Well, in the previous books I have looked at the concept of Mega-Corporations and touched on the idea of cyberware, so with this particular book I will probably continue my discussion on cyberware, though I will like to have a few words about the book first. I guess this novel would primarily be concerned about racism, and some have suggested that the concepts in this book are before their time: I disagree most heartily. The issue of racism has been around for quite a while, and, at least in the United States, began really boiling over in the 60s during the civil rights movement.
The protagonist is a young man named Peter, however when he reaches puberty he suddenly metamorphoses into a troll. In the Shadowrun world (like a lot of other worlds that are not related to Dungeons and Dragons) trolls are very big, very strong, and very tough. In fact in Shadowrun, the troll's skin is considered so tough that it counts as armour. However, being a walking, talking, smashing machine does have its draw backs - one of them being that you are pretty ugly and you are probably nowhere near as intelligent as others. However Peter is actually not that stupid as he is a doctor.
I guess the novel also explores the idea of accepting one self as one is. Peter became a troll, and as a medical practitioner, immediately began looking for ways to 'cure' himself of his condition. However, it technically is not a disease <i>per-se</i> (though the author does go into details of how one changes into a troll) but rather a change that naturally comes about (like puberty). It is suggested that until the awakening (that is when magic returned to Earth) we all had the dormant genes in our body and when magic was reawakened these genes were activated causing some to metamorphose into something else.
As well as accepting one's own self there is also the idea of how one is rejected because one is different. It is like trolls are only used, pretty much, for their strength, and the racial stereotyping that occurs pretty much suggests that trolls are all stupid. Obviously this is not the case with Peter as he is not only a medical practitioner but also a researcher. However he could probably still flatten Mike Tyson in the boxing ring.
The concept of cyberware is interesting (I know I am dramatically changing the subject, but I wanted to at least write about cyberware) as it is augmenting the human body. When my Mum got her pacemaker I noticed that she we from needing 12 hours of sleep a night to only 4 hours. When I discovered this I seriously wanted a pacemaker. Now, pacemakers are for fixing an abnormality in your heart, however I did not view it as such but rather a means of being able to augment one's physical characteristics, but I suspect that there will also be draw backs. In the Shadowrun world this is called essence.
Essence defines how human you are. The more metal that you put into your body, the less human you become, to the point where once you no longer have any essence you pretty much cease to be human and become little more than a rampaging monster. The type of cyberware available is everything from arms and legs to retrofitted eyes which allow split vision, zoom, as well as data matching (the eyes can have a Heads Up Display). However for every augmentation you take you lose some of your humanity.
As for the real world, I suspect that augmentation does not simply drain your humanity, but can have some serious negative effects upon your body. Taking the heart example above, because I do not need a pacemaker, installing a pacemaker so that I may have more productive hours in a day could end up being disastrous. It is like pushing a car beyond what the car is capable off. Cars, for instance, have a maximum amount that they can tow, and if they are forced to tow more than the car's capacity allows, you might be lucky and discover that the tow-bar has been ripped off the underside carriage, or you could be unlucky and discover that your entire engine has been fried.
I suspect that it will be the same with bodily augmentation. Drugs have a similar effect, particularly some restricted anti-depressants (MDMA for example). These drugs have the ability to convince you that everything is find, and that you can almost do anything and succeed. However the catch is that the drugs are causing you to delude yourself. I have seen people on such drugs that have what they believe to be a fool proof plan, but when they put it into action, it suddenly comes apart, but because the drug has deluded them to the point that they can only accept success, the result is pretty much a mental breakdown. The same goes for other augmentations. I believe that if I were to get a pacemaker when I do not need a pacemaker then it could result in my heart being forced to work overtime, and as a result, will radically increase my chances of having a heart attack.