A Review of Don Bassingthwaite’s “Too Much is Never Enough” in Imaginarium 2013: The Best Canadian Speculative Fiction (ChiZine Publications, 2013)
By Derek Newman-Stille
We live in a society in which bodily perfection is considered a major goal. Our society privileges its ideas of beauty, its entrenched notions of health, and able-bodiedness. People medically modify their bodies, cosmetically alter them to appear more like the norms and desires of our society, altering their essential selves. Don Bassingthwaite’s “Too Much is Never Enough” allies this desire for bodily perfection with athleticism. Marco Cole finds himself modified, altered, his body more attractive than before… so much so that he can’t stop looking at himself. He becomes stronger, faster, and more dangerous. The danger from him is not just from his bodily abilities, but from the modifications that have been done to his mind. Whenever he suffers, whenever he has a conflict of morality or fear, his body triggers a Dopamine switch to make him learn to enjoy fear, and pain and to get rid of any concern
Like his body, Marco finds that his will is controlled. He is forged into a fighter for a championship match, but the main objective he has had forced onto him is to assassinate a man. He becomes the perfect killing doll, modified into a military Barbie, posed and perfected until he is nothing but plastic, a play thing of his owners.
Bassingthwaite explores the dangers of a system that is based on a desire for modification and the loss that occurs when bodies are changed, altered, and modified for a social purpose. Modifications and the social pressure to enhance the body and conform it to social notions of beauty and control are difficult to battle against, and it is hard to wrestle control away from the desires that are written onto our bodies.
To discover more about Imaginarium 2013, visit ChiZine Publications’ website at http://chizinepub.com/books/imaginarium/imaginarium_2013.php . To find out more about Don Bassingthwaite, you can visit his website at http://dbassingthwaite.com/ .