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Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty

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Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty
Published by Orbit on January 31, 2017
Source: Purchased
Genres: Science Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 364
Format: Paperback
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A space adventure set on a lone ship where the clones of a murdered crew must find their murderer -- before they kill again.

It was not common to awaken in a cloning vat streaked with drying blood.

At least, Maria Arena 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.Maria's vat was in the front of six vats, each one holding the clone of a crew member of the starship Dormire, each clone waiting for its previous incarnation to die so it could awaken. And Maria wasn't the only one to die recently...

Six Wakes is one I picked up based on the blurb – a locked-room mystery in space, a sci-fi mystery.

The sci-fi hook this time around was cloning. The laws around cloning are strict, but basically, we have figured out how to make mindmaps, putting all of a person’s memories, thoughts, personalities into a code that can be transferred into that person’s cloned body, making an individual practically immortal and able to inherit their own belongings/money. There’s some philosophical discussion about what makes a person a person, what is a soul, etc., but it’s not really dealt with in depth.

The mystery set up is great. Six people wake up in fresh clone bodies, with the clear evidence that their previous bodies had been murdered, obviously by one of them, since everyone else on the generational ship is in “storage.” One or more of them is the killer, but no one knows who – their memories from the last 25 years have disappeared and the ship’s AI is down.

I loved the mix of solving the current puzzle and giving us the characters’ backgrounds; a couple of them had particularly fascinating backstories. The each have their reasons for being on the ship, for needing a fresh start, and how those motivations clash adds to the tension. Even though each has lost 25 years, they do have the mindmap from just after they first boarded the ship, and most of them have lived several lives, done things good and bad. I was a little disappointed with the big reveal, but overall it was a solid book.

About Mur Lafferty

Mur Lafferty is the author of Six Wakes and The Shambling Guides series from Orbit books, as well as several self pubbed novels and novellas, including the award winning Afterlife series. She is the host of podcasts I Should Be Writing and Ditch Diggers. She is the recipient of the John Campbell Award for best new writer, the Manly Wade Wellman Award, and joined the Podcast Hall of Fame in its inaugural year.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

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The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers, #1) by Becky Chambers
Narrator: Rachel Dulude
Series: Wayfarers #1
Published by Tantor Audio on July 7, 2016
Source: Library
Genres: Science Fiction
Length: 14 hrs 24 mins
Format: Audiobook
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Rosemary Harper doesn't expect much when she joins the crew of the aging Wayfarer. While the patched-up ship has seen better days, it offers her a bed, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy, and, most importantly, some distance from her past. An introspective young woman, she's never met anyone remotely like the ship's diverse crew, including Sissix, the exotic reptilian pilot; chatty engineers Kizzy and Jenks, who keep the ship running; and Ashby, their noble captain.

Life aboard the Wayfarer is chaotic and crazy - exactly what Rosemary wants. It's also about to get extremely dangerous when the crew is offered the job of a lifetime. Tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet is definitely lucrative and will keep them comfortable for years. But risking her life wasn't part of the plan.

In the far reaches of deep space, the tiny Wayfarer crew will confront a host of unexpected mishaps and thrilling adventures that force them to depend on each other. To survive, Rosemary's got to learn how to rely on this assortment of oddballs - an experience that teaches her about love and trust and that having a family isn't necessarily the worst thing in the universe.

I really liked The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, but I don’t have much to say about it. Do you ever run into that problem. For the most part, we’re hanging out with the crew of the Wayfarer who are an awesome group of “people” – humans and other species, even a sentient AI. They are wormhole tunnelers, which is can be tough, but this newest job is the chance of a lifetime.

Often, it seems like sci-fi is about the politics or the weapons or the conflict, whatever it is. In The Long Way, all those things exist, but it’s more about how the crew are a family, how they face the big issues. We tag along on their adventures in ports or planets where friends live. We worry with them when they face a crisis, but know it will work out, because together they can handle most anything. I became attached to them all. I may have even cried when they had to hard reset the AI, which is not really surprising, I cry a lot at books.

Maybe it’s “feel good” sci-fi, if that’s a thing. The bad things are out there: politicians who put profits over peoples’ lives; prejudice against others due to their species, but the good is so much bigger, there are so many more caring, kind people out there, just trying to do their best. The characters, the crew obviously, but even others we meet briefly are well-drawn, have their own histories and cultures that play into how they act and interact with each other. The galaxy is a hugely diverse place where “people” of all types can find acceptance.

And sometimes filling out the right form can save someone’s life.

About Becky Chambers

Becky Chambers is the author of the award-nominated science fiction novels. She also writes nonfiction essays and short stories, which can be found in various places around the internet.

In addition to writing, Becky has a background in performing arts, and grew up in a family heavily involved in space science. She’s worked as a technical writer, a bartender, and a production assistant, among other things. Having lived in Scotland and Iceland, she is currently back in her home state of California.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi

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The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi
Narrator: Wil Wheaton
Series: The Interdependency #1
Published by Audible Studios on March 21, 2017
Source: Purchased
Genres: Science Fiction
Length: 9 hrs 23 mins
Format: Audiobook
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Our universe is ruled by physics and faster than light travel is not possible -- until the discovery of The Flow, an extra-dimensional field we can access at certain points in space-time that transport us to other worlds, around other stars.

Humanity flows away from Earth, into space, and in time forgets our home world and creates a new empire, the Interdependency, whose ethos requires that no one human outpost can survive without the others. It’s a hedge against interstellar war -- and a system of control for the rulers of the empire.

The Flow is eternal -- but it is not static. Just as a river changes course, The Flow changes as well, cutting off worlds from the rest of humanity. When it’s discovered that The Flow is moving, possibly cutting off all human worlds from faster than light travel forever, three individuals -- a scientist, a starship captain and the Empress of the Interdependency -- are in a race against time to discover what, if anything, can be salvaged from an interstellar empire on the brink of collapse.

The Collapsing Empire is my first Scalzi book, but since it’s the first in a new series in a new world that wasn’t a problem.  I have to say I really enjoyed it. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was getting good review and I needed an audio for the Sci-Fi Readathon. Now, I’m a little upset that I have to wait for the next in the series, which, at least according to Goodreads, isn’t expected until 2019. 🙁

The Flow has allowed humans to build a far-flung empire, the Interdependency. The Interdependency is set up so that all the colonies must depend on each other, hence the name. The problem is the flow is changing, moving, becoming inaccessible – outposts will be cut-off, unable to send or receive supplies or people. Eventually, it’s going to be a matter of survival, but now it’s a political issue, one that the brand-new Emperox has to handle.

It’s clearly the first in the series. We get to know the world and some of the major characters. I did like the strong, well-developed female characters, including Cardenia Wu-Patrick, the emperox, the cunning and maybe brilliant Lady Nadashe of a merchant family. I will admit that Lady Kiva Lagos annoyed me a little for her constant use of a choice expletive – I found it a lazy way to tell us she’s tough and unafraid of going against convention.

It’s was funny too, which surprised me a bit. I listened to the audio. Wil Wheaton is the narrator, which is honestly part of the reason I picked it up, but I’m not sure I loved him as the narrator. I can’t put my finger on why, and he was fine, I just never really bought into it. He never disappeared into the story for me, if that makes sense. It wasn’t enough to stop me from listening to other things he narrates, but I certainly won’t seek them out.

Mostly The Collapsing Empire was a lead up to the story. It’s just the start of the chaos to come.

About John Scalzi

John Michael Scalzi II (born May 10, 1969) is an American science fiction author and former president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. He is best known for his Old Man’s War series, three novels of which have been nominated for the Hugo Award, and for his blog Whatever, where he has written on a number of topics since 1998. He won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer in 2008 based predominantly on that blog, which he has also used for several charity drives. His novel Redshirts won the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novel. He has written non-fiction books and columns on diverse topics such as finance, video games, films, astronomy, writing and politics, and served as a creative consultant for the TV series Stargate Universe.

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