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 …

This is a hilarious page-turner of tale, that steers clear of the heavy science in favour of fully-fledged out characters that are deeply-flawed (especially Mickey) and harrowing set pieces (Mickey dies in the most unfortunate ways). I genuinely felt for the guy, ending up in a position that was possibly worse than the one he was trying to escape from; at least back on Midgard, he’d only die once.

The environment of the new world is believably harsh for the new settlers, and we get to see the central character grow (a little at least) as he grapples with the reality of his situation. He was offered immortality, but comes to realise that all he’s really getting is a new body with his old memories installed. Is that really immortality? If he can’t tell the difference, then does it really matter.

A deceptively simple story that poses a lot of interesting questions dressed in a very entertaining comedy.

Definitely worth a read.

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