Publisher: Tor Books
Page Count: 316
Release Date: May 1st, 2018
Series: THE MEDUSA CYCLE, Book 1
Rating: 3/5 Stars – Liked It
Oichi is a Servant aboard one of two generational ships, intergalactic transports halfway into a two century voyage to a new homeworld for her people. She is facing a lifetime of serving the Executive class on her ship the OLYMPIA when sister ship TITANIA explodes under mysterious circumstances, killing Oichi’s parents in the process. Shortly thereafter, Oichi is shoved out an airlock in a secret execution, only to be rescued by Medusa, an AI in a robotic construct that consists of tentacle appendages, a mask, and a pressure suit to allow a human to wear the Medusa unit to better “interface and collaborate.” Medusa is just one secret hiding upon OLYMPIA, and together, Oichi and Medusa will puzzle them out and discover why anyone would want to kill Oichi or the souls on TITANIA – and Oichi will have answers no matter how many bodies she leaves in her wake.
MEDUSA UPLOADED is an intriguing sci-fi mystery that fumbles the opening, leaving the story to work uphill against my confusion. After a contemplative prologue, chapter one starts in media res for an extended scene, before jumping back in time. I’m not against being thrown into the deep end of a world, but with so much introduced without any kind of context, at so many points in Oichi’s life that it took me a while to understand what was motivating her and at what points certain events happened. It made the first third of the book an unnecessary struggle rather than inviting me into the mystery.
The book does eventually find its feet, and from there becomes much more of a cat-and-mouse mystery set in a sci-fi “court drama,” for lack of a better phrase. The upper Executive class is made of several ruling families, all jockeying for power, and Oichi takes on several personas to infiltrate and manipulate, while also trying to unpack who is really calling the shots on the ship. Helping Oichi is Medusa and her sister units, who gradually get paired with other humans who join Oichi’s network. This bonding is one of the best parts of the book, as a family of AIs and humans work together. It also offsets the fact that Oichi may be a certifiable sociopath, casually killing if someone is a hindrance or if it will aid her goal. Oichi knows what she is, she admits it from the first page, but it is still somewhat chilling to see her execute someone who saw her at the wrong moment.
At the end of the tale, MEDUSA UPLOADED asks many more questions than it answers. This is the kind of story arc where book two is going to have a large impact in how I regard MEDUSA UPLOADED in the future. If the sequel finally starts explaining the overall mysteries in a satisfactory manner, there’s a lot more in book one that can be excused as part of overall setup. I did start to enjoy the world being created, and if further books can successfully expand upon that, then this will have been a series worth reading.