Mickey Barnes NEEDS to get off Midgard, the colony planet on which he has lived his entire life. Because staying on Midgard is not an option, he takes the only avenue open to him: he volunteers to be the “expendable” on Midgard’s first outgoing colony ship, the Drakkar. An “expendable” is the member of the crew designated as expendable for dangerous, difficult, and/or terminal activities. The body of the expendable is scanned and their memories are copied, allowing for the expendable to be duplicated, with all but their most recent memories intact, when needed.
Dying isn’t easy or fun, but it is what Mickey signed up to do to be part of the Drakkar’s crew. On their way to Niflheim, Mickey is killed several times and instantly regenerated. He remembers exactly how each time felt and wants to avoid repeating the experience as much as possible, despite it being his actual purpose for being there. Now Mickey7 finds himself at the bottom of a crevasse. He is injured, but doesn’t believe fatally. This is in sharp contrast to the opinion held by the pilot that should rescue him, but he doesn’t. He leaves Mickey7 behind and reports back to the colony. When Mickey7 makes it back to the colony, he is shocked to find Mickey8 in his quarters. Mickey7 was reported dead and his replacement was created with no hesitation. Multiples of expendables are forbidden and considered a capital offense. Mickey7 doesn’t want to die again. Neither does Mickey8. How long can they keep this a secret and which one of them will have to die when they are found out?
In Mickey7, Edward Ashton provides an interesting and enjoyable exploration of the ethical and philosophical issues regarding several science fiction, and fantasy for that matter, staples. Teleportation, transporters, and other types of speculative fiction technologies and magic all propose that, if you are able to move or regenerate across distances or times, that you are the same being on both sides. But are you? Ashton provides arguments for both sides of the argument, even providing an example from Greek mythology that examines the same questions being asked by Mickey7, especially now that Mickey8 is sharing his quarters.
Ashton also examines issues like colonialism and capitalism with the same light, but incisive, touch. Long after they have finished the last page of this enjoyable book, readers will be pondering questions for which there are no quick or easy answers.
In a recent interview, Edward Ashton might give readers some insights into the book and his creative process.