by J.T. Nicholas

It seemed too much of a good opportunity to pass up when Abi mentioned that she had been contacted about this book. The opening line describes the book as “The Expanse meets Altered Carbon”, the latter being one of the most interesting sci-fi shows I have watched in recent years.

For those unfamiliar with the show, one of the core structure points of the world is that human consciousness is stored in, essentially, memory cards called stacks, found in the base of the skull. This means that even after the death of one’s sleeve, your stack can be put into a new body and you can live on, theoretically forever, providing you have the resources and your stack is not damaged in the process.

Re-Coil has you follow Carter Langston, a salvage expert on a mission aboard a derelict space ship drifting through space. After being murdered by unexpectantly animated corpses, he awakes in a new body to discover that his backups, supposedly stored in the most secure of servers, have been messed with and is quickly defending himself from an assassin sent to destroy his core forever.

To say the story starts thrown in at the deep end is an understatement, but the pace is managed incredibly well. When dealing with trivial matters such as traversing space stations and planets, it would be easy to force the character development into filler material. Instead, the author chooses a less-is-more approach to background information on characters and instead concentrates on filling in the reader on the salient parts of the world-building.

In the world of Re-Coil, humankind has developed technologies sufficient to not only travel our solar system but to also inhabit other planets and create a number of space stations for habitation. Additionally, humans have developed to have a ‘core’ (again, found in the neck) which acts as a memory store of your current branch of life. Additionally, every human pays some level of an insurance premium for the ability to be ‘re-coiled’ into a new body, restored to your latest backup.

Truth be told, I had pretty high hopes for this book. Perhaps higher than I should have for an author I was not personally familiar with. But I am pleased to say that it largely met these. As mentioned above, J.T. Nicholas makes a shrewd decision to not go overly in-depth on character backgrounds. In large part, these are often unnecessary to actual progress the story and, in this instance, allowed the opportunity for natural character discovery in real-time as the story progressed.

The action was generally well written as well, with J.T. Nicholas walking the fine line between building excitement and drama with detail but not quite becoming stage directions or only decipherable by those with an unhealthy obsession with martial arts.

If I had to be particularly picky about anything in the book, it did on occasion repeat itself in terms of detailing the developments made by humankind in this world. The notion of insurance premiums, their costs and how these differed between the average person and the mega-wealthy was discussed a half a dozen times with little difference between each occasion and these were the rare occasion in which I started to drift out of a world that I was otherwise invested in. Still, again, the pacing of the book was otherwise excellent and I struggled to put it down and get on with the other tasks I must do here in the real world, and that is always a positive sign.

We were provided Re-Coil for review by Titan Books, and would like to thank them for supplying an advanced reader copy. If Re-Coil sounds like a book you might be interested in, you can bag your self a copy from most good book stores (support your local bricks and mortar stores!), or via the Amazin affiliate link below: