Author: Timothy Zahn
Soulminder had a lot of potential. Potential that in some ways, it filled, but in others, it left me wanting. All-in-all, it's a pretty easy read with an entertaining plot, but the plot holes and stereotypes get to you after a while.
The premise of Soulminder is that a doctor grieving for his dead five-year-old son decides to find a way to postpone death—trapping people's souls until their body has healed. Once he succeeds, he has to deal with the moral, ethical, and spiritual ramifications of this, as well as the political and economical.
Unfortunately, most of the issues raised in the book choose the most stereotypical choices. Of course it's a Latin American country that has a corrupt government. Of course it's a Middle Eastern country that is torturing people to death repeatedly. Of course paraplegics so desperately want to walk again that they'd give up their current body for another one. (News flash for able-bodied people: contrary to popular belief, most physically disabled folks don't stay at home all day wistfully thinking, "But if only I could walk...")
There are also some weird assumptions, like no one else would develop this tech and they'd control it themselves forever because they didn't file patents and their security is the bestest. ...as if the technology merely existing isn't enough to get people started on the right path? Or that scientists wouldn't really want to figure out what this "soul" thing is, and do some research in that direction. One of the scientists points out that we don't know it's a soul for like three seconds and then it's just assumed we all know that's what it is for the rest of the book. A reason is thrown out why body-swapping wouldn't work for the most part, and next thing we know it's the biggest craze since not dying when you should die.
Oh, and when there's a ~moral point to be made, the dialogue gets terribly stilted and almost painful. Gross.
So why isn't this a one-star? Because it wasn't entirely terrible. It kept having icky parts, but on the whole it leveled out to "meh."