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Antimatter blues
Where is it?
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Library Journal Review
Mickey Barnes, once the colony's Expendable Mickey7, retired from service on a lie. Now that the beleaguered colony is running out of fuel, he's stuck making that lie good, only to discover that the antimatter bomb he carefully hid under a rock pile was found by the native inhabitants and traded to their enemies--in the hopes said enemies would either leave them alone or blow themselves up. Which puts Mickey back in the expendable seat, leading a band of equally misfit crew members on a trek to either find the power source, start a war, or tell another really, really big lie. Or possibly all of the above. Readers who enjoy the nitty-gritty view of space colonization of John Scalzi or Michael Mammay will love this every bit as much as Mickey7. Through Mickey's own eyes, readers experience just how hard the knife edge between success and failure is, as he and his crew set out on a deadly adventure with a very questionable ally to save somebody's day. Possibly their own. VERDICT A nonstop SF adventure from beginning to end.--Marlene Harris
Publishers Weekly Review
In the 1,000 years since humanity dispersed into Ashton's vibrant vision of far-future space, none of the limited contact between humans and aliens has ended well, but now retired expendable Mickey must cozy up to the Nifleim colony's native "creepers" to retrieve an antimatter bomb that was lost in the previous novel, Mickey7. As an Expendable, Mickey's died and come back six times already, but now he feels his life is precious. He's got Nasha, a feisty recon pilot, to snuggle with; a job cleaning the hungry colony's rabbit hutches; and a daredevil friend, Berto, he doesn't want to lose. Still, when duty calls via vengeful colony commander Marshall, he's off on a series of free-wheeling adventures among two sets of warring creepers to get that bomb back. If he fails, there'll be no coming back this time. Ashton's breezy characters, especially a few alien creepers able to communicate with the humans, delight, and the grungy details of colony life are rendered as realistically as Mickey's hunger pangs. It's good fun with a surprisingly effective closing twist that sci-fi fans will savor. (Mar.)
Booklist Review
It's summer on Niflheim, and Mickey7 is retired from being the colony's Expendable. He's spent the last two years helping tend the rabbits. Then one day, he sees himself heading toward the reactor core. Turns out there's not enough fuel to last through the next winter, and everyone will die unless he can get back the antimatter bomb Marshall thinks he left with the creepers. But how does he know Marshall is telling the truth? Maybe it's a ploy to finally get rid of him. Ashton's follow-up to his excellent Mickey7 (2022) is just as much fun as its predecessor. Readers get to see more aspects of colony life, and Ashton introduces nuances to the creepers while showing us more of their world. The Speaker is a delightful new character, offering an entertaining look at the challenges of communication and mutual comprehension. As in Mickey7, there's substance behind the humor. At the core of this story are questions of trust and responsibility--what do you do when saving the world means you must betray an ally?

Edward Ashton's Antimatter Blues is the thrilling follow up to Mickey7 in which an expendable heads out to explore new terrain for human habitation.

Summer has come to Niflheim. The lichens are growing, the six-winged bat-things are chirping, and much to his own surprise, Mickey Barnes is still alive--that last part thanks almost entirely to the fact that Commander Marshall believes that the colony's creeper neighbors are holding an antimatter bomb, and that Mickey is the only one who's keeping them from using it. Mickey's just another colonist now. Instead of cleaning out the reactor core, he spends his time these days cleaning out the rabbit hutches. It's not a bad life.

It's not going to last.

It may be sunny now, but winter is coming. The antimatter that fuels the colony is running low, and Marshall wants his bomb back. If Mickey agrees to retrieve it, he'll be giving up the only thing that's kept his head off of the chopping block. If he refuses, he might doom the entire colony. Meanwhile, the creepers have their own worries, and they're not going to surrender the bomb without getting something in return. Once again, Mickey finds the fate of two species resting in his hands. If something goes wrong this time, though, he won't be coming back.

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