By Edward Ashton
(304, sci-fi, 2022)
Waking up in the same body isn’t always a guarantee in the distant future. Well, sort of.
In Edward Ashton’s latest novel, the titular protagonist, Mickey7, is an Expendable, or someone used as a renewable resource when colonizing new planets. Unfortunately, this means Mickey is likely to die from completing his colony’s various dirty deeds and maintenance duties, all of which are certainly not OSHA compliant. Arguably worse, when Mickey dies, a clone of himself is regenerated to continue with the next dangerous job.
The book is set far in the future, when humanity is required to launch ark ships out of our solar system with the hope of expanding humanity’s footprint to new, life sustaining planets. It’s a risky undertaking, even by the future’s technological standards. Despite this, Mickey, desperate to leave his home world behind, enrolls as the colony ship Drakkar’s only Expendable. The colony ship reaches its destination in just short of a decade and establishes a new colony on the planet Niflheim. After a botched exploratory mission, Mickey7 is presumed to be dead. His partner, Berto, returns to the colony and files the paperwork to generate Mickey’s newest iteration, Mickey8. The problem is — Mickey7 doesn’t actually die. He returns to the colony, harboring the secret that he is now a “multiple.” When you add a failing food supply and conflicts with the nearby “Creepers” to the mix, Mickey finds himself with a massive problem on his hands.
Mickey7 was a quick, enjoyable read, but not without its faults. The book seems to take 200 pages to reach its second act, which leads to a very quick resolution. Ashton had plenty of opportunities to expand upon one of the various aspects of the novel that he seemed to gloss over. He flits back and forth from focusing on the ethics of cloning, to the local alien species, then to immortality, agriculture, the galactic economy, and more. The result is a very shallow world for his characters to interact with. I was hoping he would focus on any of the features he introduces to inject some much-needed depth into the story, but it never really happens. The plot is wrapped up by the end, it just has a little less meat and potatoes to it than I would prefer.
Despite my negative review, Mickey7 was still an entertaining read. It’s sprinkled with some good humor and interesting concepts to keep your attention. If you’re a fan of Andy Weir, odds are you’ll enjoy this book, too.
I suppose I’ll have wait for Mickey8 and hope for the best.
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