Review: Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty

\"\"Mur Lafferty\’s novel Six Wakes opens with one of the main characters waking up in the cloning bay of a spaceship, surrounded by corpses – including her own, which appears to have aged multiple decades since her most recent memory.

(I feel like that hook, plus the assurance that the author successfully delivers on the premise, is really all I need to say to recommend the book.  It certainly grabbed my attention from the beginning.  But I will continue on anyway…)

The other five crew members wake up shortly thereafter, and they soon come to realize that they need to solve their own murders in order to feel confident that they\’re not about to be killed again.  This is complicated by multiple factors, of course.  The rest of the crew is also missing decades of memories, so none of them remember each other, or have any reason to trust each other, either.  The AI piloting the ship has been disabled, and the ship is off course.  And, as the crew members start to compare notes, they start to realize commonalities and overlaps in their lives prior to the voyage.

The narrative aboard the ship is interspersed with flashbacks providing some details about each of the crew\’s histories, as well as background about the social and political ramifications of cloning.  It would be an understatement to say that humanity as a whole did not handle the emergence of that particular technology very well, and the resulting upheaval is a crucial part of the story\’s background.  The reader gets to piece together the complete history of the crew, and of human society as a whole, from the bits and pieces we get from each character\’s flashback, and I found it to be a rewarding and entertaining experience.

Six Wakes is a wonderful example of the kind of storytelling that science fiction as a genre is capable of.  Mur Lafferty skillfully imagines the social strife around the development of cloning, and its microcosmic strife among the crew, and while the technological aspects of her imagined future are fascinating, it is the human reaction to it that makes a great idea into a fantastic story.

My Hugo ballot so far:

  1. Six Wakes, Mur ​Lafferty
  2. The Stone Sky, N.K. Jemisin
  3. Provenance, Ann Leckie
  4. New York 2140, Kim Stanley Robinson


#1 Nicholas on 07.21.18 at 6:47 am

Linked – hope that’s OK.

#2 Chris Battey on 07.21.18 at 2:15 pm

Fine by me! And thanks for including me in your roundup. I’ve been building up my ballot in each category as I go along (since I find it easier to develop a full ranked list that way), but I just finished writing my last Novel review and the top spot on my ballot is actually going to Raven Stratagem.

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