cover image Chaos Terminal

Chaos Terminal

Mur Lafferty. Ace, $17 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-0-593-09813-4

Lafferty’s rip-roaring second Midsolar Murders mystery (after Station Eternity) returns to the sentient space station Eternity, where reluctant sleuth Mallory Viridian contends with a cunning killer, a lost love, and a plethora of charming aliens. Because of Mallory’s unwitting connection to the Sundry, a wasplike hive mind, murders follow her wherever she goes—and she can’t resist investigating them. To escape all the death, she fled Earth for Station Eternity, a diplomatic outpost established to test the possibilities of coexistence between galactic-roaming species and a few fractious earthlings. Now, however, new humans are coming aboard—among them Mallory’s former best friend, her teenage crush, and an odious gossipmonger who turns up dead at the welcoming party. Of course, Mallory is drawn into the case. Lafferty does a solid job blending sci-fi worldbuilding and homicide investigation, though the plot feels a bit padded with flashbacks to Mallory’s past. Still, the colorful cast delights, replete with irresistible aliens who are mostly mystified by human behaviors, self-doubting AI space vehicles, and quirky human scientists, diplomats, and CIA agents. This whirlwind adventure is good fun. (Nov.)