Books : reviews

Mur Lafferty.
Six Wakes.
Orbit. 2017

rating : 2.5 : great stuff
review : 18 April 2021

A lone ship, a murdered crew, and a clone who must find her own—before they strike again.

In the depths of space it’s pretty normal to wake up in a cloning vat. The streaks of blood, however? Not so normal.

Maria Arena has been cloned before. Usually when she awakens as a new clone, her first memory is of how she died. This time, she has no idea. Her memories are incomplete.

And Maria isn’t the only one to have died recently…

In deep space, a ship full of frozen colonists and a crew of six criminal clones runs into trouble. The whole crew wakes in the cloning room: they had all been murdered. Recloning after death is standard, but they realise they have no memory not only of the events leading up to the mass murder, but of the entire 25 years since launch. Their backups are destroyed, the ship’s AI is offline, and the food printer is dispensing only hemlock. They need to figure out what is going on before they all die again.

This is a great murder mystery, fully dependent on the science fictional context of the technology of printing clones and the consequent social changes, of the scope of body and brain hacking, and the ‘locked room’ setting of deep space flight. We gradually see the back stories of the crew, and discover how those relate to the current mystery. Of course, nothing is as it first appears. Everything is both complicated (there are several different stories at work) and simple (there’s a honking great clue early on), and it’s a fun read to see how the jigsaw fits together to build a futuristic picture.