The Executives control Oichi’s senses, her voice, her life. Until the day they kill her.
An executive clan gives the order to shoot Oichi out of an airlock on suspicion of being an insurgent. A sentient AI, a Medusa unit, rescues Oichi and begins to teach her the truth—the Executives are not who they think they are. Oichi, officially dead and now bonded to the Medusa unit, sees a chance to make a better life for everyone on board.
As she sets things right one assassination at a time, Oichi becomes the very insurgent the Executives feared, and in the process uncovers the shocking truth behind the generation starship that is their home.
Medusa Uploaded is a rather uniquely written generation ship story that takes us on a journey of revenge and rebellion.
I find this book a bit difficult to summarize as it’s such an odd experience both in how it is written and it’s overall tone. Medusa Uploaded is a book that feels like a light and quick read, but holds quite a bit of depth and takes a closer look at a wide range of socio-political issues. I never expected to get into a book that handles so many issues at once, especially in such a relatively ‘short’ novel. We see disparages in class rights, women’s reproductive rights, who has the right to what your children have access to, the need for arts and equal education, the cycle of abuse and how turning a blind eye to it causes the cycle to grow, and even ageism. It’s not a dense or preachy novel either, all of this is present in ways that flow into the story naturally and make Oichi’s journey to turning the culture of the ship upside down more realistic. We see her atypical revenge story broaden and expand into something less singular in goal. It becomes more complicated and more inclusive, and as a result, we see Oichi grow tenfold as a person as she grapples with issues she didn’t realize existed.
The tone of the novel surprisingly upbeat overall. There are moments that hit you hard but Oichi’s drive and her group of friends really balance out those dark moments with their comradery and shared interested. I wasn’t entirely on board with the point of view used in the book, it made me feel somewhat detached from the story itself as it does gloss over the finer details. However, it does flow naturally for someone’s thought process and after some time I found myself really invested and enjoying it regardless of that fact. It also lends more time to get to know Oichi on a deeply personal level. I personally really like her. She is calculating and driven, but she isn’t cold and unfeeling. She adores music and forms incredibly friendships with her AI suit Medusa as well as with other passengers she shares her secret plans with. I don’t want to name names due to its sort of beginning spoiler-y but I seriously adored her unique bond with each of these people, and how vibrant and different they all were.
In addition to the incredible cast of characters and the issue based plot, we are treated to a high level of focus on the arts. Oichi loves music and lives her life with a constant soundtrack in her head, and she shares those musical choices with the reader. Later we meet a character who believes in saving film and we are treated to a wide range of classic movies as well. As someone who adores discovering new music and movies this was right up my alley, and I ended up making a list of all of the films and songs mentioned.
Overall I really enjoyed Medusa Uploaded. It took a little time for me to sink into it because of the odd style and focus, but in the end, it became a book I really didn’t want to put down. I’m looking forward to the second book, a companion novel, and can’t wait to see what has become of the ship and it’s inhabitants as it draws nearer to its destination.