Monday, March 21, 2022


Edward Ashton is the author of the novels Mickey7, Three Days in April, and The End of Ordinary. His short fiction has appeared in venues ranging from the newsletter of an Italian sausage company to Escape Pod, Analog, and Fireside Fiction. He lives in upstate New York in a cabin in the woods (not that Cabin in the Woods) with his wife, a variable number of daughters, and an adorably mopey dog named Max, where he writes—mostly fiction, occasionally fact—under the watchful eyes of a giant woodpecker and a rotating cast of barred owls. In his free time, he enjoys cancer research, teaching quantum physics to sullen graduate students, and whittling.

Ashton applied the Page 69 Test to Mickey7 and reported the following:
The question of whether the Page 69 Test works for Mickey7 is slightly complicated by the fact that there are two different English language editions of the book. In the US edition, page 69 finds my protagonist, Mickey Barnes, learning just exactly how screwed he is. He’s signed on to a one-way expedition to colonize a barely-inhabitable planet and, as he learns here, his commanding officer for the remainder of his natural life is someone who has a visceral hatred of what he is, if not yet of him personally. Moreover, his fellow colonists are pretty clearly not going to be much help, since they assume he must have done something awful back on Midgard to wind up with the job he’s got.

In the UK edition, on the other hand, Mickey has just survived an excruciatingly close brush with death on page 69, and he and his double, Mickey8, are trying to figure out how in the hell they’re going to keep their dual existence a secret in the middle of an overcrowded community of only 175 people, knowing that if they’re discovered it almost certainly means the end of both of them.

In isolation, I’m not sure either one of these really gives a fair representation of the book. The US version lays out the mess that Mickey has gotten himself into pretty well, but it’s not clear to either him or the reader at that point just how bad things are going to get. In the UK version Mickey’s gotten a much better idea on that front. He’s already died six times by then, and he’s just come within a hair’s breadth of being broken down into slurry. You’d probably get a bit of a feel for the gallows humor that gets Mickey through his days from this passage, anyway.

I guess the bottom line for me is that tone and voice are always a big part of my writing, and that’s especially so for Mickey7. Mickey has quite literally the worst job in the universe, and it’s one he knows he’s never going to be able to leave. It would be easy for him to be bitter or to fall into despair, but he doesn’t, and I think that comes through pretty clearly in both these passages. I’m not willing to say page 69 holds any special place in either case, but sure, these pages would probably give a casual browser a fair idea of what they were in for.
Visit Edward Ashton's website.

--Marshal Zeringue