Okay, I know I failed at posting last week. Work has been exceptionally worky lately, and resting doesn’t sound much like “writing a thing for the Net about a book”. Still, I’m back. Because I couldn’t help but review this one–I loved it so much!
The world is an exceptionally complicated place these days. Many of my friends have been consumed by the latest political news, by the new year’s arrival, and by the general malaise that inserts itself into our collective unconscious every winter. What you need, I think, is a book that can let you suspend disbelief and just get lost in the ideas at-hand. What you need is Six Wakes.
I’d heard of the author, the delightfully-named Mur Lafferty, before. But I hadn’t read any of her previous output (though I’d given at least one of her podcasts a listen in the past). The cover art for Six Wakes caught my eye somewhere a few months back, and it just kept popping up in my various feeds as its release date inched closer and closer. When it FINALLY came out last month, I snatched it up (though I didn’t have the time to start reading until last weekend). Like I said, you need this book. I know I did.
The setup here is a fairly unique one: Six individuals wake up on a starship. It’s a future wherein people can opt to become clones of themselves–mindmaps are made of their personalities, memories, and what makes them them. These mindmaps are periodically updated, and whenever a clone dies their latest mindmap is downloaded into a new copy of their body, making them effectively immortal. The ship has a load of frozen humans en route on a 100-year-plus trip to a new world. Six clones who are looking to erase their criminal records have been tasked with piloting and crewing the ship (along with an AI) until it reaches its destination. But something has gone wrong.
Six clones wake up and find their six previous selves brutally murdered (or in a coma), scattered throughout the ship. The AI is acting strangely. They determine that the trip has been in progress for 25+ years, and yet they have no updated memories from all of those decades. And worse, the food printer has been programmed to only produce deadly poison.
The book is an entirely original setup for a murder mystery like no other: who were these people in their previous lives, how were those lives connected, and who killed whom (with what motivation). It’s like a high-tech game of Clue with stakes that actually matter, and I loved it! I wish I could go back with a fresh mindmap and read it a second time (for the first time)–it was a wildly enjoyable experience for me.
The tone of Six Wakes is melancholy, terrifying at times, and the story barrels along at a frantic pace. The sections looking at the clones’ previous lives were fascinating, and the elements of this book click together in a very satisfying way, like one huge masterfully-plotted puzzle. This author is my new literary hero, and I’ll be keeping a VERY close eye out for any new work from her.
I don’t believe one has to be a huge science fiction fan to enjoy Six Wakes, either. If you can grasp the setup I described above, you’ll be fine. Don’t let the sci-fi trappings scare you away from such an amazing story! If you’re a science fiction fan in the first place, I see no reason why you wouldn’t like it as well. If you need a break from the world (and who doesn’t), check out Six Wakes.
Read this book immediately, and feel free to thank me (and, sure, Mur Lafferty) later.