When Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty opens, the reader is thrust into the immediate aftermath of a grizzly murder scene. The six people waking up in the chapter with the reader are doubly disoriented by the situation since it’s their corpses that are floating around dead in zero gravity aboard a spaceship. These characters are, of course, clones, and this novel is, obviously, science fiction that portrays a future in which clones regenerate after every “death” and live alongside humans.
In between solving the crime of who killed their previous bodies, the reader is treated to flashbacks of previous lives and who the individual people aboard this ship are. Their lives are caught up in cloning rules and politics and each suffers as a victim in some way from humanity’s advancement in cloning technology. Lafferty does a good job of exploring what a world of clones and humans would look like, and, frankly, it seems like a relatively terrifying place.
One of the hot topics of the novel is whether or not cloning is morally ethical. Lafferty offers no answers, but really that’s not the point of the novel. Instead, the theme seems to be pondering what it means to be human. Do we have souls? Is life sacred or cheap? What happens when we play God? Is it good or bad or, at times, both? For all our medical and scientific advances, do we create more thorns in our sides or stitch together angel wings? Answers to these questions and more are once again left to the reader, but they are certainly questions worth asking.
We take our humanity for granted. We rarely dwell on the fact that we are living, breathing, thinking, conscious, complex beings. But it is good to remind ourselves of this from time to time. In fact, spring is a great time to think about this. As nature comes alive after a long, cold winter, we can consider our own life. Perhaps in hopping aboard this train of thought we will also consider our mortality and see ourselves as creatures–special creatures–but creatures nonetheless. That thought may then lead you to the notion that if you are a creature, there must be a Creator. From there, I pray that you would see God, as revealed in the Bible and Jesus Christ, as that Creator and that you would submit yourself to Him. Then, and only then, you will begin discovering what it truly means to be human.
This is a great sci-fi space mystery that leans into the sci-fi elements to enhance the mystery plot. The opening is especially gripping as you are dumped right into the mayhem of a murderous aftermath and little clues are revealed at every turn. As the book continues and focuses on backstory and theme, you start to lose interest in the initial mystery but Lafferty writes her characters so well you almost don’t mind. Mystery fans looking for something different should give this book a chance. They won’t be disappointed.