Medusa Uploaded, by Emily Devenport
Rating: A page turner, but anticlimactic
Oichi Angelis is a slave worker aboard a generation ship, whose parents died when the ruling class destroyed the sister generation ship. Her parents belonged to an underground insurgent group who had been working on a neural implant with hidden code that would allow the working class to rebel. Her implant allows her to bond with a sentient mecha suit, called a Medusa, which each inhabitant of the ship is intended to pair with. She begins killing select targets and recruiting others to her cause, but soon discovers that she is merely a pawn in a much larger game. The generation ship’s inhabitants are all genetically modified hybrids between humans and ancient, sentient graveyard ships who inhabit the generation ship’s destination, and the humans who created the generation ship intended to use the medusas to create super soldiers who could enter the graveyard planet and return with advanced ancient weapons technology. Along the way, Oichi learns that there is great nuance to her stratified society, and after succeeding in her insurgent plans, she defeats both the aristocrats and their human creators, bringing her people to the graveyard promised land on their own terms.
We are first introduced to Oichi’s kills as revenge for sexual assault commited against her, as a body-modded servant designed to be beautiful and emotionless towards the aristocrats. Further atrocities come to show that the rulers of the generation ship are self absorbed and desire a tight authoritarian control over the rest of the ship, including the lower aristocracy. Although this plot thread is wrapped up by the end of the story, its meaning is overshadowed by the much less meaningful plot that the aristocrats themselves are the pawns of outside, unknown aliens.
What is a seemingly interesting book about sexual violence, cyberpunk futures, and diluted marxism, is ruined by the fact that this book is the first in a series. The ending arrives through deus ex machina, and didn’t feel very interesting. It’s truly a shame when writers like Devenport don’t consider their books to be independent stories, and end them accordingly. She could have easily kept the plotline of the graveyard aliens less fleshed out, to be expounded in the sequel, and devoted more attention to a solid resolution to this novel’s cyberpunk revolution.