Review of The Genehunter: The Complete Casebook
Some secrets are best left buried...
Simms is a genehunter: a detective paid to track down the DNA of the famous and infamous of history for his clients' private collections. What they do with the DNA isn't his problem - even if they are using it to create illegal clones.
He walks a line, pulled in a hundred different directions at once. The law, competing genehunters, ex-lovers, religious nuts and anti-genehunter crazies. But when he starts to work the Boneyard case he discovers that, sometimes, you have to decide which side of the line you're on.
And when he starts to uncover the truth of his own origins he begins to question everything he is and does...
A cyberpunk detective novel set on an Earth slowly going to hell. Originally published as a series of five linked novellas: The Wrong Tom Jacks, The Zombies of Death, The Clone Who Didn't Know, A Soldier of Megiddo and Boneyard.
With added bonus material: The World of Simms (characters and organisations of the Genehunter universe) and 22nd Century Genie (the original Simms short story).
The Genehunter stories will keep you up at night. Each adventure poses a new challenge for Simms and more dangers. With each story Simms's character deepens as he approaches an existential crisis. Set in a not-to-distant future version of Earth in which information is the most prized commodity, the stories follow the exploits of a pessimistic but likable criminal, if you narrowly define a criminal as someone who breaks the law. Simms is a professional genehunter, a trade that can be practiced both above and below the law. The best paying contracts are less than legal. Simms finds the DNA of deceased persons, both famous and not so famous, whomever the client wants him to find. What the client does with the DNA, Simms does not seem to much care. Illegal cloning is rampant as the super-rich create private "zoos" populated by the talented and famous from the past.
Simms's brain is augmented with plug-ins that allow him to access public and private networks and a host of other interesting functions. Kewin manages to make all the high-tech gadgetry seem natural. Perhaps it's not that much of a mental leap to go from carrying a personal electronic device at all times to having one that your brain controls and interfaces with directly. It's a testament to Kewin's skills that the reader quickly feels at home in a world that is so like and unlike our own.
One of the constants of human existence is greed and in Kewin's world, greed is alive and thriving. There appears to be little that the super-rich cannot get or do if they have enough money and everyone from low-level clinicians to high-level law enforcement officers have their price. For Simms, the joy is in the search and retrieval of the data. He's not happy unless he's stimulated, on a job. He's mostly indifferent to the moral implications of his work and in that sense he's an anti-hero, but his love interest is devoting her life to alleviating the problems that Simms's work facilitates. And despite her hostility to continuing their relationship, Simms's thoughts keep coming back to her. Simms is a complicated man. You want to reach into the text and throttle him at times. The guy doesn't know what's good for himself, but it's always thrilling to see him get out of his latest predicament.
Kewin does a marvelous job structuring the series. Each novella delves into Simms's quest to fulfill a single client's request while a broader, secondary plot concerning the mysterious Boneyard develops at the series level. There's something to satisfy the reader's immediate need for closure and something to carry forward to the next installment. So fire up your plugins and dive into the not-so-pleasant future with Simms.
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To learn more about Simon Kewin and his writing, visit his blog.
To learn about Kewin's take on The Genehunter series, check out "Simon Kewin Talks about The Genehunter."