Sunday, February 4, 2024

Review: The World He Once Knew by Micah Castle

by Micah Castle
Release Date: January 26, 2024
2024 Fedowar Press, LLC
Ebook ARC: 190 Pages
ISBN: 978-1956492484
Genre: Fiction / Horror / Sci-fi
Source: Review copy from author
4 / 5 Stars
Jay has been uploaded into a new body to investigate why the transporter ship Candlemass went dark fourteen days ago. After the ship's owner gives him the rundown of the assignment, he's quickly ushered on board. In the halls of the derelict vessel, Jay discovers black sludge coating the inner hull, leading him to a container in the Cargo Bay. As Jay digs further, he's thrown into a psychological maelstrom of the ship's and, more importantly, his own history and what led him to be uploaded in the first place.
The World He Once Knew is a transcendental, sci-fi horror novel set in the distant future. Here, the deceased's consciousness can be bought and uploaded and forced into labor. They can't quit, even if their new lives make them wish they were dead again.
My Thoughts
The World He Once Knew takes place in the far-distant future where Jay, married and a police detective in his old life, is uploaded into a new body and is now a HUSK, someone who was bought and created in this future world for a specific purpose.  On the shorter side at under 200 pages, the story follows Jay as he is sent to the ship Candlemass to discover why it went dark and what happened to the crew. Full of twists and turns, this short story definitely packed a lot into it and left me with a lot of questions, especially in terms of ethical ones and what the future may actually hold for us as humans.

Jay is pretty much the only character in this book that we get to know.  There are a couple of secondary characters, but Jay's interaction with them is so brief we don't really get to know them well or discover much about them.  Jay was downloaded for his skillset as a detective in his old life; combine that with the fact that his current body doesn't need rest, food, or does any of the other bodily functions of a normal human being, he is the perfect person to send into something that could be dangerous.  I loved his inner monologue as he explored the ship and thought the flashbacks to his former life blended seamlessly into the story.  I kept hoping those flashbacks would allow him to regain his humanity and lead a normal life once he got off the ship, but as the story progressed, you learned the true horror behind all of it.  

The world building was my favourite part of this book, and it took me a while to realize how subtle and amazing it actually was. As Jay roamed around the ship, I developed this inner map of what the ship looked like, something I do for any sci-fi book I read, as I need to visualize the setting, especially for something so alien.  However, I realized as the book progressed the ship was sort of...changing, depending on what was happening to Jay. It was so subtle I didn't even realize it was happening until a certain episode happened, and then I was thinking how cool that was, how I was manipulated without even realizing it.  Then I wondered what else I missed because the writing style and the horror are not in your face bloodshed, rather it's a subtle horror that just creeps up on you as you read.  

The World He Once Knew is a fantastic title and definitely has a double-meaning behind it now that I have finished this book.  I thought it was creepy in a deceptive kind of way, the horror sort of enveloping you without you realizing what was happening. It's not a campy, bloody type of horror, but a psychological one, one that I loved as I appreciated the subtlety of the writing. The twists and turns were definitely there and as such, I didn't know what to expect, but the same thing happening in the previous book I read by this author as well.  The biggest horror element in this book though, is the thought that this could be our future, our reality, and that scares me the most of all. 



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