Titles are important, as is the case with this trilogy opening novel’s title, but I almost didn’t read this one. Body Suit? Sounds like a fashion mistake from my youth. Once I began, the narrative style didn’t grab me from the outset, as the point-of-view characters switched back and forth between a soon to be indentured servant/colonist and a rather prissy seller of space suits. Hold on, y’all, because it gets better! Or maybe the author’s style grew on me. Anyway, the switching back and forth continues as the two-fold adventure develops, but each character fleshes out so well that I genuinely enjoyed each character’s time as POV.
The purchaser of the body suit, Silvariah Frandelle, initially travels to a space station called Guam, where she learns both how to navigate being a servant (called a Contractor in the book) and how to use the fancy body suit of the title, and then to Mars, as a miner at the new Resnik colonial facility. Back on Earth Walter Cuevas, who sold the suit for far less than its MSRP in exchange for some tips on how the suit performs, learns to act on the suggestions that the business savvy Sil Frandelle communicates to him. His fortunes grow by leaps and bounds as Sil helps him get lucrative advertising deals, then offers tips on which stocks to purchase based on her observations while in space.
Both Sil and Walter must deal with Artificial Intelligence entities, too. Sil is introduced to the Companion while on Guam, and the AI is also present with her on Mars. The Companion is really her Taskmaster, but the programmers chose a more benevolent title for the AI, as its job is multifunctional, assessing (or perhaps spying on) her, while also directing her industrial activities on behalf of those who own her contract. Walter, as he grows more wealthy entrusts Daisy, a personal assistant AI who is styled as a young female human, to assist him in his business matters as well as being a loyal and undemanding companion, unlike his ex-wife. But, like any program, even a personal assistant can be hacked….
There are almost too many minor characters to keep straight, quite a bit of action, and sufficient suspense to keep the reader swiping the pages. Sil’s stay on Mars only starts out boring. The plot moves along quite well, actually. I really liked this story, once I got into it, and I am tempted to buy the rest of the trilogy, although the book stands alone well-enough.
Body Suit is science fiction, obviously, but in the manner of great sci-fi, because it delves into some really controversial aspects of the role of artificial intelligence in society. As programs such as Chat-GPT are growing in popularity, the moral questions broached in this novel are timely. Without spoiling the suspense with specifics, the novel also touches on how eugenics might change society, too. But, more than that, there are some interesting word choices in this novel, which let the reader know that some thought went into this one! I highly recommend it.