Book Review: Antimatter Blues 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.

Antimatter Blues by Edward Ashton

Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: Book 2 of Mickey7

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press (March 14, 2023)

Length: 304 pages

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Coming on the heels of Mickey7 is the sequel Antimatter Blues, which is as off-the-hook and irreverent as its predecessor. If you liked the first book, I think you will find this follow-up just as good, and in some respects even better.

Approximately two years have passed since Mickey Barnes’ retirement. The former Expendable has said no more to dying—which had been his only purpose on their colony’s expedition to settle the icy planet of Niflheim. Mickey was the one they sent in every time a mission got too dangerous, because if he died, they’d just clone another copy of him and download his consciousness into the new body with his memories mostly intact. This happened over and over, until the seventh iteration, who’d had enough, decided to do something about it.

If you aren’t caught up with the series yet, avert thine eyes because here be spoilers for the first book. Antimatter Blues begins with Mickey7 alive and well, enjoying life as just another colonist. He has a girlfriend and works as a general laborer, spending his days cleaning out rabbit hutches. Compared to his old job, this was heaven, and it’s all because Commander Marshall, the colony’s leader, believes that Mickey had given an antimatter bomb to the creepers, the alien creatures that share the planet. Mickey had convinced Marshall that he and he alone had the power to tell the creepers not to activate the bomb, when in reality, all he did was bury it in a nearby hole.

It would have been a good plan, with none the wiser, except now, winter is coming to Niflheim. The antimatter used to fuel the colony is running low, and Marshall is desperate to get the bomb back so they can replenish their stores, going as far as to swallow his pride and make a deal with Mickey. But can Marshall be trusted? If Mickey gave up the bomb, there would be nothing to keep him from being forced to be an Expendable again, but if he didn’t, the whole colony was going to freeze to death. Turns out, in the end, none of it even matters. Mickey goes back to the site of where he’d hidden the bomb to check on it, only to find it…gone. With the whereabouts of the bomb a mystery, and an entire colony on the brink of extinction, Mickey’s just realized that perhaps burying a weapon of mass destruction in a random icefield wasn’t such a good idea after all, oops!

Here’s the thing—Mickey’s kind of an asshole. He’s also always doing things—stupid, dangerous, crazy things—without thinking them through. In that sense, not much has changed from the first book, because despite getting a chance at a fresh start, there has been little in terms of personal growth. That being said, if you came to this book from Mickey7, you’re probably already familiar with the protagonist’s personality and presumably enjoyed it. In that case, you’re in luck. Mickey is as snarky and reckless as ever, leading to some spectacularly disastrous results when he finds himself playing diplomatic liaison between the human settlers and the bug-like alien creepers.

Speaking of which, one of my favorite things of Antimatter Blues was its focus on the creepers and their fascinating society. This element, which was barely touched upon in the first book, has become a prominent part of the plot in this sequel. Here, too, the author has managed to inject a lot of humor into the situation, as evidenced by Speaker, the creeper who has taken on the task of dealing with Mickey and the colonists.

Then there was the plot. Looking back, Mickey7 was a lot of fun to read, but it was admittedly built upon a rather simplistic idea, and a gimmicky one at that. While the sequel may not be a bastion of literary genius either, the story is decidedly more complex with more action and thrills. Still, if you can, I would recommend reading the two books back-to-back. Antimatter Blues was the more entertaining novel for me, and theoretically you can read it as a standalone, but you would also be missing out on a lot of context from the first book, which even Mickey’s constant attempts to fill new readers in will not be sufficient enough to provide.

So, if you’re looking for a light sci-fi read that’s fast-paced and fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously, this series might just do the trick.

More on The BiblioSantum:
Review of Mickey7 (Book 1)

14 Comments on “Book Review: Antimatter Blues by Edward Ashton”

  1. Asshole main character, no matter how delightful, means an auto-pass from me. I can’t drive anymore without someone being a total asshole and putting others in danger, so there is no way I want that in my fictional escapist time.


    • I can see that. I remember how on another book review, you commented the realism and appropriateness of the main character feeling traumatized by the process of dying and coming back to life over and over. Mickey is the opposite, he’s traumatized in his own way, but his flippant asshole act about it appears to be more for the sake of adding humor to the series.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Mickey 7 is placed quite high on my “want to read” list, and I like your description of the character who sounds like the perfect anti-hero ;-). And I will keep in mind your recommendation about reading both books as a single volume.
    Thanks for sharing!


  3. I’m always a mix of nervous and excited when I hear about a sequel to a book I really enjoyed. So I’m very happy to see how much you enjoyed this one. I look forward to trying it myself. It’s great having these lighter reads to mix in with all the rest.


  4. Pingback: Bookshelf Roundup 04/16/23: Stacking the Shelves & Recent Reads | The BiblioSanctum

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