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...
Dear Mur Lafferty,
Somebody mentioned your book at File 770 where I lurk on the regular basis and it sounded like a lot of fun and it was on sale, so I could not resist and one clicked.
Before the actual story begins the readers are presented with the following summar .
“International Law regarding the Codicils to govern the existence of clones.
Established October 9, 2282.
- It is unlawful to create more than one clone of a person at a time. Each clone is one person. Cloning will be used for longevity of life, not for multiplication. If a clone is multiplied by their own hand or others, the most recent clone has claim to the identity, while the other( s) are extraneous.
- It is unlawful for a clone to bear or father children. A clone is considered their own child for the rest of their life, including where it affects inheritance law. Clones must be sterilized upon rebirth.
- It is unlawful to put a mindmap onto a body that does not bear the original DNA.
- Clones must always have the most recent mindmap of their consciousness on a drive on their person. They and their mindmaps are subject to search by authorities at all times.
- It is unlawful to modify any DNA or mindmap of any clone. (Codicil 2 being an exception.) Clones must continue with the DNA of their original bodies and their original mindmap.
- The shells a clone leaves behind must be disposed of quickly, hygienically, and without ceremony or ritual.
- It is unlawful for a clone to end their own current life in order to be reborn. (Exception one: A clone can sign a euthanasia agreement, if a qualified doctor agrees that death is imminent and they are suffering. Exception two: See Codicil 1.).
Science fiction readers know that when the writer is exploring the topic of cloning, especially cloning the human beings a lot of interesting issues could be explored and this story was no exception. But it also was just an entertaining story for me.
When the story begins the day is now July 25, 2493 and we are on board of the spaceship called “Dormire”. The disoriented crew of the ship is waking up in their new clone bodies. It becomes apparent that all six members of the crew were murdered pretty recently in a gruesome way and apparently the crew member Maria Arena who woke up first was the one who managed to hit the resurrection switch before her death – thus allowing them to come back in their new bodies. What this also means is that all of them are missing good twenty five years of their lives, since that’s when their recent mindmap took place.
Basically the way I understood is that mindmap is a complete backup of your personality, something that you are supposed to do on the regular basis if you intend to be cloned when you die and once you did it, of course people keep doing it and waking up in their new bodies. It seemed to me that most characters in this story already lived few hundred years by changing their bodies when the current one expires. My impression was that it is not that expensive anymore, one of the characters even says that life became cheap.
But let’s go back to the story. Maria Arena and other members of the crew woke up in various states of distress but tried to come to terms with the situation – some better than others. Basically while their mission was to deliver 2500 passengers on Board to the new planet, the only person/s who could murder them supposedly was one of them. There is nobody else there since all passengers are asleep and will wake up in their new clone bodies once they arrive to their destination.
This means that the crew is having a lot of trouble trusting one another and at least partially the story at this point becomes “locked room mystery” or should I say “locked space ship mystery”.
Having said that, it is only partially a “locked space ship mystery” because the reasons and motivations for what took place lied in the time and places before this mission even started and we need to learn that and this was one of the problems I had with the narrative, because it felt a little clumsy. Basically in order to deliver the information needed to solve the mystery the author chose to do so by giving us backstories of every crew member. I mean, it was not boring precisely – I liked learning who these people were, but it broke the flow of the story for me a little and also revealed a little too much about who was behind all of it and what connected our crew members.
I am trying very hard not to reveal the spoilers here, but basically by the time every backstory was given you know who is pulling the strings without investigating anything if that makes sense. What you *don’t know* is who did the actual murders and I liked that everybody had very good reasons for that, but I kind of felt that the person/s pulling the strings were the real villains anyway.
I did not expect to enjoy the characterizations so much – most of them were really flawed people, and when I say flaws, I mean big ones, but by the end of the book I was pulling for all of them to survive.