By Mur Lafferty
I don’t always buy every book that’s nominated for the Hugo best novel, but I do check them out to see if they appeal. In 2018, the nominees were:
The Stone Sky, by N.K. Jemisin
The Collapsing Empire, by John Scalzi
Provenance, by Ann Leckie
Six Wakes, by Mur Lafferty
Raven Stratagem, by Yoon Ha Lee
New York 2140, by Kim Stanley Robinson
If you are one of the
millions of, dozens of, readers of this blog then you know that I have already reviewed The Collapsing Empire. Of the others, Six Wakes appealed the most (The Stone Sky won, if you hadn’t heard already).
The premise of Six Wakes is appealing straight out of the box. Clones wake up on a space ship to see their dead former selves (previous clones) covered in blood. They are in the middle of a decades long journey to colonize a new planet. Their memories are from old backups, right back to when they started their journey.
The rest of the story is them learning about how their seemingly disconnected pasts are actually much more related than they could ever have thought. There are a couple of ethical questions that are covered. Not only are they able to backup minds, but the minds are also hackable. Cool stuff through and through. But…
The story felt like it was written by a different author in different sections (or maybe by the same author at different times). The beginning of the story had huge tension. Of course, six people had just discovered they’d been murdered… and one of them is the murderer. But a little bit after that, however, the story turns humorous, which felt schizophrenic. The characters were just wondering which of their tiny number murdered them all, and then they were cracking wise in the mess hall. This was then followed by back story which delved into the ethics of clone rights. If you are cloned, and the old body is not destroyed, which one is the (legally) “real” person? What happens to the rights of the less “real” person? It kinda jumped a bit, which gave me reader’s whiplash.
Some parts of the novel made me go “wow!” while others made me go “huh?” The wows won, but the huhs were still significant. The revelation of the “bad guy” was not really satisfying to me, mostly because it was an awfully elaborate (not to mention extremely expensive) plot to murder people. And the inconsistency in the characters (which admittedly could be explained by mental illness) lessened my enjoyment. Still, because of the ideas, I’d buy another Mur Lafferty book.