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The Sum of Her Parts

Cover of The Sum of Her Parts

The Sum of Her Parts

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In this thrilling science fiction adventure--the triumphant conclusion to the Tipping Point trilogy--New York Times bestselling author Alan Dean Foster returns to a near future in which genetic manipulation and extreme body modification have changed profoundly what it means to be human.

Dr. Ingrid Seastrom was once a respected American physician. Whispr, whose body has been transformed to preternatural thinness, was once a streetwise thief. Now, in a world on the edge of catastrophe from centuries of environmental exploitation, they are allies--thrust together by fate to unravel an impossible mystery--even as they are stalked by a relentless killer.

Ingrid and Whispr are hunted fugitives bound together by a thread: a data-storage thread made of a material that cannot exist, yet somehow does. Their quest to learn its secrets--and, in Whispr's case, sell them to the highest bidder--has brought them to South Africa's treacherous Namib desert. Beyond its dangers waits a heavily guarded research facility that promises answers, if they can survive long enough to get there. But that won't be easy, not with Napun Molé on their trail. They've already escaped the assassin twice, and as far as Molé is concerned, finishing them off isn't just a job anymore . . . it's personal.

In this thrilling science fiction adventure--the triumphant conclusion to the Tipping Point trilogy--New York Times bestselling author Alan Dean Foster returns to a near future in which genetic manipulation and extreme body modification have changed profoundly what it means to be human.

Dr. Ingrid Seastrom was once a respected American physician. Whispr, whose body has been transformed to preternatural thinness, was once a streetwise thief. Now, in a world on the edge of catastrophe from centuries of environmental exploitation, they are allies--thrust together by fate to unravel an impossible mystery--even as they are stalked by a relentless killer.

Ingrid and Whispr are hunted fugitives bound together by a thread: a data-storage thread made of a material that cannot exist, yet somehow does. Their quest to learn its secrets--and, in Whispr's case, sell them to the highest bidder--has brought them to South Africa's treacherous Namib desert. Beyond its dangers waits a heavily guarded research facility that promises answers, if they can survive long enough to get there. But that won't be easy, not with Napun Molé on their trail. They've already escaped the assassin twice, and as far as Molé is concerned, finishing them off isn't just a job anymore . . . it's personal.

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Excerpts-
  • Chapter One

    The monster was gruff but polite, with an accent inclining to the French. As she contemplated the hulking sack of bipedal testosterone looming athwart the road, Ingrid could understand why he might prefer to intercept them outside of town and away from staring crowds. Even in a world populated by weird and eccentric Melds, the freewalker’s appearance was outlandish.

    And make no mistake about it: he had intended to intercept them. Just the way he stared in their direction was proof enough that his presence on the otherwise empty dirt track was no accident.

    She and Whispr were almost a full day out from Orangemund on the single road leading north--“road” being far too flattering a description for the ancient 4x4 trail. There was no indication that it had recently been utilized by machine or man. In this forbidding desert terrain a floater, any kind of floater, would be a more sensible way of getting around. So what little track still existed was not maintained. In any event, the linear remains would shortly peter out in the flat gravel plain and they would have to rely solely on the positioning components in their communicators and the secret route that had been given to them by Morgan Ouspel.

    Orangemund lay behind them. In every other direction was the emptiness of the Namib; sand and gravel, sun and scrub, and the bluest sky she had ever seen. Except directly ahead, where stood a monster.

    A description unbecoming to a physician, she chided herself. The freewalker wasn’t really a monster; only one of the more radical Melds she had ever encountered. She could hardly be blamed for her initial reaction. Certainly she had seen nothing so outlandish in Savannah, or even in her med-school studies. Extreme conditions called for extreme manips, she realized, and there were few places on the planet more extreme than the Namib desert.

    How she had come to find herself afoot at the southern edge of the Namib in the company of two Melds--one jumpy and unpredictable, the other exotic and intimidating--was a tale of searching and discovery that in retrospect seemed far more dream than reality. Of one thing, however, she could be absolutely certain: it was a long way from her familiar family practice and her comfortable codo back home.

    While the freewalker studied them she returned the favor. As near as she could tell he was somewhere in his forties. Either side of that she could not have hazarded a guess. Not considering how his body had been pushed, pulled, bloated, coated, maniped, and remelded. In some ways the melding that had been carried out was more extreme than that required to make a Martian, though less so than what was necessary to produce a viable Titanite. As the integrated autostabilizer adjusted her backpack’s position, a glance to the left revealed that Whispr was eyeing the hulk with his usual wariness.

    “You a riffler?” His tone was sour, his stance edgy.

    The sunscreen-maniped pupils of tiny eyes peered down at Ingrid’s companion out of a wide, almost flattened head. The bald pate was composed of multiple folds of melded skin, each one intended to dissipate a little more of the skull’s internal heat. Only at the forehead, where the edges of individual layers of skin overlaid one another like exfoliating granite, was the melding evident. The lowest folds combined to create a flexible, almost prehensile brow that further served to protect the vulnerable eyes from blowing dust and a pitiless sun.

    “Name’s Quaffer. I’m no riffler. I’m a registered guide. Work at it, live by it, made for it. None better between Alexander Bay and Cape Cross....

About the Author-
  • Alan Dean Foster has written in a variety of genres, including hard science fiction, fantasy, horror, detective, Western, historical, and contemporary fiction. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller Star Wars: The Approaching Storm and the popular Pip & Flinx novels; two earlier novels in the Tipping Point trilogy, The Human Blend and Body, Inc.; and novelizations of several films including Transformers, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Star Wars, the first three Alien films, and Alien Nation. His novel Cyber Way won the Southwest Book Award for Fiction in 1990, the first science fiction work ever to do so. Foster and his wife, JoAnn Oxley, live in Prescott, Arizona, in a house built of brick that was salvaged from an early-twentieth-century miners' brothel. He is currently at work on several new novels and media projects.

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