Six Wakes: a locked-room science fiction murder mystery, delightfully confounded by cloning and memory backups
Readers of Boing Boing have joined me in chronicling the variegated science fiction career of Mur Lafferty: novelist, podcast pioneer, editor -- today, she publishes her latest novel, a hard sf murder mystery called Six Wakes, in which the crew of a generation ship awake in a blood-drenched shipboard cloning bay, in fresh bodies to replace their murdered selves floating in the alarming null-gee, memories restored to the backup they made just before launch, a quarter-century before.
So begins one of the cleverest, quippiest, nail-bitingest murder mysteries in the sf canon, a novel in the mind-bending existential tradition of John Varley's "Barbie Murders" and "Overdrawn at the Memory Bank" and my own debut novel Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, in which the murder victim is reanimated and joins in the search for their murderer -- but with an important and clever twist: one of the murder victims is also the murderer, and doesn't know it.
Lafferty cut her teeth writing serialized novels for podcast distribution, and the skills she developed for the form serve her well in mystery writing. Her characters have the zippy, quippy dialog of radio drama, and her structure capitalizes on every opportunity for dramatic tension and cliff-hangers, and these two strengths are a powerful boiler pulling the story's crazy-train.
As the story unfolds, we are exposed to enough of each character's backstory to form an opinion about whether they are the murderer -- and we're simultaneously asked to ponder the social dislocation that cloning-based immortality could give rise to -- but there's never any certainty, with the reader guessing furiously right up to the climax.
In the meantime, Lafferty pulls all kinds of smart mystery-plotting moves, including finding clever ways to create real risks for the characters, even after establishing that they can theoretically be restored to life if worse comes to worst.
This is a great book with so much going for it: clever structure, wonderful characters, and a fiendishly clever puzzle that you'll roll over in your mind for months after you close the covers.
Six Wakes [Mur Lafferty/Orbit]
A once-underground movement of Finnish girls who conduct elaborate dressage routines with toy hobbyhorses has gone mainstream, with coaches, competitions and trainers, and is spreading abroad.
I'm coming to Halifax to give the closing keynote on day one of Atlseccon on April 24th: it's only my second-ever visit to the city and the first time I've given a talk there, so I really hope you can make it!
Chuck Tingle (previously) has leapt into action with some of the most trenchant analysis of the Mueller Report yet seen: Redacted In The Butt By Redacted Under The Tromp Administration covers all the most significant details through an exquisitely crafted tale of gay pornography.
Believe it or not, PDF files have been the go-to format for contracts and forms of any type since 1993. And sure, they’re easily shareable – but that’s about it. When you need to edit or sign a document – and you will – that’s when frustration can set in. Luckily, there are workarounds, and […]
It’s 4/20! Smoke ’em if you got ’em – and if you haven’t got ’em, check out this roundup of deep discounts on pipes and other accessories. They’re all on sale, but you can take an extra discount off the final price courtesy of the Boing Boing store by using the online code 420SAVE. Freeze […]
Ever wonder if you’re cleaning your teeth well enough? If your last dentist visit has you getting a little more thorough about oral care, it might be time to save yourself some guesswork. A lot of electric toothbrushes promise deep cleaning, but there’s a Platinum Sonic Toothbrush that has power plus the simple but effective […]