The Martian meets Multiplicity in Edward Ashton’s high concept science fiction thriller, in which Mickey7, an “expendable,” refuses to let his replacement clone Mickey8 take his place.
Dying isn’t any fun…but at least it’s a living.
Mickey7 is an Expendable: a disposable employee on a human expedition sent to colonize the ice world Niflheim. Whenever there’s a mission that’s too dangerous—even suicidal—the crew turns to Mickey. After one iteration dies, a new body is regenerated with most of his memories intact. After six deaths, Mickey7 understands the terms of his deal…and why it was the only colonial position unfilled when he took it.
On a fairly routine scouting mission, Mickey7 goes missing and is presumed dead. By the time he returns to the colony base, surprisingly helped back by native life, Mickey7’s fate has been sealed. There’s a new clone, Mickey8, reporting for Expendable duties. The idea of duplicate Expendables is universally loathed, and if caught, they will likely be thrown into the recycler for protein.
Mickey7 must keep his double a secret from the rest of the colony. Meanwhile, life on Niflheim is getting worse. The atmosphere is unsuitable for humans, food is in short supply, and terraforming is going poorly. The native species are growing curious about their new neighbors, and that curiosity has Commander Marshall very afraid. Ultimately, the survival of both lifeforms will come down to Mickey7.
That is, if he can just keep from dying for good.
What’s it about (in a nutshell):
Mickey7 by Edward Ashton is a sci-fi thriller about survival and the lengths one man will go to prolong his own life.
What I Enjoyed:
I enjoyed the immersive world-building that whisked me away to the planet Niflheim, where people from Earth have gone to survive after a defining war on Earth. Also, through technological advances, Earth has come up with a controversial role for people to play – an Expendable. An Expendable is the one sent into the most dangerous of situations and, upon their death, regenerated once more. So, it is a sort of immortality or as close to it as humans have ever been able to get.
I loved the narration, which is first-person and very conversational. Mickey 7 talks to the reader and explains what is going on in the present and what things in the past led to that point. He is a witty and reflective narrator, exuding a humbleness and wisdom reflective of someone who would make a great leader. I enjoyed his unique voice and everything it added to the tale.
Mickey7’s ability to survive in this hostile world gave the story all the thrills I needed to flip those pages faster and faster. For reasons no one can explain, this particular iteration of Mickey has developed into the pinnacle of survival through everything from a food shortage to contact with an alien species; he manages to not only survive it all but to thrive.
Lastly, I enjoyed the ending, and it took me by complete surprise. I did not have any idea how this story would end until I got there. The conclusion gave me all the feelings I had to suppress until then because I was too busy holding my breath, wondering what was coming next.
Reminds Me Of:
I’ve seen it compared to The Martian and Dark Matter, and I can see the resemblance. I think this story would appeal o fans of Andy Weir, who wrote The Martian and more recently Project Hail Mary)
The characters are all very well-developed, with complexities and layers that are foreign and relatable to the reader. Mickey7 is a hero, and he is very different from Mickey8. I love that I could quickly tell the difference between the two iterations of Mickey – that is, how well the characters are developed in this largely character-driven story.
The support characters are all fascinating and unique. They are developed just as well as Mickey because we see them through his eyes, and I loved that about them.
What I Wish:
The only thing I had trouble with from time to time was when the story became very detailed with technical information. It added authenticity to the story and made it easy to suspend disbelief, but I can’t say that I genuinely followed and understood what I was reading. So if I had to wish something, it would be that the technical aspects had either been shorter or been at least partially explained in a way that a non-science/technology person could understand.
To Read or Not to Read:
If you are looking for a sci-fi thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat and have you reflecting on what survival means to you, Micky 7 is just what you are looking for.