By Edward Ashton

Mickey7, a novel by Edward Ashton
Book details

If I lived in a Star Trek universe I would always travel by shuttlecraft and refuse to use the transporter. I am just uneasy with the idea of being split into atoms and reformed elsewhere. I am, for all intents and purposes, the same person, with the same memories, but am I? Is it not true that one version of me has been vapourised at one end and replaced at the other? Mickey7 knows all about this philosophical debate, but for him it is no brain exercise. He is an Expendable, a human whose job it is to undertake deadly missions in the knowledge that they will be cloned anew afterwards. As his name suggests, Mickey is currently on version number 7 and death is not getting any easier. 

The planet of Nifheim is an unhospitable place, just within the Goldilocks Zone required for human life. The colonists booked a one-way ticket so must make do with the icy wasteland. They have Mickey to help; need to check for deadly viruses – get Mickey. Radioactive core needs refitting – Mickey is the man. Giant ice fissures full of razor toothed indigenous creatures – you get the idea. Mickey7 is getting bored of dying and when he is assumed dead a little too early, he finds himself meeting familiar looking person. 

For a book about a man who dies at least six times, Mickey7 by Edward Ashton is one of the funniest I have read in a long while. This is a dark and sardonic style of wit. Mickey’s only crime seemed to be that he wanted to be a historian and on the future colonies that skill is deemed useless. Therefore, after some stupid bets he finds himself as an Expendable with none of the skills required to cope. Mickey feels like a man out of time, a scholar of humanities in a universe that has finally crushed the arts.  

The main plot follows Mickey7 as he returns to a world that contains Mickey8. How will the two co-exist? Will they even be allowed to, or will one or both be fed into the carbon recycler? The book is so amusing because Mickey has a very lackadaisical attitude to problems and two of them do not really help. Mickey seems to go through life with no foresight, hence his current role as an Expendable, a post that no one on an entire planet wanted. 

The rest of the story is told in flashbacks as we discover the fate of Mickey1 through 6. Ashton uses these segments to world build. You get a real sense of a human race that is constantly establishing new colonies and then sending out more people. There are also intelligent philosophical issues as well as the humour. Some of the crew believe that Mickey7 is an abomination and goes against their beliefs. When the Commanding Officer is true believer, you know that Mickey7 is in for a lot of trouble. 

The air of slight incompetence around Mickey7 really makes the book. He has a unique way of viewing life on Nifheim and this rubs people up the wrong way, but may just save everyone’s life, including Mickey7’s. He is starting to be fed up with dying and just wants to live this time. Mickey7 is one of the most enjoyable books I have read and is certainly one of the best science fiction comedies. I would even speak of it in the same sentence as the Red Dwarf novelisation and its sequels. As they are some of my favourite books of all time, that is not a light statement.  

Written on 17th February 2022 by .

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