The Body Factory: From the First Prosthetics to the Augmented Human

Graphic Mundi. May 2021. 168p. tr. from French by Kendra Boileau. ISBN 9780271087061. pap. $18.95. SCI
Rarely has dismemberment been explicated with such playful frankness. A motorcyclist heads off into the woods, confronting first a deer and then the walls of a hospital room, where he finds he’s missing most of one arm from the accident. His distress, however, is interrupted by a historically garbed gentleman who emerges from a portrait on the wall and identifies himself as Ambroise Paré, 16th-century inventor of the prosthetic limb. Repelled, fascinated, and hopeful, the motorcyclist follows this apparition through the history of artificial human parts—a journey interspersed with the young man’s own medical journey towards acquiring a prosthesis himself. The final chapter carries the two men into the future, speculating about how far technology might go in expanding human capabilities. Chochois (Intelligences Artificielles) uses simple, dynamic color themes to differentiate the narratives: black and white for the patient’s real-life trials and strong neon-ish hues to establish the different historical periods.
VERDICT Gruesome yet puckish, this summary conveys fascinating details of amputation, tourniquets, the phantom limb phenomenon, and prosthetics design. It makes a fine choice for adult and teen collections and for science curricula.
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