Sunday, April 23, 2017

SciFi/Fantasy Book Review: Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty

Long Review: 
Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty is in its simplest form a very classic plot setup - the locked room murder mystery.  It's just that in this book, the murdered individuals are the entire clone crew of a generation ship, and the people desperately trying to find the killer are well...the successor clones to those same individuals.  Oh and there's an AI, and DNA Hacking, and.....well you get the point.

Basically, in this setting, there are strict rules about cloning and serious questions about their own rights.  The cast are six clones who have been sent as the sole crew of a generation ship with criminal backgrounds and who have been promised the erasure of those same criminal backgrounds if they complete their mission.  None of the six knows the background or crimes of the others, just that each is in the same position.  Whenever a clone dies, a new clone is to be born with the most recent mindmap (a memory backup) of the last clone implanted in the new clone's head.

Except one day: all six crew members wake up as new clones, with the corpses and blood of their most recent selves spread throughout their ship.  The Ship's AI is dead, and the memory backup they've been born with isn't the most recent one - it's the last one before they boarded the ship.  And the ship is off course.  Now with no memories of what happened before and how they all died, can they figure out what's happened, save their mission, and well...not die to the same causes as their predecessors?  Because the cloning technology is ALSO now broken, and if they die one more time, that's it for good.

The book jumps from the POV of one clone to the next (although one character, Maria, gets the most screentime), and occassionally flashes back to each clone's individual past that led to their being on the ship, as the characters attempt to solve the mystery.  The characters are strong, as is the writing - which never seems to drag and is nicely paced, and the solution in the end doesn't quite take the predictable turn one might expect.  The solution is maybe SLIGHTLY too tidy I guess, but it works pretty well honestly.

As you can tell from the grade, I really liked Six Wakes, and suspect that if you're both a SF and a mystery fan (or even just one or the other), you'll enjoy this too. Highly recommended, and a contender for my hugo ballot for next year.

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