I bought Xenoform by Mike Berry (@xenomike) with little advance knowledge, having seen a recommendation from someone whose taste I trust on Twitter. When it comes to sci-fi I tend more toward Battlestar Galactica than Aliens, but I enjoy finding new authors to enjoy so I jumped at it.
The first chapters were a blur of vivid and compelling imagery as Berry pulled the curtain up on a future Earth where humans have Direct Neural Interface (DNI) sockets and wireless connection routers in their heads/bodies to interface with their high-tech environment, from their transportation to their coffee machines. The cultural scene of City Six is also alive with body modifications, or bodymods, as humans take on the guise or animals and machines in the form of new/changed limbs, skin, eyes, etc.
Debian is a hacker extraordinaire, with plenty of firmware and software installed in his body to surf through the extensive virtual world that exists and find any piece of information his well-heeled clients seek. It’s one such job that promises a huge payday that becomes one of the main storylines in Xenoform. The other involves a small criminal group led by a beautiful and calculating woman, Whistler.
Police powers have been contracted out in some places of the city, and criminal enterprise is both organized and primitive, ranging from various gangs waiting to rise up and take charge to well-connected and heavily armed syndicates. Whistler and her gang of “harvesters” operate in the middle somewhere. Whistler’s group is under contract to a bodymod organization and they kidnap suitably interesting humans whose bodies are dissected for their organs and bodymods. But there appears to be a problem in the bodymod industry … a problem that Whistler’s group needs to solve before they can get paid for their last two jobs.
That’s probably enough information to start with, and maybe more than I should say, but I found Xenoform to be a thrilling, and surprising story with plenty of twists, turns and action that kept me hitting the “page forward” button on my Kindle. Berry’s prose and descriptions create a vivid backdrop for his well-developed characters to play against, and the reader can almost see, hear and smell what’s happening in City Six.