Audiobook Review: Mickey7 by Edward Ashton
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Macmillan Audio (February 15, 2022)
Length: 9 hrs and 16 mins
Narrators: John Pirhalla, Katharine Chin
Mickey7 by Edward Ashton is light-hearted sci-fi romp, with space colonization, alien first contact, and even cloning themes to boot. Nothing really too new or deep to see here, but it’s undeniably entertaining!
The story follows Mickey Barnes, or the seventh iteration of him, to be more precise. He is an Expendable, the one job nobody wants but that every expedition needs, especially when you’re looking to colonize an inhospitable ice planet like Niflheim. Mickey’s job title is exactly what it sounds like—every time there’s a mission too dangerous, they send him in, and if he dies, they’ll simply regenerate a new clone of him, with his memories mostly intact. The reason he’s in this position is because the original Mickey had gotten himself in a bit of trouble on his home planet, and needed a reason to get off-world fast. A history major, he had few marketable skills and the only opening available on the Niflheim expedition was Expendable, a job one only takes willingly if they are crazy or desperate. Mickey was the latter.
But that original Mickey is long gone. The current iteration is Mickey7, which means he’s experienced six deaths—most of them of a violent or gruesome nature. By now he’s well aware of what it means to be Expendable, and how that might influence the way the rest of the crew perceives him. So, he shouldn’t have been surprised when he is left for dead after falling down a deep tunnel during a scouting mission on the planet surface. Only, he manages to survive, but by the time he makes his way back to the colony base, Mickey8 had already been created.
This leads to a predicament. The rules for Expendables are very clear—there can only ever be one version of Mickey in existence; any duplicates must be destroyed. Protocol would require either Mickey7 or Mickey8 to be disposed of in the recycler, but when the time comes, neither could bring himself or make the other go through with it. Risking it all, they decide to carry on in secret. They can continue their duties and social obligations, as long as one of them always remains hidden. However, as the two clones soon find out, pulling this off in a tiny colony isn’t going to be easy, especially when resource usage is carefully monitored and each person’s food intake is individually rationed and tracked.
Long story short, nothing turns out the way they’re supposed to, and Mickey7 ends up being his own best friend and foil. The humor and light-hearted tone of this book was easy to get into and the conversations between the Mickeys were a highlight, as you can imagine. Most colonization sci-fi stories tend to fall on the darker and grimmer side, and though there are parts of Mickey7 that are certainly very brutal and bleak, on the whole I would class this one more as a comedy, but not one that’s overly silly. Needless to say, it was quite the breath of fresh air, to have a book about human settlers on a faraway planet, but the main conflict isn’t at all what you’d expect.
Sure, there’s no great character or plot development, but the premise was fascinating and fun to read about. It even touches upon philosophical themes relating to death and immortality, though never heavy-handedly, keeping it humorous and light. The world-building was intriguing as well, especially the parts surrounding the concept of Expendables and cloning, including technology, history, and religion. And of course, this being a colonization sci-fi novel, it’s about survival. I enjoyed the ice world setting and the challenges it posed for our colonists. Admittedly, I would love to have seen more of Niflheim, but there are still plenty of secrets lurking beneath the planet’s surface that are eventually revealed.
I also had a great time with the audio edition, which I received for review. Narrated by John Pirhalla and Katharine Chin, the story was brilliantly performed and the personalities of the characters came through in the voicework. I would strongly recommend this book!