In Six Wakes, The Dormire, a generational ship travelling to colonize the planet Athena, is manned by six clones and an AI. It is the responsibility of the clones, with the help of the AI, to fly the ship, make any needed repairs and keep the cargo of humans, clones and homesteading materials safe. Clones are chosen to man the ship due to the fact that the journey to Athena will take hundreds of years. And, unlike a human crew, when the clones die, the rest of the crew members recycle their bodies and use their mindmaps to create new bodies in the cloning bay. At least that’s how it’s supposed to work.
Unfortunately, when Maria Arena wakes up in the cloning bay after 25 years in space, she notices that she’s not the only clone to be newly created in the cloning bay. She also notices that the bay is splattered with blood and gore. And not just blood and gore, but floating blood and gore, due to the failure of the gravity drive. It is to this nightmare scene that Maria and the rest of the crew wake up to after being cloned following carnage none of them remember.
In the days that follow, Maria and the others try to solve the mystery of who violently murdered each of them. Unraveling the mystery results in the discovery of criminal pasts, from assassinations to hacking. But, there is also the bigger mystery of why these particular clones, with their particular criminal pasts, were hired to crew the Dormire on its journey to Athena. The author does a wonderful job handling both mysteries, but also leaves the door open for more. Which is fine with me; I would gladly welcome a sequel to this book.
In all, Six Wakes is an exciting, mostly easy read. I can’t say I understood all the ins and outs of cloning or mind-mapping, but that’s definitely on me and my lack of science knowledge. But, I can say that I found the moral arguments around the subject of cloning and genetic alterations to be fascinating and that, overall, the book is really a good example of speculative fiction. I’m giving it 3.5 stars.