Well, this was a delightful little SciFi romp, and a super quick read. Imagine, if you will, one of the infamous Red Shirts from your favorite SciFi show. Poor guys – they just have to keep recruiting more and more of them as they get killed on away missions. Well, in Mickey’s world, they’ve solved that problem with Expendables. Mickey’s job title with his colony ship is Expendable: he gets the worst, most dangerous jobs. And when he dies (he’s on his seventh iteration as the book begins), they just…grow a new clone body and implant his neural scan, and voila! New Mickey. Just why someone would sign up for this job is a question that comes up again and again, and teasing out Mickey’s backstory is a running theme through the book.
In the present, however, Mickey7 is in trouble. He is injured on a scouting mission for the new colony beachhead, and left for dead. It’s what you do with an expendable! But when Mickey7 survives, and makes his way back to the base, he finds Mickey8 waiting, which is A Big Problem.
It’s impressive that this little book manages to cover as much ground as it does. We have a galactic diaspora; near-light technology allows far-flung colonies, but we’re still talking years aboard colony ships, not Warp Speed Ahead. We’ve got colonization of new worlds and what that might look like – from new species to new soil and atmosphere chemistry. And we’ve also got a pretty philosophical examination of the whole concept of Expendables, and an ongoing call back to the Ship of Theseus.
This was a super entertaining read, managing to keep the plot well above the river of philosophy and science running underneath. Highly recommend!