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Six Wakes

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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...

361 pages, Paperback

First published January 31, 2017

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About the author

Mur Lafferty

116 books1,565 followers
Mur Lafferty is the author of Solo: A Star Wars Story and the Hugo and Nebula nominated novel Six Wakes, The Shambling Guides series, and several self pubbed novels and novellas, including the award winning Afterlife series. She is the host of the Hugo-winning podcast Ditch Diggers, and the long-running I Should Be Writing. She is the recipient of the John Campbell Award for best new writer, the Manly Wade Wellman Award, the Best Fancast Hugo Award, and joined the Podcast Hall of Fame in 2015, its inaugural year.

NOTE- Goodreads mail is NOT a good way to get in touch with me. If you wish to reach me, contact information is available at my website.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,630 reviews
Profile Image for Emily (Books with Emily Fox).
554 reviews60.5k followers
April 5, 2018
I'm having a hard time rating this book. 3.5? 3.75?

I think this could be a good sci fi to read if you're trying to transition from YA to Adult books.

You're following a group of 6 clones-astronauts who wake up not remembering what happened. They can see their old bodies floating around but can't remember which one of them, killed everyone!

I liked the mix of mystery and sci-fi and the premise was intriguing. I can't pin point what exactly didn't work for me with the writing. The dialogues maybe?

I liked it and I can see how others would love it!
Profile Image for Philip.
513 reviews683 followers
February 6, 2020
4/1/18 - This was voted as a Hugo finalist. Kind of baffled. I mean, it’s good, it’s entertaining, I just can’t imagine anyone putting it on their ballot as one of the five best books of the year? Not even just based on my preference, but that seems to be the consensus among my friends based on their ratings/reviews, even the ones who enjoyed it more than me. Good but not that good. Not Hugo good. More sloppy and forgettable. I never love all of the finalists in a given year, but I can usually respect and understand why certain books are voted for. I don’t get this one.


3ish stars.

This is a fun popcorn thriller/mystery/generation ship/near future/philosophical debate… book. All of these elements are thrown in but there’s too much going on for Lafferty to flesh any of them out sufficiently. Part of it wants to be fun and kooky and another part wants to be taken seriously. Regardless, it’s a fast-paced escapist pleasure ride and sometimes that’s just what the doctor ordered.

The format of the book is cool: six clones wake up at once to find their murdered (or near-murdered) previous bodies floating in a spaceship with no memory of what has happened since they boarded 25 years ago. The puzzle is gradually pieced together while interspersed chapters explain the backgrounds of each of the passengers aboard the ship.

The prose/dialogue is weak but this is the kind of book that it doesn’t matter after a few chapters because the clever plot sucks you in enough to stop noticing. There are also a few too many convenient explanations and solutions for my tastes not quite living up to the promise of the mystery at the onset. It's fast and exciting, though, despite its apparent flaws.

Posted in Mr. Philip's Library
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,108 followers
February 12, 2017
This is a SF closed-room murder mystery! Six characters, six viewpoints, and a truly cool SF twist of constant cloning and memory re-investment. Resurrection!

But instead of losing us on the immediate lack of consequences because our murdered peeps keep coming back, we're dealt a hand where whole personalities can be hacked as easily as memories, and these poor saps all have richly criminal lives before they were "chosen" to be taking a long space-boat ride to another star. :) Hence, closed-room. Claustrophobic, even, when we consider the kinds of crazy that these folks can come up with.

I personally thought this was almost on the level of a comedy and might have been pulled off very successfully as one. I mean, the stakes when it came to the real clone wars, the jealousy, the hate, the religious nuttery, etc., was pretty horrible, especially when one side or the other can torture you to death over and over and bring you back with all your memories intact. The same is also true when you can fundamentally alter the emotional reactions of a person after they wake from a new cloning, and the societal ramifications are really dire, including the fact that your life is forfeit if someone clones you later because they will have precedence over YOUR rights, it feels vital and scary.

However, there was just something about the novel, itself, that almost felt slapstick. The world-building was serious and seriously cool, mind you. But the actual character interactions would have fit fine in the movie, CLUE, if only they had been just a bit more over-the-top. Isn't this a weird reaction for me to have? Maybe. :) lol I still liked it very much. I just kept having these weird thoughts. :)

Regardless, the mystery was nuts and the characters were nuts and as a SF it's pretty fantastic. :) I totally recommend it for anyone wanting light and fast fun.
Profile Image for carol..
1,575 reviews8,230 followers
May 17, 2017
Think And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, only with cloning chambers.

It's been a bit since I've enjoyed a sci-fi mystery--quite possibly not since Leviathan Wakes. Lafferty has written a closed-room murder mystery with an accessible sci-fi twist, hopefully pleasing mystery and sci-fi fans alike, as long as they can survive the cloning and time shifts.

Cloning was invented hundreds of years ago, after people discovered they could 'mind-map' personality and memories at a given point in time and subsequently download the map into a grown body. Six clones guilty of various crimes have agreed to pilot and maintain a colony ship en route to a new planet, with the condition that they will be granted full pardon on arrival.

I'm familiar with Lafferty from her other series, The Shambling Guide to... and this makes definite improvements in plotting and characterization. The six crew members are all very different people, and delving into their histories is quite interesting, both in personal terms and in insight into the world-building. Like Hercule Poirot sending telegrams this way and that to gather information on suspects and their histories, we soon learn that the actions of the present are rooted in the past, but the past reminiscences aren't allowed to overshadow the present. Will the dead bodies provide any clues? Why is the captain's clone still alive but gravely injured? Who sabotaged the food synthesizing machine? There's actually two additional vital characters in this story, a neat trick when I realized it at the end. Lafferty also managed some nice little twists.

Perhaps the weakest aspect for me was the narrative structure. It was third person ~generally~ omniscient, which means there would be occasional insights into each character's thinking, although not with equal attention. However, transitions were frequently awkward, happening within the same chapter. It was also not true omniscient, as each character often avoids thinking of details that would give the reader more hints as to eventual solution/outcome. For instance, we know Maria has a secret stash, but not what all is in it. Paul and Hiro have secrets that deal with core identity. It seemed like a bit of a cheat done that way, as the information the reader gets isn't actually particularly helpful and largely could have been gained through dialogue or observation. Maybe the attempt was to keep it feeling personal, and not merely descriptive.

Overall, it was a fast, enjoyable read. I actually finished it in a day, once I could give it some attention, but I hung on to it in order to give it a second, more thorough read. I have this tendency--in real life as well--to discount history, and initially cruised through character backstories before realizing how important they were. Seeds of the past fruit in the present, and all that. It holds up well, although some occasional inconsistencies become apparent. Definitely recommend to fans of Leviathan Wakes.
Profile Image for Hannah.
595 reviews1,055 followers
May 3, 2018
I have complicated feelings on this and as is customary in such cases here are my thoughts, first in listform and then more elaborated (it feels like I haven’t done one of those reviews recently).


- That premise.
- The plot.
- The world.


- The characters.
- The narration.

I adore the premise of this: six clones who are crewing a spaceship filled to the brim with cryo-sleeping humans all wake up newly cloned with no memory of the last 26 years and a broken AI and have to figure out who killed them all and what is going on and why the space ship is turned around. I do love a good closed room mystery and the added sci-fi twist was wonderfully done. I found the plot exciting and the worldbuilding mostly wonderful. I loved the way this book created very specific rules and laws and stuck to them. I have many thoughts on the ethics of the technology described.

I was also never bored with this book and mostly sped through it (and I have been having the worst reading month). I found it in places funny and in others heartbreaking.

But. And this is a big but. The characters are dreadfully realized in such a way that for a good chunk of the book I thought this must surely be intentional (I had a whole elaborate theory that is kind of spoilery – especially because it turns out the opposite was true). It doesn’t seem to have been intentional though. Wolfgang in particular did not in the slightest resemble any human being I have ever met – and yes I understand why his backstory might give reasons for that, but it didn’t work for me. There is also a part fairly early on where Wolfgang challenges another clone to some sort of macho test of physical prowess, while they are starving and a murderer is among them. Which is weird in and of itself – but then the medical doctor on board has a thought along the lines of “knowing what she did about testosterone this seems to be normal behaviour” … and I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t think that is normal behaviour.

The narration also did not work for me. We jump between the characters by way of a semi-omniscient narrator but still the information needed is hidden from the reader in a way that did not feel natural and got annoying pretty fast. I think I would have prefered to have stuck with one of the clones, Maria preferably, because she is by far the most interesting character and I think it would have worked a lot better for the story progression.

But, I did enjoy this a whole lot. It was just what I needed to get out of my reading funk and it kept me glued to the page, eagerly trying to find out what was going on. I thought the way the story was structured and the backstories integrated was wonderful. And the world IS brilliant.

You can find my review and other thoughts on books on my blog.
Profile Image for Mogsy.
2,073 reviews2,634 followers
February 16, 2017
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2017/02/14/...

A crew of a compromised ship wake up to confusion and murder, with no memory of what came before. It’s not exactly a new premise, which is why when I first picked up Six Wakes, I thought I knew what I was in for—a mindless space adventure-thriller, with a bit of mystery thrown in perhaps. Turns out, I was wrong. Oh sure, the book had a little bit of this and a little dash of that, but it was also more than the sci-fi popcorn fare I had expected. Far, far, far from it, in fact.

The story begins on the Dormire, a generation starship carrying a cargo hold full of sleeping humans to the unspoiled paradise planet of Artemis. On the four-hundred-year journey it would take to travel to their destination, their lives would be safeguarded by IAN, the onboard AI. Six clones also make up the ship’s crew, all of them reformed criminals who are hoping to scrub their pasts clean and start their lives anew on Artimis: Katrina, the captain; Wolfgang, her second-in-command; Maria, the junior maintenance officer; Hiro, the programmer; Joanna, the medical officer; and Paul, the ship engineer. The opening scene is one of blood and terror when the six of them suddenly find themselves waking up in their cloning vats, with their minds downloaded into their new bodies—something that only happens if a clone’s previous incarnation has died.

Indeed, when they have recovered enough to find their bearings, they discover their old bodies floating around the ship in zero-G, all showing signs of violence. IAN has been knocked offline, explaining the lack of artificial gravity as well as the fact their ship is now off-course. To make matters worse, the cloning bay has been sabotaged so that the clones’ most up-to-date mindmaps cannot be accessed, and the food printer has also been reprogrammed to churn out poison. Since all the passengers in the hold are still in stasis, the implications clear: one of the six crew members had killed the others including themselves. And because their latest memories were retrieved from back-ups made decades ago from around the time they left earth, no one can remember what happened right before their deaths, so the killer can be any of them.

The more I think about it, the more I begin to think there are actually two sides to this novel. First, we have the obvious mystery aspect, which combines the suspense of a sci-fi thriller with the elements from a classic whodunit. Throw in the madness-inducing claustrophobia of knowing you are trapped on a spaceship with a group of criminals, any of whom are capable of murder—one of them has already killed you once, in fact—and the stage is set for a gripping psychological drama. To keep things interesting, the narrative also shifts between our six main characters, exploring not only who they are but also who they were in their past clone lives. Impressively, the tensions of the central mystery plot were kept up despite these frequent interludes and flashbacks.

Which brings me to second aspect of the story. While the publisher’s description might have sold us the idea that Six Wakes is nothing more than a murder mystery in space, the true nature of it is much more complicated and layered than that. Lafferty imagines a future in which humans can choose to clone themselves and transfer their mindmaps from iteration to iteration, effectively achieving a sort of immortality. Not surprisingly, this process is regulated heavily by a body of laws and a number of attached codicils to ensure that it is not abused. In exploring the characters’ pasts, the author not only addresses the ethics surrounding the cloning controversy, she also raises astute questions about our humanity by looking at the political and social ramifications on an individual as well as a societal level.

Personally, I love sci-fi stories like these, the ones that engage both the heart and the mind. I initially picked up Six Wakes expecting a straightforward mystery—some light entertainment, maybe a few twists and turns—but the book ended up being all that and more. Beneath the surface of its central premise, you’ll find a thought-provoking narrative that’s cleverly presented and well-crafted. Ultimately, Mur Lafferty has written novel that is more than it seems, engaging readers with a cast of unforgettable characters and a richly imagined plot. Six Wakes was a fun and rewarding experience all around and I cannot wait to read more by the author.
Profile Image for Gary.
442 reviews196 followers
December 28, 2017
Mur Lafferty’s Six Wakes has an intriguing setup – six clones wake up on a mid-journey colony ship to find their previous incarnations brutally murdered and discover that their memories have been sabotaged and their personalities hacked as they try to get to the truth of what happened. The novel is a generically fun and pleasurable read, but has one major design flaw: Lafferty plays her cards too close to the vest when it comes to her characters – the plot follows everyone but endears us to no one, leaving us with scant investment in what’s at stake.
The novel’s easygoing pace and light tone don’t do it any favors either – tension is built and released too easily, when a story like this would benefit from more of a steady rise in pressure. The various moral and ethical quandaries associated with cloning are dropped on the reader but don’t offer much to chew on; the mind-hacking angle is exploited to much greater effect, and thankfully Lafferty focuses on this to drum up a satisfying conclusion to the mystery. “Adequately entertaining” is the most favorable verdict I can muster.
Profile Image for Justine.
1,158 reviews312 followers
February 6, 2017
4.5 stars

A really excellent mystery in space. The clone crew of a generational ship awake in freshly cloned bodies to find that they have been murdered...but none of them has any memory of the last 25 years they have crewed the ship together.

A wonderful character driven story that delves deep into the question of personhood. I don't normally read mysteries, but I found this one to be a real page turner.
Profile Image for Tom Lee.
192 reviews25 followers
May 10, 2017
I'm giving this book a low rating, but I really enjoyed it and would recommend it as a beach read. I just can't help being disappointed at the gulf between the premise and its execution.

The setup: humanity has divided itself between clones -- who transfer minds down the years, cloned body to cloned body -- and baseline humans who do not. Aboard a generation ship bound for a distant star, a small crew is made of clones (and an AI) by necessity: the ship will be in space too long for a human lifespan. Bad news though: our crew has just woken up in cloning pods amidst their murdered former bodies, which are floating around in zero gee and making a mess. Something has obviously gone wrong, but the crew is missing its recent memories and can't be sure what happened. Everyone is a suspect!

So: clones + Agatha Christie + space. This is very, very promising. What a missed opportunity it turns out to be.

The author fails her plot in four ways.

The most obvious and grating is the language of the book. These characters are supposed to be traumatized and terrified, but they're constantly slipping into lame wisecracks -- and worse, doing so without much differentiation between voices. Joss Whedon has a lot to answer for.

Excusably, the story fails to grapple with the real implications for identity of cloning and mind transfer. The possibility of having multiple, mutable copies of an individual is legislated away until it's much too late in the story to do anything about it. The Quantum Thief's universe tackles these problems in a serious way, and it's completely bewildering, so I can understand the author's desire to keep things simple. Still, by the end it began to detract from my ability to take the story seriously.

But the biggest offense here is failing to land the individual characters' backstories in a way that has weight. They're all a bit cartoonish. And when the character whose offenses motivated the crux of the action is finally identified, it's impossible to relate to the other characters' emotional responses: the misdeed has been excused and the audience has been asked to relate to the offender. It produces an oddly flat landing to the story: all the tension and horror and dread we were supposed to be feeling drops out.

The last offense is a truly awful deus ex machina that you know, you know the science advisor thanked in the acknowledgements still feels as a knot in the pit of her stomach. Just terrible.

I was left feeling irritated by how badly-executed all of this was, and yet unable to resist the premise or breezy pace. I was entertained! Heaven help me.
Profile Image for Richard Derus.
2,980 reviews1,989 followers
September 26, 2018
Pearl Ruled p70

I can't explain precisely why this was a failure for me. It felt hollow to me from the get-go, and I wasn't terribly happy with the authorial voice employed here.

Moving on.
Profile Image for Mike.
502 reviews378 followers
April 20, 2017
I always find it a bit tricky to review mystery novels. As a staunch anti-spoiler fanatic I often err to the side of not giving too much away, but that does run the risk of leaving reviews of the books, especially the good ones, a bit bare. Fortunately this book is also science fiction so there is plenty to dig into in that sphere.

I have always maintained that good science fiction isn't about space ships and lasers and aliens (though those qualities are always welcomed). Good science fiction is about making a change to society, be it technological, sociological, or environmental, and extrapolating how humanity will react to it. In this case the major sci-fi pivot point is clones. More specifically, the technology that allows for the growth of cloned bodies and the mapping of human minds to be implanted in those bodies. Sort of similar to the technology in Altered Carbon but with a few tweaks and a deeper dive into the history and consequences of cloning technologies.

The setting of this particular murder mystery is on a space ship that is delivering colonists to a new world. The book opens with the clone crew being awoke into a carnal house of blood and death, their former selves' death to be exact. Even more concerning is the loss of 25 years of memories as their mind maps (as such things are called) are updated to the day before the ship set off, nothing afterward. The only thing that is certain is that nearly the entire previous crew is dead (there is a survivor, which proves problematic since there are now two of the same person in existence, a big no-no in the future) and they all appeared to have been murdered. What follows is a atmosphere of paranoia as the clones try to make sense of what has happened and why.

Throughout the book we see the history of the clone crew members (and they ALL have a history, ones they would prefer remain hidden) as well as the history of clones within human society. Both of these histories inform the on going mystery of the killings and why the crew was selected. Oh, and there is also an amnesiac AI doing its best to keep the ship operating.

As far as the mystery goes I liked it a lot, though I thought the ending didn't quite live up to the amazing set up for it. The mystery kept be guessing the whole time and the backstories merely served to sharpen my interest in it.

As far as the science fiction goes I thought this was top notch. Lafferty did, in my opinion, a really great job exploring the many impacts the advent of cloning and mind map technologies would have on humanity as well as the policy and legal implications of the technology. For instance, clones can inherit all of their past live's property when they are reborn, allowing for a vast accumulation of wealth in some individuals. Alternatively, mindmaps and genetic data can be manipulative by hackers, altering a clone's behavior and beliefs while also being capable for use for more benevolent ends such as removing genetic diseases or deformities. And that doesn't even bring up the issue of religion and clones. Like I said, lots of angles to consider when introducing this type of technology to the world.

All in all the world Lafferty created was rich and vibrant, with many interesting characters and agendas. The fact there was also an interesting murder mystery on top was just a bonus. So if you enjoy mysteries and cerebral science fiction this book is right up your alley.
Profile Image for Lindsay.
1,275 reviews227 followers
February 12, 2017
Six new clones wake from their cloning vats to a scene of mass murder. The victims being the clone's predecessors. There is no-one else on board the starship, so the murderer must have been one of them, but the clones have no memory of it. So with a potential murderer on board and ship a victim of sabotage, the race is on to find out what's going on.

This book postulates a set of draconian rules around cloning of humans (the Codiciles) that has created two types of people, normal humans and nearly immortal clones, but criminalized a whole class of scientific and medical interventions that the technology enables. Thus we get a rich environment for all sorts of moral, societal and technological intrigue resulting in the drama playing out among the crew.

It's also extremely entertaining with the piecing together that the reader does as we learn each of the character's back stories and they uncover the events that led up to the catastrophic start of the book. Definitely one of the better books on the topic, and right up until something in the last couple of chapters I would have had it at 5 stars, but the plot resorts to hand-waving over a critical issue that threw me out of the book and made the resolution implausible.
Profile Image for Rachel (TheShadesofOrange).
2,214 reviews3,214 followers
February 6, 2017
4.0 Stars - Video Review: https://youtu.be/Ne7ad1KpN8U

This is a fantastic, suspenseful science fiction mystery novel that balances intrigue, excitement and the ethical challenges that emerge with technological advancements.

The premise behind this novel is fantastic. Essentially, the author designs a futuristic version of the traditional closed-room mystery by placing the story on an isolated ship in deep-space with a very small crew. This is such a refreshing take on the traditional mystery setup.

The novel starts out strong, with a gripping first chapter that is guaranteed to pull the reader into the mystery. The characters wake up without recent memories, placing the reader in the same ambiguous situation.

The story is told from multiple perspectives, shifting between the six crew members. These characters are all unique, diverse and fully developed people. It quickly becomes apparent that everyone has a murky past and plenty of secrets to hide. The chapters shift between the current timeline and flashbacks, slowly providing the reader with insight into the backstories of each character. All of the crew members are suffering from large gaps in their memories, which sets up a situation with six unreliable narrators. Essentially, the reader cannot trust any of the characters, because even the characters are uncertain of their own innocence. Along the course of the novel, the author slowly provides the pieces necessary to solve this intricately-plotted murder mystery.

The writing is strong, with clean, simple prose. I found the world building was understandable and easy to follow. Likewise, the technology was relatively straight-forward, including well-established future technology like food replicators and artificial intelligence. Other research discussed in the novel involved advancements in technology that already exists today.

I originally expected this to be only an entertaining science fiction thriller, so I was pleasantly surprised by the level of depth in this story. The author delves heavily into the ethical dilemmas surrounding technology such as cloning and DNA manipulation. Many of these moral issues are already applicable in our present day. It was fascinating to see how these technologies might be utilized and controlled in the future.

This is my first time reading Lafferty, but it certainly won't be my last. In this novel, she demonstrated the ability to write an immersive and engaging story with strong characters and narrative drive. I look forward to reading more from this talented author.

This is a cross-genre novel, which masterfully weaves together the best elements of science fiction, mystery and suspense. This would be an excellent novel to pick up for readers who normally read one of these genres and is interested in expanding their reading. I would recommend this novel to science fiction readers looking for an intelligent and suspenseful story. I would further recommend this book to fellow fans of mysteries and thrillers who are willing to venture out of their comfort zones and experience a futuristic version of a psychological suspense.

I requested an ARC from Orbit Books in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for YouKneeK.
660 reviews80 followers
November 28, 2022
This was another one of my series-sampling audio listens, to see if I might want to pursue it in print someday. The verdict: probably, if the author ever writes more.

Audio Narration
The narrator was the author of the book, Mur Lafferty. Her reading wasn’t bad, but she clearly isn’t a professional audio narrator. The narration was pretty flat, and there wasn’t any attempt to differentiate between character voices. It wasn’t usually confusing to follow, but there were a few occasions when I had trouble telling who was speaking. On the other hand, it didn’t have any of the irritating quirks that voice actors sometimes bring to a narration like overly dramatized or ridiculous-sounding voices for characters of the opposite sex or unnecessarily melodramatic narration.

At the beginning of the story, the entire crew of a space ship wakes up in clone vats and discovers that all their previous clones have been murdered, but they have no memory of what happened. The story alternates between the present time as the characters try to figure out what happened and deal with the situation, and between past times as the back stories of all the involved characters are slowly unraveled to shed light on the mystery.

I liked this pretty well. The characters were interesting, and I liked the way the story was told. It took me over 2.5 months to listen to it even though it’s under 10 hours, but despite my slow pace it held my attention when I was listening to it. The story stayed in my head well enough that I didn’t feel very lost even when several weeks passed between listening sessions. I did tend to get a couple characters’ back stories mixed up though, and I’m sure I missed a lot of nuances and connections due to both my slow listening pace and the audio vs print format.

This book tells a complete story, but I was definitely curious at the end to know what would happen next. I’d read that the author had plans back in 2017 to write a sequel someday. I don’t know if that’s still planned, but I could see myself revisiting this in print if that happens. I’m rating this at 3.5 stars and rounding up to 4 for Goodreads.
386 reviews39 followers
August 17, 2020
A gripping, very suspenseful central mystery involving six (really eight) characters is told in third-person, semi-omniscient narration in which the point of view changes abruptly from one character to another and includes some but (crucially) not all of each one's thoughts and memories. I couldn't count how many times the point of view jumps--dozens, I'd say--but I did count nine separate flashbacks to key points in six characters' pasts.

This narrative structure has cost the novel a few stars from reviewers. Clearly, you have to be ready for the classical mystery technique in which the author is a kind of illusionist, withholding vital bits of information only to insert them at just the right moments to propel the story forward. I enjoy classical mysteries, and I was thoroughly involved in this one from the beginning, so part of the fun was the suspense of what I'm going to find out next. Still, the jumps from one point of view to the next combine with the incomplete disclosure in each scene to make reading something of a challenge.

The summary at the top of this Goodreads page sets up the story nicely. I'll just fill in here. The year is 2493. A spaceship built on the Moon and measuring three miles long and a mile and a half in diameter is carrying 2500 hopeful settlers in cryostasis on a journey that will last generations before it reaches their destination, an Earth-like planet in Tau Ceti. One-fifth of the passengers and the crew of six are clones, governed by seven very strict international cloning laws known as the Codicils and enacted in the year 2282.

The prologue lists the Codicils, and three of the flashbacks are also in 2282. A very important year for our mystery, then. Cloning is for longevity only, and if two clones of a person are alive at the same time the older one must be terminated. Mindmaps carry the memories and personalities of one lifetime into the next, and all clones must carry their most recent mindmap "in a drive on their person." Clones are formed from the living clone's DNA in a vat of synth-amnio fluid; when the living clone dies, the successor clone is awakened and the mindmap is inserted.

Here we go. All six clones of the spaceship's crew awaken at the same time, but there aren't any mindmaps beyond the ones their predecessors started with: no memory at all of the lives of the newly dead clones floating around in zero gravity. Most of the corpses died from stab wounds and there's blood floating around everywhere too. What happened to the artificial gravity? Why is the ship veering off course? What's happened to the ship's artificial intelligence system, called IAN and always referred to as "he"? IAN is supposed to be so much in control that he can countermand captain's orders. And where's the food printer?

We do get to know the characters, if only gradually. That's the six crew members--a captain, a security officer, an engineer, a programmer, a medical officer, and Maria the dogsbody (serves food, cleans) who's pretty much the main character--and two more who are vital to the mystery of what happened and the bigger mystery of how they're all going to survive. One of those is IAN, of course, and the other is the mastermind of the whole space voyage whom we meet in the flashbacks: Sallie Mignon, a trillionaire clone and patron of Obama University in Chicago.

There is indeed an element of humor here and there--I could have wished for more humor, in fact, to relieve the tension, but I'm really glad I read this book.
Profile Image for ash | spaceyreads.
349 reviews209 followers
April 14, 2017
Six Wakes starts off with a unique scene of murder in a spaceship. 6 clones wake up to find their previous selves murdered in baffling ways that they have no memory of, due to a hack in their memory.

Cue a series of who-did-what, accompanied with overused tropes and a clumsy attempt at writing group dynamics in an enclosed space. The characters were rather flat (their backstories are interesting but their personalities and motivations contrived and unnatural), which was a shame, because this set up would have been perfect for some interesting character growth. With writing that disregards the golden rule "show, don't tell", we get awkward sentences like this peppered throughout the book:

His voice had a conversational tone that sounded like he was really talking about sports instead of their lives.

Wolfgang stood there as if he found three other crimes she had committed.

3.5 stars, some merit for the interesting premise and the well-developed backstories of the clones and the journey they went through up til the point where they were employed to be part of the crew. The book does go into detail about their individual lives some point in the middle of the book and it picked up from there.

Overall, a good, lighthearted read, but I had to skim a lot to get to the interesting bits.
Profile Image for Carlos.
621 reviews291 followers
July 9, 2017
4 1/2 stars for me .. this was such a fun book, kept me in the edge all the time while i was reading. This is basically a who done it mystery but set in space, throw in technology far above ours, clones, a mysterious AI computer , a killer who might have forgotten his/her reason to kill everyone on board on the loose ,and a ship crewed by criminals who don't know who either of them was before they met on the ship , but are connected in a way that they won't find out till the end ..and what an end. The book starts when the crew are cloned back to life ( in this timeline minds are stored in the computer who can downland that info into a new clone body when the body being used is no longer active...ie dead) and find their own bodies have been murdered but have no memory of why and who ......it only gets better from there...slow start though ..I didn't get into it until page 50-70 but then i could not stop.
Profile Image for Emily .
779 reviews80 followers
February 26, 2017
4.5 stars - I read about this book in an email newsletter. I have never heard of this author, but I'm glad I read it anyway. It was fantastic - I was hooked from the first page. The six (clone) crew of a generational space ship awake in new clone bodies and find their own previous bodies murdered and no memory of the last 25 years (That's basically the first page of the book). This is a action packed murder/mystery in space, and if you read sci-fi there's a good chance you'll like this one.

I suspect there will be a follow up book if this one is successful - the story gets completely wrapped up, but there is clearly room for more -which is great, except that I will not remember what happened in this book by the time the next one comes out. Regardless...read this.
Profile Image for Aditi.
920 reviews1,345 followers
August 3, 2017
“It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.”


Mur Lafferty, an American author, has penned an intriguing science fiction thriller called, Six Wakes that centers around a spaceship carrying six crew members, where each one wakes up as a clone with no memory or record of what happened or who killed them, but only with the memory of dying. And as their bloody bodies floated around the space ship under zero gravity and with the ship's controlling AI being offline, the six crew members are pretty sure that someone amongst them must have killed them, but why? Set in the 25th century, this story is going to thrill the readers in a subtle manner.


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.

Maria Arena is the first to wake up inside her cloning vat, only to be greeted by the sight of dead bodies, blood and everything floating around in zero gravity in the generation starship called, Dormire, carrying a cargo of six individuals to the planet of Artemis, with no memory of how she died or what happened since she and the others boarded the spaceship, only with the memories of her long time ago past. Eventually, one-by-one and after a long wait of their previous bodies' permanent death, Captain Katrina de la Cruz, pilot Akihiro Sato, security chief Wolfgang, engineer Paul Seurat, and Dr. Joanna Glass woke up to find themselves surrounded by the death and zero gravity and also with their ship's controlling artificial intelligence, IAN, being offline. Hence they have no idea how they all died or why or who killed, even though it is very obvious that the killer is in that ship and someone from the six passengers. And with no memory backup, the lives of the six individuals are doomed, so they must hurry and figure out the gory mystery behind their murders.

Although, I'm not much big of a fan of science fiction books, yet this book allured me, for being a thriller, (I'm a die hard thriller fan, be it of whatever or any kind) and also for the concept of cloning, which is my favorite sci-fi topic to explore. And Lafferty’s book not only covers both the things aptly but also intrigues all through out. (PS: For a seasoned crime fiction reader, it will be easy enough to predict the whodunit!) The author has explored and has introduced her readers with a world that allows multiple cloning until immortality but with lots of terms and conditions and strict laws, so that no one abuses the option of cloning.

The world building with the prospect of cloning and future advanced technology to preserve mankind is strikingly explained and depicted by the author into the story line. Although not believable, but somehow, the author has managed to make her readers find the honesty and logic behind such a superficial universe. A world where mankind can be exploited both with cloning and with corruption. Yes it was thrilling for me to experience such a make-believe future world.

The writing is strong and articulate and is laced with enough tension that will grip its readers and will keep them engaged till the very end. The narrative is not that engaging enough to peak the readers' interests, but with a fast pace and with zero technical jargon filled with lots of unforeseeable twists and turns, the plot will only become more and more intense. The mystery is tightly wrapped under layers and dimensions of backstories and twists and the edgy suspense is bound to make the readers anticipate till the very last page.

The characters are not only well developed but are also multi dimensional, which only makes them real and relatable in the eyes of the readers. There is a huge twist about the characters' real identity, and although some of the reviewers have shamelessly mentioned that, yet I would refrain myself from repeating it. And its the key thing that will compel the minds' of the readers with fear and tension. All the characters will intrigue in their own way and with their fatal psychological flaws, they will coil around the minds of the readers like a snake. The characters are the "cherry-on-the-top" of this book, they steal the complete show.

In a nutshell, this book is thoroughly engrossing and extremely captivating enough to keep the readers turning the pages of this book frantically.

Verdict: Interesting sci-fi space and futuristic thriller that is perfect also for the mystery fans.

Courtesy: Thanks to the author, Mur Lafferty, for giving me an opportunity to read and review this book.
Profile Image for TL .
1,880 reviews52 followers
June 8, 2018
Writing: 3.5 stars
Characters and Plot 3.5 stars
Entertainment factor: 4 stars

This was a random add to my wishlist on Amazon when I was looking at another book (and a birthday gift from my good friend David, thanks!)

The writing here isn't the best and the plot takes awhile to get going while setting everything up but once we get to know everyone's histories and once more things go haywire, the story picks up.
(Run off sentence? Yes... aah well:-P)

Anyways, this kept my interest enough to keep going and see what would happen. The cloning aspect of it and what happened in each person's lives was very interesting.
A few connections I did not expect were very surprising and clever.

IAN, the AI reminded me of Jarvis a bit in his own way. And his story isn't any less complicated than the others.

Hiro's circumstances and Wolfgang.. wow. I wanted to kick quite a few people across the galaxy for them is all I will say.

The reveal of everything was... something. How everything connected together was quite good. It had me laughing a bit and shaking my head as the last thread came unraveled.

The ending had me pouting a bit, I wanted more.. to see what happened when the crew and passengers reached their destination. *looks hopefully at author*

Makes me wonder what will happen when a certain... person finds out
Profile Image for Erik.
341 reviews272 followers
March 23, 2018
Six Wakes begins with a fairly standard sci-fi milieu: Cloning technology has allowed those with the wealth and motivation to essentially become immortal by continually re-cloning themselves. This has caused a rift in society between the clones and the non-clones, such that cloning has become highly regulated, and, in fact, the very first page of the book offers the International Law Regarding the Codicils to Govern the Existence of Clones. Though we get a handful of flashbacks for world and character building, the book is primarily set on a generation ship whose cargo hold is filled with the frozen bodies of humans and the mindmaps of clones. It is crewed by six clones, the six characters we will be spending the majority of our time with.

So pretty standard sci-fi fare, but Mur Lafferty has infused the whole setting with an extra kick of vitality by turning it into a murder mystery!

See, Six Wakes begins roughly twenty-five years into the generation ship’s journey, with these six clones waking up in the ship’s cloning room, in a new clone body, with no memories of those past twenty five years. And worse, the dead bodies of their previous clones are floating there, clearly murdered. Oh, and yeah, every member of the crew has a criminal past. Cue: murder mystery or, as others have called it, CLUE in Spaaaaace!

Now, I’m a huge fan of murder mystery puzzles. Unfortunately, they’re extremely difficult to write, to the point where I rarely read them anymore (actually, the best murder mystery I’ve read was a Japanese visual novel called Umineko no Naku Koro ni, which is inspired by Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None). Murder mysteries are difficult because not only must they possess all the requirements of any other story (engaging characters, a plot, etc), but they’ve also got an extra layer of interaction with the reader. They’re asking the reader to try his/her hand at ‘solving’ the crime before the story characters do. Given this, a good murder mystery must pay extra special attention to the details and the logic of those details. Any plot holes, inconsistent or convenient character motivations or actions, broken science/technology, etc WILL be noticed by the reader.

So Six Wakes is in a tough spot. On one hand, the actual sociopolitical elements of the story - primarily the conflict between conservatives opposed to new technology and those who embrace it - have been done a million times before, and better than they are here. So the murder mystery aspect is essential. But on the other hand, as a murder mystery, the details matter, and the details are simply not well executed. In fact, the more you think about them, the more you realize just how haphazardly they were treated. So I’d give Six Wakes 2.5 stars rounded down, but I did read it in about three days and will therefore round its 2.5 stars up to 3 on account of it being an easy-reading page-turner.

Now the sheer quantity of my issues with the details of The Six Wakes is such that I couldn’t possible write them all. Instead, I’m going to offer ONE stream-of-consciousness chain of issues to serve as an example (p.s. SERIOUS spoiler alert):

And that's only a small fraction of my issues with mystery details. Raymond Chandler once wrote that the "solution [of a mystery], once revealed, must seem to be inevitable." That's because when we read a book (and we're interested in it), we're constantly guessing what's going to happen next, but we're not making a single guess. Our brains are making thousands of guesses, churning through the possibilities, preparing us for whatever future reality may arise. We aren't sure WHICH solution is true, which is why we want to keep reading, but if the book is well-written, then ONE of our guesses should be the correct one. That's why the revealed solution feels inevitable: it's a neat little trick of hindsight bias. We forget about all our other guesses and say, Ah, yes, we knew this.

Well, the solution of the mystery in Six Wakes doesn't feel inevitable. It feels contrived, because it is.

And there's deeper problems too. There’s a serious lack of complex character desires. They all basically want to stay alive, which makes their character arcs very flat. Much of the science/tech is so erroneous as to be magic, which is a serious problem for a murder mystery. There’s a reason fantasy murder mysteries basically don’t exist. Then – and I couldn’t quite put my finger on exactly why – the dialogue sometimes struck me as very strange. Some other lines, too, were just weird, most prominently one chapter ending with the line, “Maria has a thankless job. We should be more grateful to her," which (given the context) was a super bizarre way to end the chapter.

Basically, The Six Wakes is not a bad book, but it is a bad murder mystery, which is unfortunate since, if you remove the murder mystery, you’re left with some flat characters and a very common sci-fi milieu. I'm all about genre blends, but this one, alas, just doesn't satisfy.
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,406 reviews11.7k followers
May 3, 2018
3.5 stars

Cinematic and would make a cool sci-fi show a la "Altered Carbon."

It is clearly written by a person very well versed in sci-fi - the "hard" part of the story is strong - the whole cloning theory is meticulously developed. It's the "soft" part that is lacking - characters, emotions, relationships are weak; not enough drama, not enough heart. While all main characters have interesting stories, they never felt fully realized and I never had any kind of attachment to them. It may be because of the narrator too. Lafferty narrated her novel, but I don't think she has the acting chops to bring the best out of her story.

Entertaining mystery though.
Profile Image for Carlex.
534 reviews100 followers
November 10, 2017
English: on the blog: "review reviewed": https://girotix.blogspot.com.es/2017/...

Español: reseña en el blog: https://girotix.blogspot.com.es/2017/...

Three and half stars.

Six characters, all clones, wake up in a spaceship and they discover six corpses (their former clones) that have been murdered...

In other words, the novel is an intrigue about a puzzling multiple murder, but also a great speculation about a society in which cloning is legally (and illegally) possible (not spoilers here, this is seen in the firsts pages).

Precisely, one of the strengths of “Six Wakes” is some brilliant ideas about cloning, but also the worldbuilding is good: for example, “the pig-maker” (a big food printer which can create an entire pig).

The characters are well developed and in a plausible way they show how being a clone can transform human psychology. And there is also an AI who is a real nuisance.

The last third of the book is a bit confusing for me, because the plot is so entangled… but at the end all is explained and the resolution of the intrigue is correct.
Profile Image for Deborah Ideiosepius.
1,676 reviews132 followers
April 8, 2021
This was an excellent whodunnit in space, it far exceeded my expectations.

It combines all the interesting elements of a good, science fiction novel. It takes place on a star ship using future technology such as cry frozen humans to settle a far world, clones to fly the spaceship and an active AI to manage the ship. We start with one crew member waking in a new clone and realising slowly that things have gone very wrong in the grand plan. All the clones are new, which should not happen, the ship is semi functional, (they don't know why) and murder has occurred. Most importantly, the clone memory backups are well out of date, so they do not know what happened.

The murder mystery was a really well designed one, I never found any of it predictable, even when one feels one knows WHO (and I was mostly wrong about that) the WHY is the truly fascinating element without which knowledge the hand carrying the knife is almost irrelevant. Though, obviously, not to the people on board. The other thing I really liked was that the whole thing is not from a single POV. We get the viewpoint of all the different crew members, both in the present and in the backstories. Despite this, there are no spoilers since the crew have not had their memories backed up, they themselves have no way of knowing what might have occurred, and most of them harbour doubts, or have a background compatible with violence.

In addition to the actual ship, I really enjoyed the world that the crew have come from. Through he backstories, we see a world with cloning, mind mapping, mind hacking and we see it from several different angles, different social strata so the world building feels very rounded. Impressive world building.

When it came to the overall story I enjoyed the pace of writing, the characterisation and dialogue and I especially liked the slow reveal that was used for all the different elements of the story and the ship. The technology comes to light piece by piece, the characters slowly form in the scenario before we get their full backstories. The background society comes together like a jigsaw from the backstories of the crew.

The whodunnit falls together masterfully.
Profile Image for Veronique.
1,253 reviews182 followers
February 14, 2017
Crime mystery in space with clones - indeed, I couldn't resist either.

Suspenseful and compelling, the story grabbed me early on. I particularly liked the way the narration was structured, giving voice to each of the 6 characters, following them in this claustrophobic situation while charting their past, piece by little piece, each shedding a different light on the whole picture.

The world Lafferty offers us is a complex one too, where the very existence of clones, and the technology that has permitted this, has challenged the very nature of humanity on pretty much all levels. These are reflected throughout the plot in a fascinating way.

On the other side of the coin, some might feel that a part of the resolution was a little far-fetched or too obvious (but then the ship is after all named from a word that means ‘Sleep’). Likewise, some strands of the plot could be said to being too neat. Nevertheless, I must admit I really didn’t mind these because I was having so much fun :O)
Profile Image for Annye.
176 reviews9 followers
May 31, 2017
Six Wakes is billed as a sci-fi thriller and murder mystery, but the thrill was on the mild side and the mystery reveal was disappointing. The sci-fi aspects of the story were interesting and thought-provoking, but for me the sci-fi elements couldn’t make up for lackluster plotting.

The premise for Six Wakes is that a small crew is piloting a generation ship on its way to Earth’s first non-Lunar colonization, taking with them hundreds of people and the supplies to build a home on a new planet. That small crew is composed of clones – hundreds of years and several clone-iterations old, some of them – who, through a cool sci-fi element, can move their current minds into each new clone. Unfortunately, someone has murdered the crew and erased their most up to date minds, creating the murder mystery aspect of the book. Who murdered the crew’s previous incarnation, and, more importantly, who erased their minds?

The best aspect of this book is the ethical questions it raises – especially since the minds, essentially very complex computer code, can be hacked. If three clones of one person are made at the same time, which one of those clones is the “real one”? If a person awakes with a mind 50 years younger than it should be, is that person responsible for his or her “older” clone’s crimes? If a clone commits suicide, should they be re-cloned and re-woken up?

While I enjoyed pondering these questions, I was frustrated by the way Lafferty answered some of them. She’s created some world-building which is convenient for her plot, but which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. For example:

I also found the murder mystery piece of this novel wholly unsatisfying (the ), and I didn’t find the twists surprising or compelling.

Overall, I found Six Wakes a fun book to read, but I wish it had had more substance and less convenient, illogical world-building.
Profile Image for Trike.
1,530 reviews162 followers
November 6, 2022
I didn’t hate this. Lemme splain. The tired trope of “woke up without a memory” irks me. It’s been used, by my count, let’s see... carry the two... multiply by videogame... ah, eleventy bajillion times. Dear all authors: Stop. Fucking. Using it.

At least here there’s a reason for it, so it is marginally less loathsome than when usually employed. Cloning is easy, as is recording someone’s memories, there’s been a murder, memories weren’t reinstalled in the new clones, yadda yadda.

And let me be the 307th person to point out that this bears a remarkable resemblance to the Syfy TV series Dark Matter, which has the exact same plot (criminals wake up sans memory aboard a spaceship), the exact same number of characters (6 people, one AI/robot), and pretty much everything else. The show was based on a 2012 comic. I didn’t read the comic or watch the show long enough to know if it turns out the same, but it’s dangerously similar. The show started airing two years before this book was published, too, so there’s that.

They’re both sort of space-based locked room mysteries, which isn’t unique, and this suffers by comparison to the excellent clone mysteries written by John Varley in the 1970s and 80s.

Lafferty does a good job aligning all of the puzzle pieces, but I never got a sense of tension or malice in the story. Because I’ve been having severe eye issues for the past year which have worsened into cataracts lately, I’ve been listening to audiobooks. This one was read by the author herself, and she’s not the greatest actor ever. That factor really robbed the story of a lot of its punch.

I did appreciate she used every bit of tech she had set up, and some of it quite cleverly, which is one big reason it was able to overcome the liabilities mentioned above.
Profile Image for Brent.
355 reviews147 followers
May 27, 2020
A cross between the Dark Matter tv show and Mayflies. Interesting ideas, muffled execution.

I was reminded of the old Flash Gordon serials with Buster Crabbe as characters race from one location to the next for reasons that feel more driven by the author's need to change things up than by believable motivations.

Not a bad story, but not award-winning either.
Profile Image for Scott  Hitchcock.
779 reviews235 followers
June 29, 2018

Future, clones, mind replacement.....it's been done before and better. There was nothing new and I never connected with any of the characters or the storylines.
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