Cover of first edition
|Media type||Print (paperback)|
The Dormire is a starship carrying thousands of prospective colonists from Earth to Artemis, a planet in the Tau Ceti star system. All the passengers are in coldsleep; only a six-person crew of cloned former criminals remains awake through the generations-long journey, each of them recloned and reimprinted with their continually updated memories as they age and die.
But something has gone wrong. The latest clone of crew member Maria Arena awakens twenty-five years into the voyage to discover her most recent self, and those of the rest of the crew, murdered, and her accumulated memories of the whole trip wiped. The new clones of the other crew members prove equally amnesiac as they awaken, and IAN, the ship's guiding artificial intelligence, has been crippled and is taking the starship off course.
The crew of the Dormire has a mystery and crisis to resolve—who has murdered their previous selves and sabotaged the voyage, and how can they get things back on track? For all they know, the culprit could be any one of them. Suspects include Captain Katrina de la Cruz, pilot and navigator Akihiro Sato, security chief Wolfgang, engineer Paul Seurat, ship's doctor Joanna Glass—and Maria herself.
Six Wakes was a preliminary nominee for the 2017 BSFA Award for Best Novel and a finalist for the 2018 Philip K. Dick Award, the 2018 Hugo Award for Best Novel, and the 2018 Nebula Award for Best Novel.
The reviewer for Kirkus Reviews seems puzzled by the author's "venture into science-fiction horror" after her "hilarious" earlier novel The Shambling Guide to New York City, opining "[y]ou have to wonder why, given Lafferty's manifest talent for humor, she didn't simply play it for laughs." The initial setup is rated "familiar to mystery fans" and "[m]aybe ... just too devious for its own good." Moreover, "the narrative never quite lives up to [its] remarkable opening. Momentum dissipates amid frequent pauses to belabor the cloning process and laws relating to clone succession, not to mention a succession of scientific howlers ... Still, as the characters delve separately and together into their previous lives in search of an explanation for their predicament, the tension rises, personalities are revealed, and common factors emerge—some of them, we learn, are retired, recovering, or repurposed homicidal maniacs." In summation, the reviewer concedes that "readers easily captivated and not overly concerned with structural dependability will find much to entertain them."
Publishers Weekly calls the novel "a tense nail-biter of a story fueled by memorable characters and thoughtful worldbuilding" that "explores complex technological and moral issues in a way that’s certain to earn it a spot on award ballots."
Emily Compton-Dzak, writing in Booklist, finds the book "a perfect blend of science fiction and mystery, complete with Clue-like red herrings and thought-provoking philosophizing about the slippery slope of cloning technology." She calls it "[h]ighly recommended for Firefly fans and fans of a good mystery."
Megan M. McArdle in Library Journal writes "Lafferty ... delivers the ultimate locked-room mystery combined with top-notch sf worldbuilding. The puzzle of who is responsible for the devastation on the ship keeps the pages turning."
LaShawn M. Wanak in Lightspeed likens the novel to "a mash-up of The Thing and Clue" that "shines best when focusing on its mystery and thriller aspect," noting that "Lafferty does a good job of creating an atmosphere of tension and paranoia as the crew tries to figure out who the murderer is." She feels "[t]here is some infodumping, but I found it fascinating; [Lafferty] could easily write two or three books based on the ethics of cloning." Wanak praises the cast of characters as "delightfully diverse" but finds the ending "a little too neat, and ethically troubling, in light of all the focus that is put on clones and humans being treated well."
- Six Wakes title listing at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- 2018 Hugo Awards, at TheHugoAwards.org; retrieved July 18, 2018
- 2017 Nebula Awards, at Science Fiction Writers of America; retrieved July 18, 2018
- Review in Kirkus Reviews, v. 84, iss. 22, Nov. 15, 2016.
- "Review in Publishers Weekly v. 263, iss. 48, Nov. 28, 2016, p. 52.
- Compton-Dzak, Emily. Review in Booklist v. 113, iss. 8, Dec. 15, 2016, p. 33.
- McArdle, Megan M. Review in Library Journal v. 141, iss. 20, Dec. 15, 2016.
- Wanak, LaShawn M. Review in Lightspeed iss. 81, Feb. 2017.