Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.
It’s Michelle Campion’s first mission, accompanying a transport ship to the colony planet Bloodroot. She’ll be asleep for most of it, and the ship’s AI will take care of everything. She’s there just in case something goes wrong, even though AI’s never fail… Yet when she awakes ten years later, the AI is down and some of her passengers are missing.
Far From the Light of Heaven is a fantastic addition to the something bad happened while we were in statis sub-genre. At its core is a murder mystery, with thirty-one passengers dead while everyone was asleep and the ship’s AI out of action. She discovers the gory remains of some of them, unsure if the killer is still onboard.
Is Ragtime itself the killer? If personhood can be contemplated, why not malfunctioning personhood? Humans have killed each other from the start. Uncomfortable thought, though. A murdership reduces the probability of survival considerably.
When Shell calls down to Bloodroot for support, they send up Rasheed Fin, a repatriator currently on suspension. He doesn’t do space but it’s his chance to get his job back after a past mission went bad. His job is one unique to Bloodroot, and the context is revealed throughout the story.
Across the vastness of space, the Lagos space station gets wind that the Ragtime hasn’t reported its arrival at Bloodroot. An old family friend sets off to assist Shell, with his daughter in tow, together with Fin’s Artificial assistant, this makes up the investigative team on the Ragtime. Soon even more things start to go wrong, and they are in a race against time to save themselves, and the hundreds of souls still asleep in their pods.
It was nice to see a colony planet that has decided to learn from Earth’s mistakes, especially in contrast to the backstory which involves a quintillionaire in space and the human exploitation that got him there. Even now, the technology we have all come to rely on is sourced from precious metals mined from the Earth in countries with poor human rights records. What if those elements were so toxic that your job was a death sentence and exile all rolled into one?
It’s strange that space is at its most beautiful when it’s killing you.
I liked that this wasn’t a too far-fetched vision of space travel. It takes ten years for the Ragtime to reach Bloodroot form Earth, and Shell can’t just leap out of stasis without ill effects. Space is an ever present deadly spectre, if you don’t fix things quick, you die.
I guess murders in space are kind of a trend right now, but this one’s definitely worth adding to your TBR. And yes the wolf on the cover is relevant.
Far From the Light of Heaven is published by Orbit and will be available in paperback and ebook editions from 28th October 2021. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.
Goodreads | Amazon* | Waterstones | Hive | Wordery | Blackwell’s* | Bookshop.org*
*indicates an affiliate link