Against a Dark Background by Iain M. Banks


Okay. This is a sci-fi epic from the late, great Ian M. Banks who brought us the outstanding Culture series. This isn’t one of those, but the style is not all that dissimilar.

Against a Dark Background

Against a Dark Background tells the story of Lady Sharrow: ex-soldier, and current aristocratic who’s fallen on hard times. To make matters worse, a fanatical religious order has put a bounty on her head. To escape the bounty, Sharrow embarks to n a planetary-spanning quest to find an incredibly strange and destructive artefact know as the Lazy Gun.

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Mickey7 by Edward Ashton

I’d call this one a mid-level science-fiction read: not too heavy on the science; there’s enough of it to make you happy that the author knows what’s he’s talking about, but not so much that it gets in the way of a really good story – and this is a very good story.

Meet Mickey Barnes, a history buff raised on the human colony Midgard. Mickey’s a bit of a no- hoper: too lazy to really amount to anything, so he tries gambling. He’s not too good at that either.


So, to escape a life-threatening gambling debt, he signs on for a one-way trip to a distant star, as the mission’s Expendable, and as the colony’s Expendable, Mickey has just one job: to die when he’s asked. The upshot is that after he dies, he’s uploaded mind is transferred to a clone of himself – ready to die again when the colony needs him to.

We join the story at Mickey’s seventh incarnation. Having died from radiation sickness, from being exposed to a poisonous microorganisms, and a parasite that gradually ate his brain, Mickey is starting to get a little tired of the uncomfortable ways he’s required to die …

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