Far from the Light of Heaven

Tade Thompson. Orbit, $16.99 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-0-7595-5791-8
After the AI fails aboard the colony ship Ragtime, first mate Shell Campion must figure out who’s responsible for a string of deaths in this inventive tale from Arthur C. Clarke Award–winner Thompson (the Wormwood trilogy). Starship AIs are supposed to be infallible, but when the Ragtime arrives at the colony planet Bloodroot, Shell wakes to find the ship in backup mode. The AIs are barely maintaining the ship, and 31 of the 1,000 sleeping passengers are dead. Thompson builds intrigue through clever story structure and shifting perspectives when Shell’s distress call to Bloodroot is answered by investigator Fin and his AI assistant, Salvo—and Shell jumps to the top of their suspect list. A fun dynamic emerges between logical Fin and no-nonsense Shell as it becomes clear that the ship AI is not just faulty but severely compromised, and a new question arises: how did a wolf get aboard the Ragtime? Though the resolution is rushed, with some details of the mystery arising too late to be truly satisfying, Thompson’s appealing take on long-distance space travel, subversion of typical AI tropes, tender characterization, and cleverly constructed suspense makes this worthwhile fare. Readers looking for a smart sci-fi mystery should snap this up. Agent: Alex Cochran, C&W. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 06/18/2021
Release date: 10/26/2021
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror
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