and Planet of the Apes. Those three works do not combine well, and ReBody never manages to enter that level of literature. You can always go try out the first chapter and see for yourself.

Bottom line: if you’re looking for SF satire with preserved heads, pick up Futurama instead.

Warner, Clive. ReBody. Monterrey, Mexico: Citiria Publishing, 2007. 269 pages. $19.02 (Canadian).