Freeze Frame Revolution is a 2018 science-fiction novel by marine biologist turned author Peter Watts. It tells the multi-million year epic of the crew of thirty thousand aboard the miles long star ship Eriophora. It's making a lazy circuit around and around and around the Milky Way dropping off a Wormhole at each star as it passes. The brain of the ship is an AI named Chimp. Dedicated, reliable, and stupid; Chimp was built with the singular all consuming goal of being a ship that lays down worm holes. Its name is a reference to its intended intelligence, smart enough to run a star ship most of the time but not so smart that it would surprise it's creators. The enormous human crew can provide the trouble shooting for any occurrences that exceed the bounds of Chimp's hobbled mind while being kept in suspended animation the rest of the time. This is life aboard the Eriophora a few weeks with a handful of your crew mates awake looking at complex problems and thousands of years in a frozen death like sleep until the ship suffers a catastrophic failure that kills everyone. Every part of the ship was built with redundancy in mind so it's having a surprisingly long run.

The plot is told to us as the journal of one of the crew mates, Sunday, who's stuck watching snap shots of the universe as they facilitate its colonization. The things that come out of the star gates are bizarre, post-human, and have never bothered to say hello; not that the Eriophora sticks around long enough to chat as it has to accelerate away from the radiation burst at near c just to avoid the resulting gamma ray burst created when birthing star gates. Some the things that come through are really scary and sometimes they appear to try to attack the ship. After one particularly bad incident Sunday is consoling a freaked out crew mate who just wants to quit. Whatever the crew is helping spread across the universe doesn't seem remotely human. The universe is vast and old and the future stretches ever outward with the only end being heat death. The whole event gets her thinking about what the rest of their lives are going to look like. Subjectively it's been years, and objectively it's been eons. Chimp is withholding information, other crew members are varying levels of antsy and resigned and Sunday is starting to wonder if she wants to spend the rest of her life on the ship and if not what she can do about the situation. What follows is the slowest, most piecemeal mutiny in the history of the universe as the rebels have to find a way to defeat or subvert the extremely redundant Chimp without destroying their home in the process. And they have to do it without ever letting on that they're doing it at all.

This book is a real thriller. It mixes a sort of psychological agoraphobia and claustrophobia into one setting in a ship that is at once to big and empty and stifling. Chimp is a monomaniacal and engaging antagonist. He isn't cruel or selfish. He's just a machine trying to do his job. He's not smart. He has nearly unlimited surveillance powers. The whole scenario is delightfully suspenseful and made even better by the relationship between Sunday and Chimp. They are almost friends and Chimp expresses fondness for her. Is it real feeling or applied psychology? There's just no way to know and the question gnaws even even as she prepares to betray the mission. Since this is a Watts book we aren't guaranteed a happy ending. Humanity, Fuck Yeah! aficionados will walk away confused about whether this story was for them since the whole mess was engineered by folks on Earth so long ago. It's a story about the unbroken human spirit but it doesn't portray it as an unalloyed good. If dark science fiction with a strong first person narrative appeals to you give the Freeze Frame Revolution a read.

IRON NODER THE THIRTEENTH

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