Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty

The Blurb On The Back:

A lone ship. A murdered crew. And a clone who must find her own killer – 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 yesterday …

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

It’s July 25th 2493. Maria Arena awakens in a vat in the cloning bay of the Dormire (an interstellar ship staffed by 6 clones and an AI called IAN are tasked with taking 300 colonists to Artemis, a planet in the Cetus constellation) to find three dead bodies floating in the room around her. The corpses belong to her and her fellow crew members: Joanna Glass (ship’s doctor), Paul Seurat (engineer) and Wolfgang (the security officer and second in command). The corpse of Akihiro ‘Hiro’ Sato (pilot and navigator) is found hung in the bridge while Captain Katrina de la Cruz previous clone is found seriously injured in the medical bay.

Usually a clone wakes up with a mindmap that tells them what happened between their lives but all 6 crewmembers find that their mindmaps for the last 25 years have been wiped. They only have the mindmaps from the day they boarded the ship. Somehow, they must piece together the facts to work out who was responsible for killing their previous selves and why …

Mur Lafferty’s intelligent and thought-provoking SF novel uses multiple murder to investigate the ethical, legal and practical considerations of living as a clone and although some of the dialogue is a little stilted, Katarina and Paul are underdeveloped and the ending too pat, I really enjoyed how she weaves in the backstory for each of the characters and the way they slowly overlap and will definitely check out Lafferty’s other work.

I found the ideas about cloning really fascinating and Lafferty fully explores the legalities and practicalities involved in cloning. I particularly enjoyed how she weaves different aspects of this into the backstories for the different crew members, including theological and technological considerations and the way that cloning can be exploited for nefarious purposes. Maria, Hiro and Wolfgang are probably the best developed of the characters (in the case of Wolfgang this is mainly due to his backstory, which I found the most interesting) but Katarina and Paul are less convincing, mainly because their backstories are less interesting.

I did find the dialogue a little stilted at times (particularly Hiro who has a forced delivery, although there are reasons for this) and the ending was too neat for my tastes but the ideas in this book had me gripped from beginning to end and I will definitely check out Lafferty’s other books.

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