October 9, 2018

Review: Medusa Uploaded

Medusa Uploaded Medusa Uploaded by Emily Devenport
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book straddles, in some ways successfully and others not, several different sub-genres in the wide field of science fiction and space opera. It's a generation ship saga, set aboard the enormous Olympia, a ship several miles long and wide, holding over two hundred thousand people and spinning to create its own pseudo-gravity. It's a slice of cyberpunk, complete with a complex virtual reality and uploaded VR "ghosts" of deceased people (who end up not being what they seem). It's a first contact story, as the "Graveyard" towards which the Olympia is headed apparently holds thousands of self-aware alien ships. But mostly, it's the tale of a bitter and deadly class struggle, with the protagonist, the lower-class "worm" and Servant Oichi Angelis, out to take her revenge upon the ruling Executive clans who sabotaged and blew up the Olympia's sister ship, the Titania, with Oichi's parents on board.

There's a few more layers to the plot than that, but there's enough cold-blooded murder and sociopathic mayhem throughout to make me wonder if the author based this book on one of the periodic historical revolutions that sweep humanity. Oichi herself is an uneasy, not very likable protagonist, who freely admits to being a serial killer without regrets. She ends up powering a revolution that frees the Olympia from the tyranny of the Executive clans, but it's very much an end-justifies-the-means sort of thing, with plenty of bloodshed. Meanwhile, the mystery of the Olympia's origin (and the people on board her) is partly revealed, as well as why they're going to the Graveyard and what they expect to find there.

As you can see, there's a lot going on here, and not all of it meshes successfully. I don't think the author has made up her mind what she wants this book to be, and the rather fragmented and jumpy writing style reflects that. There's a lot to like about the world, particularly the pairing of selected people on board Olympia with the Medusa AI units (which are self-aware, Lovecraftian, tentacled space suits) and the relationships developed. Hopefully in future installments, Emily Devenport picks one thing or the other, settles down, and writes a more straightforward narrative.

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