Edward Ashton’s Mickey 7 has been called a sci-fi thriller and compared to The Martian in more than one early review, but if you come into this book expecting thriller elements or something like The Martian , then you will probably be disappointed. The plot is too twisty to be a thriller, and other than it being a sci-fi book set on an inhospitable planet, I can’t think of anything that reminds me of The Martian.
Of course, pushing marketing in either direction isn’t the fault of Ashton or the book itself, so that complaint aside, what is Mickey 7 really trying to do? to do ? Well, Ashton attempts to explore the price of immortality, to ask how and why people make the trade-offs they make to stay alive, and asks if it’s worth it. And, with these questions in mind, it does a good job.
Mickey Barnes is an Expendable, the least popular job on the colony ship. His role is to do all the dirty work and die doing it, if need be. The Mickey we meet is the seventh, brought back to life by a machine that saved his plan. Mickey is the same man he’s always been – except he’s the seventh version. When there is a mix-up on a mission, Mickey 8 comes to life before Mickey 7 dies, and they spend the rest of the novel trying to hide the fact that they are two in a colony run by a man who hates multiple and would rather he didn’t need a Consumable at all. Add to that the base being attacked by local wildlife, known as creepers, and it’s all going to escalate real fast – especially since Mickey 7 is the only one who’s had any real contact with the creatures that don’t. didn’t It didn’t result in a horrific death.
There are a lot of threads in Mickey 7 and not all reach their full potential as Ashton tries to juggle sci-fi elements with his more philosophical musings. The story ends as it seems it should begin. Sometimes, the urge to skip pages to return to Mickey and his multiple is strong, which shows where the strength of writing lies.
Mickey is a very strong character; more of an antihero than a traditional antihero, but with a streak of good in him that becomes more apparent as the story progresses. He agreed to become an Expendable, a job usually done by nothing less than the press, because he owes money to a sleazy character named Darius. After getting a taste of Darius’ torture machine, Mickey decides that dying an infinite number of times on a distant spaceship is a better option. Mickey is, in many ways, a very normal guy. He was a historian, except there’s not much use for one of them when people are busy trying to find new planets to inhabit. He has a boyfriend and a girlfriend, and he’s content with that, until the day he doesn’t die when he’s supposed to and starts realizing his own worth.
Immortality is a tough thing for Mickey to handle, even in his own head. While training for his new job, he discovers Theseus’ ship; the idea that Theseus traveled the world in a wooden boat and along the way replaced every plank and every nail. So, was the ship that ended the journey the same ship that started it? Mickey remembers this story but cannot properly explain it when asked. The character he’s trying to relate to asks him why he can’t remember when it’s so relevant to his life, and Mickey doesn’t have an answer. It’s not until he comes face to face with Mickey 8, a guy he has very little time for, that Mickey 7 realizes that you can replace every item, but that doesn’t make it the same. thing.
In a more general sense, Ashton’s thoughts on immortality in the novel are summed up perfectly for me by the way the story is used. The planet Mickey lives on before his new job is called Midgard, just like the Vikings called Earth. The new colony planet is called Niflheim, one of the nine Viking worlds. A failed colony that Mickey talks about is called Roanoke, after the failure of North American colonization by the English. All these names are thrown around without irony, by people who have long since forgotten what they really represent. If Mickey were to live long enough – if any Expendable were to live long enough – their purpose would also be forgotten. And why go on forever?
Mickey 7 is a solid, middling sci-fi novel that will appeal to most fans of the genre. I only wish the moments of greatness could have been even greater.
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