Mickey Barnes, once an expendable, is now just another colonist on the remote world of Niflheim. The colony commander, Marshall, believes that creepy neighbors are currently holding on to one of their own antimatter bombs and Mickey, with his odd and unique ability to communicate with the creepers, is the only one keeping them from blowing the planet to pieces.
But winter is coming on and the colony is slowly running out of provisions. One of the biggest needs will be heat and Commander Marshall is planning to drain the energy from the antimatter bomb to use as a heat source. But the bomb is in enemy hands. Mickey is offered his freedom from service once and for all, but first he has to retrieve that bomb before the Creepers blow Niflheim to pieces. There’s a problem though … the Creepers don’t have it any more. They gave it to their enemies.
The Humans on Niflhem are wary of the Creepers, at best, scared of them often. Now Barnes must walk into the home of the creatures that scare the Creepers and ask them to please give the newcomers – the Humans – their bomb back. Yeah, this should be easy, right?
When I read this I wasn’t aware that this was the second book in a series, and I did feel that there was some information that was missing very early on in the book, but nothing so serious that I couldn’t enjoy this book. I do, however, want to get a copy of the first book because I’m quite curious to know more about Mickey and the planet Niflheim.
The book is a straight-up, single-story, part action, part military scifi space opera. Some very alien aliens (although, to be fair, on this world the humans are the aliens) have something that a) they don’t know what it is, and b) don’t know how dangerous it is, and c) don’t know how to use it, which means d) could trigger it quite accidentally.
There’s been a very tenuous détente between the Creepers and the humans and if the Creepers were to blow themselves up with the human bomb, well, it could ruin their Cold War-like relationship.
Mickey’s personality is somewhat perversely morose, but his morality is such that he doesn’t give up and he’s willing to bear the weight and responsibility for getting the bomb back to the colony. It is this morality which drives the story and keeps the reader interested. Other than being able to communicate with the aliens (which is the one thing that may have come out of the first novel) and feeling morally responsible, there isn’t much about Barnes that makes him special in any.
There aren’t any sub-plots or side stories or even other POVs. This is straight up one-person action. There’s a hint at something with one of the women in the military outfit he ‘commands’ but it’s so minor it didn’t really need to be in there (but perhaps it will come into play in the next book?).
Author Edward Ashton’s writing is slick and the story moves along nicely. This was an easy and often exciting read. The question mark of ‘What’s going to happen next?’ really kept me turning the pages.
I appreciated that this world was extremely alien and that the humans and native life forms weren’t either already at war or buddy-buddy friends. Even the Barnes/Speaker1 relationship is challenging at best and both individuals learn to adapt and trust in some untrustworthy circumstances.
I look forward to more books in this series.
Looking for a good book? Antimatter Blues by Edward Ashton is a military space opera full of energy and action and is a fun read.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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author: Edward Ashton
series: Mickey7 #2
publisher: St. Martin’s Press
hardcover, 304 pages