I think I’m going to find it difficult to describe this book without spoiling the most interesting bits of it.
Activation Degradation is about a biosynthetic robot named Unit Four. It’s tasked with looking after the mining system orbiting Jupiter. However, after a battle with aliens, it is captured and everything it thinks it knows slowly unravels throughout the course of the novel.
There are soooo many interesting concepts in the novel. Which again, if I tell you about them, will totally spoil some of the gruesome / body horror element to the novel. It’s not bad but there are certain revelations that are best to discover yourself to experience the full SQUICK impact of them. I wouldn’t want to cheat any one out of discovering / realising themselves! I really enjoyed the previous series that the author wrote, so was really pleased that this one was equally excellent.
What was really great about the story was that all the core issues are revealed slowly, the universe, Unit Four’s existence, humanity, aliens, the whole thing. We’re learning at the pace of Unit Four and slowly having to realign our perceptions of the universe as it starts to understand more. I loved how some concepts, very familiar to sci-fi, were inverted. Basic things like robots and ships and people.
I also enjoyed the naiveté of Unit Four, given that it was created the day it had to go do battle with the aliens. It just doesn’t know much, other than the mining station, from the previous iterations of its existence. It has to discover so much, which makes it really endearing as a main character.
The novel is also also just so easy to read. I read about two-thirds of it in one sitting, and then had to wait all day to finish work to polish it off. It was efficient in the way I like stories, that all bits of dialogue or diversion will inevitable serve a purpose somewhere. There aren’t huge digressions that don’t either progress the plot or the character growth.
If you’re looking for a nice, solid science fiction story, I totally recommend this novel.