Review: Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty
Published by Hachette Audio on January 31st 2017
Genres: Science Fiction
Length: 9 hours 44 minutes
A space adventure set on a lone ship where the murdered crew are resurrected through cloning to discover who their killer was -- and the secret to their mission.
It was not common to awaken in a cloning vat streaked with drying blood.
At least, Marie Shea iv had never experienced it. She had no memory of how she died. That was also new; before, when she had awakened as a new clone, her first memory was of how she died, from illness once and from injury once...
Maria's vat was in the front of six vats, each one holding the clone of a crew member of the starship Pituitary, each clone waiting for its previous incarnation to die so it could awaken. Apparently Maria wasn't the only one to die recently.
Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty is a cohesive blend of science fiction, mystery and thriller. It starts off strong with a new crew of six clones awaking under mysterious circumstances. They quickly realize their memories are not fully up to date, and it looks like it is quite apparent at least some them were murdered (thus triggering these new clones to emerge as their replacements).
So, when you wake up with no memories and realize the entire crew (your previous selves) has died, how does one solve the mystery of what happened? And what do you do about it if you solve it? So many questions!
The story is told from the varying crew member’s perspectives as well as through some flashback chapters that help clue us in a bit more about who these crew members are, and why they are on this ship. Another interesting thing to note, all of the crew members have some kind of criminal history, so their pasts are not necessarily the ho-hum expected.
The clone technology and laws around it in this open many interesting ethical questions. Clones must be registered, and there can only be one instance of a clone alive at a time. On it’s death, the memories from that clone will be transferred to a new, fresh version of the clone. This essentially makes a person immortal in that their memories live on through existence of its clones. But then, there are many interesting questions about if a clone should pay the price for the actions of a previous incarnation? There are just a lot of considerations to make in respect to this technology. And if there are multiple clones, who should be punished? How do you determine which one is legal versus illegal? Or are they all punished even if the only connection they have is the DNA they were cloned with? It was this aspect of the book, combined with the characters that kept me fully engaged with the book.
The characters are an interesting mix of personalities. Lafferty does a good job of keeping the pace going and throwing twists at the reader to keep things fresh and exciting. Honestly, the only thing working against this book for me is I don’t always enjoy “mysteries”, so nothing with regard to the author’s execution so much as personal reading preferences as I just don’t tend to get as excited about books with a strong “who dunnit” aspect. Color me strange, I expect that is not a hang up most readers will have. And to its benefit, I enjoyed this much more than typical mystery heavy books. The clone technology and all of the ramifications and ethical questions surrounding it, paired with the characters made this book well worth reading.
Audiobook Notes: The narration for this was well done. For being a book with multiple POVs, as well as flashbacks, I was able to follow the story very well. Also, I had no idea it was the author that narrated this book until I was writing the review, so I have to confess to being even more impressed with Lafferty’s skills.