Six Wakes


Mur Lafferty


Science Fiction / Fantasy


Date Reviewed:

June 22, 2017

picked this book up at the library, where it was displayed among the "New In Paperback" shelves. I had never heard of Mur Lafferty before, but the premise described on the cover was interesting enough to give the book a try. I am glad that I did!

Six Wakes starts of with a dramatic scene - Maria is a clone who wakes up in a rebirthing center in a horrible situation. Maria has been reborn because her previous clone has perished - and it perished in spectacular fashion: the corpse of Maria's former body is floating (the reader soon learns that Maria is on board a generation starship) in the rebirthing chamber with a fatal knife wound in her back. Her fellow crewmates are also lying around as corpses in the chamber, it seems that everyone on board has been murdered. There are a total of six crew members, all clones, who are manning the starship while the colonists hibernate - and all six have died in gruesome fashion.

Unfortunately, no one has any memory of the events that led to this awful situation. Under normal circumstances, a "memory map" is made at periodic times in a clone's life, and then, should the clone perish, the next body is awakened and the "memory map" is loaded into the clone's brain; the new body can pick up from the point where the previous incarnation died. But on the generation starship Dormire, someone has deleted all the stored memory maps. Even worse, the artificial intelligence, called IAN, has been tampered with, so it is also missing any record of the events that led up to this desperate scene.

The situation gets worse! Someone has destroyed all the stored clone bodies, so if one of the crew members should die again, there will be no future resurrection in a new body. Maria learns that her five fellow crewmates all have violent pasts and secret agendas - any one of the crew mates could have the skill and the will to murder the entire crew. Indeed, since she cannot access her previous clone's memory, Maria might even be the guilty party, because she too has dark deeds in her past.

Everything I just wrote is detailed in the first few chapters of Six Wakes. The book starts fast and keeps the pace going. Revelations are brought to light, and the reader learns of the criminal deeds of each of the crew members. There are a lot events and surprises. Who is the murderer, and why?

I like this book because it establishes a plausible-seeming future, and then the story plays out in that environment. The reader has to be able to accept the possibility of cloning, the making and transferring of mind-maps, and some rather amazing computer-hacking ability, but it Lafferty does not violate these rules once they are established. The ending doesn't involve surprise technologies or the dread deux-ex-machina plot twist that renders all the previous story pointless. Lafferty is clearly an accomplished author, but there doesn't seem to any other SF novels that she has written.