Altered Carbon meets the Expanse in this zombies-in-space sci-fi thriller
The Expanse meets Altered Carbon in this breakneck science fiction thriller where immortality is theoretically achievable, yet identity, gender and selfhood are very much in jeopardy…
Carter Langston is murdered whilst salvaging a derelict vessel–a major inconvenience as he’s downloaded into a brand-new body on the space station where he backed up, several weeks’ journey away. But events quickly slip out of control when an assassin breaks into the medbay and tries to finish the job.
Death no longer holds sway over a humanity that has spread across the solar system: consciousness can be placed in a new body, or coil, straight after death, giving people the potential for immortality. Yet Carter’s backups–supposedly secure–have been damaged, his crew are missing, and everything points back to the derelict that should have been a simple salvage mission.
With enemies in hot pursuit, Carter tracks down his last crewmate–re-coiled after death into a body she cannot stand–to delve deeper into a mystery that threatens humanity and identity as they have come to know it.
This is described as Altered Carbon meets the Expanse, both are shows that I adore and admittedly I did find it a little difficult to not see this as Altered Carbon at the start but as I got into the story I appreciated the differences and this is a beautifully written, albeit gory space-zombie thriller.
***Minor spoilers ahead***
Carter is a protagonist of this space adventure and he works as part of a salvage crew from the Perseophone in the far reaches of space. Carter is the go-to guy to get onto difficult scrap ships – especially ones that are rotating and moving towards a sun and will soon be dust. After getting on-board his latest scrap ship, he discovers that things aren’t quite right. There’s a body in the airlock and the body has suffered catastrophic decompression and the effects of space and the description alone is something to behold! The strangeness doesn’t end there though as within the ship are more bodies but these ones just look like they are asleep, or are they? Carter ends up coming across a zombie coil, which is unheard of. People can’t survive in those conditions yet here he is, fighting for his life against this ‘zombie’. Realisation sets in and Carter realises he’s dust. He can’t get hold of his ship and instead tries to send out a message to his soon-to-be-newly-coiled-self of this discovery. Clearly these zombie coils are wrong and someone is playing a dangerous game.
A short time later, we are back with Carter in a new ‘coil’. Coils are bodies and the essence of who you are exists in a small cube which is located in the back of your neck. As with AC new coils need an adjustment period to ensure that everything is working correctly and that you’re not sick. Also to note that you can be re-coiled into ANY body, be it a man or a woman. The only exception to this I noted was that they don’t re-coil anyone into bodies younger than 16.
The Carter that awakes was backed up weeks before his mission and as such, he has no memories of what happened to his past branch, only that he died. There was an issue with his backup in that it was corrupted but they managed to fix it/him with no lasting damage.
Carter is left to adjust to his coil and as he’s doing that, someone else arrives into his room. This person tries to kill him, it’s a fight for survival and he manages to escape. Now knowing that something is wrong, he sets out to find his crew in their newly coiled bodies and to find out why someone is trying to kill him. Knowing he must have discovered something in his past branch, he has a mission ahead of him.
I love the action in this book, the cleverness of the other characters from Carter’s crew such as Shay. Poor Shay was re-coiled into the body of a man, something she is accustomed to and struggles with throughout the book. She is super clever and a tech wiz. Each coiled person has an ‘agent’ who is wired into them and is almost like another consciousness who you can talk to, search things, analyse documents and hack into things. Not too far off a health monitor crossed with an Alexa in your head.
I appreciated that travelling in space is no quick thing as it appears in other sci-fi books, it takes weeks to reach some places which is explained in the book as well as subtle references to the dynamics and physics of how everything operates in this world.
Nicholas has found a nice little niche with this story, the characters are rich and I love the dryness of a certain character who is introduced later in the story and someone I feel will play a big part in future books.
The ending was a surprise and it opens itself nicely for a sequel. Overall, Nicholas has really surprised me with this book and I love sci-fi, space action. I really recommend it if you are indeed, a fan of Altered Carbon and the Expanse. Re-Coil has good company.
Massive thank you to Sarah Mather at Titan Books for sending me a copy of this book!