Far From the Light of Heaven

Orbit. Oct. 2021. 400p. ISBN 9780759557918. pap. $16.99. SF
Thompson (“Wormwood Trilogy”) leans on research to create a high-stress story set in the vastness of space. The giant colony ship Ragtime, controlled by AI pilots, left Earth 20 years ago with a thousand sleeping passengers on board who would start a new life in the far-off Lagos system upon awakening from their years-long journey. Among them is Michelle “Shell” Campion, on her first interstellar trip as first mate and contending with the legacy of her presumed-dead father. When the Ragtime arrives in the Lagos system, Shell awakens to find that the ship’s AI is down and 31 of her passengers are dead. Investigator Rasheed Fin arrives to help Shell learn what happened to the Ragtime; the decisions they make will impact not only themselves but all future space colonies. Shadowy politics, corporate secrets, and interstellar migration collide in a fast-paced enclosed murder mystery, filled with delightful details about medicine, murder, and the psychological effects of space. Multiple points of view keep the action current.
VERDICT A clever, haunting read from Arthur C. Clarke–winner Thompson.
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