In the near future, artificial organs (artiforgs) can be bought to save a person’s life – or simply enhance life’s quality. From kidneys to central nervous systems, the expensive artiforgs can be bought on credit, and if you miss too many payments, they can be repossessed.
When we meet Remy, he is a former repo man hiding in a burned-out hotel, as the payments on his own artiforg are overdue. He’s not just ex-repo, he’s ex-Marine and an ex-lover of five wives – and throughout this tight, pacy narrative, we learn all about his life and how he got to be in the mess he’s in.
The character is a tough guy, coming to terms with past and present, and The Repossession Mambo is absorbing and fun, like an 80s Bruce Willis action movie, as opposed to a stylised thriller. At first I was a little put off by the lack of strong female characters. The author could have included some female repo ‘men’. It seems unrealistic that women would be relegated to stereotypical (sex workers and wives) roles in a near-future society. But things do turn around when Bonnie is introduced, and Remy revisits his relationships and wrongdoings. We see that much of the female-blindness stems from his world view (it’s in first person). Still, at least one female repo-worker would have brought more authenticity to the story.
But you really end up liking the bastard, and rooting for him, despite the fact he bloodily tears the organs from overextended customers. These scenes can be gruesome – but the legality of repossession says a lot about a desensitised future full of self-absorbed beings, deeming themselves worthy of life-extension (often with ‘optional extras’).
The Repossession Mambo is a clever and entertaining piece of genre fiction – escapism with a little future-food for thought.
This book will come out as a film in 2010, called Repo Men (disappointingly, it seems there are no female repo-workers in this version too, just going by the title).