Mickey7 – Edward Ashton
Colonizing new planets is dangerous, that’s why you need an expendable, a person that takes on all the jobs where there’s a big chance that you’ll end up dead. Because if an expendable dies, you just print a new one and upload the memories of the old iteration into the new one.
Mickey7 is, obviously, the seventh iteration of Mickey, the expendable on the colonizing mission on the ice world Niflheim. When Mickey7 is out on a recognizance mission he falls down a deep hole and is left to die. But, with some help, he manages to find his way out, and is able to return to the base. The problem is, being presumed dead, the colony has already printed Mickey8. The other problem, being a copy is among the worst things that one could be, and if anyone finds out, one of the Mickeys are going to be recycled.
A large part of the story revolves around the everyday life in the small colony, with Mickey7 and Mickey8 sneaking around trying to hide that there’s two of them. This is hard, as it’s a small colony and that the calorie-intake is already rationed and controlled, and now they have to split that. Interacting with girlfriend, friend and other colonists while keeping track of everything is a hustle, and on top of that the colony is being attacked by so called creepers.
The novel wants to explore the concept of the Ship of Theseus in the sense that it ponders the question if Mickey7 (and 8) is the same person as original Mickey. Is it different to be replaces all at once as compared to slowly replacing the cells in the human body, as is happening to all humans. It’s an interesting concept, and it’s explained in large parts through Mickey explaining the recruiting process he went through. The novel also gives us some look-backs explaining the universe in large, but a large part of the book is focused on life in the colony.
I would have liked to see a little exploration of some other aspects, for example the question of jealousy when sharing a girlfriend with a copy of oneself, which is only brushed upon here. There’s also an interesting aspect of the outside threat to the colony that is only being briefly explored, but in my opinion could have added an interesting layer in the story if explored more thoroughly. I don’t want to spoil too much of the story by going into it, but more could have been added in that regard. As of now, the story becomes a little bit one-dimensional.
The novel has some really interesting foundations that works well in the world-building, but it could have been explored more fully to make the story more rich. As of now, it feels like it lands somewhere in between a short-story and a novel, and there’s definitively material to get a really good novel out of it. It falls a little bit short, although it was a fairly entertaining read. I gave this novel a 3 out of 5 on Goodreads.