I just finished reading J. T. Nicholas’ Re-coil, a space opera novel. It takes place in the solar system, so it’s not an interstellar story, although there are hints the series might go there eventually. It involves a future where everyone’s mind can be backed up and instantiated in a new body if they die. Bodies are referred to as “coils”, so the title, “re-coil”, refers to being put in a new body. (Not to the kickback of a fired gun, although there is plenty of gunfire in the book.)
Minds are stored in “cores” within the brain of the coil, and can be retrieved if the person dies, but new coils are very expensive. In some ways, the premise resembles Altered Carbon, but with a couple of important differences.
Unlike in AC, backing up a mind, in and of itself, is not that costly, so everyone is able to do it. The expense of the body does mean that normal people can’t re-coil casually. But in this universe, people noticed this was an issue and a business opportunity, so there are insurance policies to provide new coils. However, the premiums are high, and average people have to devote a substantial portion of their income to paying them.
Most can’t afford a policy that gives them exactly the replacement coil they’d like. So they can end up in a very different type of body, including one of the opposite sex. And a low end policy might put someone in a body with defects of one type or another.
Also, being restored to a new coil only includes memories up to the point you were backed up, an important plot point.
As the story starts, Carter Langston is on a salvage team who discover what appears to be an abandoned shuttle heading into the sun. He spacewalks over and enters it. Things go horribly wrong and he never makes it out, with the shuttle being destroyed.
Langston awakes in a re-coil facility, with only memories up to his backup, and with the attendants concerned that his mind might have been corrupted. Shortly afterward, someone tries to assassinate him, and he finds himself on the run, his teammates all missing.
Eventually he discovers a message from his prior self on the derelict shuttle, and realizes that someone is out not only to kill his body, but erase all his backups. Backup storage is supposed to be among the most reliable and secure assets in the solar system, indicating that whoever is after him, they are rich and powerful.
This was a good book, although I can’t say it was a great one. Nicholas has a lot of talent, but it seems like he’s still learning the craft.
In particular, he really seems to enjoy his fight scenes. Throughout most of the book, they are a solid part of the story. But the final act largely becomes a giant sequence of fight scenes. It was thrilling but, for me, verged on tedious. I personally could have seen that final sequence be a bit briefer. That said, I suspect some will eat it up, and it certainly wasn’t bad enough to stop reading.
So, if you’re looking for solid entertaining space opera, it’s worth checking out!