I Can't Get Over the Detachable Limbs!

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Never having read a book in which I thought a movie would be better, while reading the Hermes Protocol, by Chris M. Arnone, during one of the ending scenes, when the thought, "how cool this would be to see in a movie,” popped into my head, I was surprised that, for the first time, something I never thought would happen, finally did. But, when you have a cast of characters that exist in a future version of Earth, having moved far from their ancestors home planet, who have a series of removable limbs that can do all sorts of things on their body you never thought possible…. the picture I made up in my head couldn’t do justice to what I thought could be done on screen. When it comes to the visual, I can never do the art form justice, as well as others can.

During one point in the book, when the main character, during her journey to return the stolen A.I. chip, Bastion, to her corporation, caught in a jam, the intel operative, Elise, her foot parting, clamping down to help her, picturing this futuristic limb turning her almost ape-like, in positioning, words alone (and my thought pictures), in my opinion, do not do this inventive, creative and original story justice. And there are many instances, especially with all the action in The Hermes Protocol, where that thought came to pass.

I mean how can you not want to see on-screen humans who, though the author never shares just how attaching the limbs come about (or, better said, the detaching of the original limbs), have had their human limbs removed, only to be able to attach all these rechargeable limbs that aid them in everything they do, especially spy work? But, Arnone leaves reader’s to assume that these Jayu city citizens have had body parts lopped off, only to upgrade to rechargeable, better ones, that can do anything a mind can conceive of (and tons of things I could never have even thought of). I mean when people are going to make that kind of sacrifice, cutting arms and legs off, the things that the attachable arms, legs, and other “limb-like” creations you must be able to attach instead…must be just out of this world, to make that kind of sacrifice. And, when Arnone shares, with readers, many of what the attachable units provide, well, they are well beyond convenient (but, then regular arms and legs are convenient too). God forbid an EMP. But, so distant in the future, I’m sure there are remedies in these instances.

While not all of those in Jayu City have limbs that do the specific of Elise Corto-Intel (and I agree, I am really obsessed with the detachable limbs, more like, the removal of the originals for them, no matter what they can do), an Intel operative for the Corto Corporation (as the job and company are directly reflected in people's names), characters like Quynn, their/them, a Corto corporate worker, because of the way in which they/them view themselves, are able to take nanobots and injections, to change their appearance to be whomever they want, look however they want. The feelings inside that tell a person who they are, whether it is he/him, she/her, or they/them, in this futuristic world are finally able to be expressed in outworld appearance.

Can you imagine a day in which you would be able to express everything you fully feel about yourself inside, having the ability to express it externally? And, that it could drastically change, from day to day, even, hour to hour? Well, in Jayu City, far into the future, the author Chris M. Arnone has finally found a cognizant, pleasurable way for readers to see this happen in some characters. While some in Jayu City might not choose to have removable limbs, there are others who find importance elsewhere, such as Quynn, Elise’s partner. Able to birth, in appearance, the feelings of self one has inside them.

But, in this cognizant, original, but still, twisted, world, that, instead of being run by a government, Jayu City, we find it ran completely by corporations. Five of them in fact. Arnone finally expresses a world in which pure capitalism reigns. Because, in not being ruled by a government, but by corporations, what better capitalist form could be compiled? The problems that we see in forms of capitalist societies begin to emerge in The Hermes Protocol and, as the book closes, there are still several aspects of the mystery of why Bastion, the A.I. chip, was stolen, really, developed in the first place, that remain unanswered.

The premise of the book, the A.I chip, Bastion, that Elise Corto-Intel had just stolen is taken directly out of the Corto Corporation's vault, essentially, being stolen once more. This causes the Hermes Protocol to be enacted. This rarely enacted, unheard of protocol, if enacted, promises the end for Elise, not just in the Corto Corporation, which is like family, but in all of Jayu City. The direct fault for the theft of the chip that Elise had, moments before it had been stolen, put in the vault herself, of course, is laid directly at her feet. And, guilty by association in Jayu City, if Elise is to fail, her partner Quynn, is buried with her.

The reason why the chip was stolen is simple. In a purely capitalist society what would be the motivations? The simple answer: greed. And, there is greed over and over, in the book. But, who was motivated to steal the chip (other than the Corto Corporation) and why? Faced with other corporations, her own corporation, Elise is left to put those pieces together, with help from her partner, slivers of the A.I. Bastion, in her ear, they are led all over Jayu City. And, finally, on the water, where the answer to whether The Hermes Protocol will destroy Elise and her partner is answered.

But, now that Elise and Quynn have been befriended by Bastion, the A.I. chip, who can think, act and reason, just as a person (actually, against the law in Jayu City); in the end will they be able to make the chip hole (by recovering the stolen piece) or will he be destroyed in the race to recover himself? And, even if Elise manages to recover the chip, Bastion’s biggest fear, to be enslaved by another, not able to do and think for himself, just as a human would want, still remains and, as the mystery of him is pieced together, worsens. In the end not even Elise may be able to prevent this from happening. And, if she were to be made to stand up to her own corporation, for Bastion, who becomes like a friend (sometimes even an annoying one), for his freedom…would she destroy herself for this invented personality in her ear?

Find out these answers and more by reading The Hermes Protocol, simply a ride you don’t want to miss. I only wish now, after reading the book, to one day see it on screen. And, as I think Arnone leaves readers with a few unanswered questions in the end, that left me excited and hoping that The Hermes Protocol is only the beginning of a great new series with more to come. Truly, I think readers will think as I do, that this is the start of something great! Join us for the ride!

Happy Reading!