Title: The Freeze-Frame Revolution
Author(s): Peter Watts
Series: Sunflower Cycle
Genre: Science Fiction
Published: June 12th 2018 by Tachyon Publications
Purchase: Publisher | Amazon
LGBTQAI+: nonbinary and mlm side characters
Sex on page: No
I received an ARC through through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
She believed in the mission with all her heart.
But that was sixty million years ago.
How do you stage a mutiny when you’re only awake one day in a million? How do you conspire when your tiny handful of potential allies changes with each shift? How do you engage an enemy that never sleeps, that sees through your eyes and hears through your ears and relentlessly, honestly, only wants what best for you?
Sunday Ahzmundin is about to find out.
“I’ll kill you if I can.”
“I’ll save you, if you let me.”
My rating: 4 stars
Let me start with this: if you love science fiction that really goes into the science aspect and has long descriptions about objects and happenings in space, and also you love stories about artificial intelligence, this story is for you. Personally, I found myself scrolling through a lot of the heavy science because it really wasn’t working for me, but I still managed to enjoy this book immensely.
As you can see from the blurb, Sunday is one of thousands of people on a mission in space that has been going on for sixty million years. The reason why the crew is still alive after so long is that they spend most of it frozen, only waking up for a few days at a time if the ship’s artificial intelligence, the Chimp requires human input on a particular issue.
From then, you can probably guess what happens, and also it’s pretty much described in the blurb, so I’m not telling you a big secret: the humans end up disagreeing with the AI and decide to overthrow it. That’s the story in a nutshell, and yet the execution is so interesting that you’ll want to read this book anyway.
Personally, it was the relationships that really sold this book to me, especially the relationship between the main character and the Chimp. It would be easy to say that the two of them have a close friendship in the book, but of course, it’s much more complicated than that. And yet, even towards the end, they have this hope that they can work things out and save each other. I can’t even adequately describe their relationship, but it was definitely my favourite thing in the book. From the significance of dancing to the way Sunday keeps alternating between calling the Chimp “him” and “it”, it’s a wonderfully complicated relationship.
I also loved the little details, like people who started out the same age aging differently based on how much time they spend outside their “crypts”.
Another interesting thing is that there are little clues throughout the book which tell you that what you are reading is actually the events of the past, told by Sunday at a point in the future – which makes you really wonder about what the hell is going on in the time when Sunday is telling the story. I admit that I’m not sure how to feel about the ending twist – my first reaction was to be disappointment, and to feel like it was kind of a cheap revelation that I would have preferred the story without.
Ultimately, while this story isn’t going on my favourites shelf (because of the ending and the too much science – both completely subjective factors), I enjoyed reading it and I really recommend it to everyone who likes stories about artificial intelligence.
(Note on the LGBTQAI+ rep: There is very little focus on romantic orientation in the book – two male side characters are said to be in a sexual relationship, but they barely appear together after that. There is one sentence that suggests that the main character may be interested in women as well at least sexually, but I’m not sure I interpreted it correctly. And there is one nonbinary side character with se/hir pronouns.)