The Salvation Gambit

Del Rey: Ballantine. Sept. 2023. 320p. ISBN 9780593499757. pap. $18. SF
Skrutskie explores what happens when a crew of con artists end up on a prison spaceship controlled by a sentient AI. For Murdock and the other members of Hark’s crew, their run of successful scams has finally come to an end, and they’ve been ingested into the Justice, home to 10,000 of the galaxy’s sinners who now live under the watchful AI controlling the ship. And the Justice is particularly interested in Murdock and her skills as a hacker. The self-declared AI god hopes to convert Murdock to worship it, but her devotion to her crew might be too strong. To have any hope of escaping, Murdock has to find a way to navigate the complex society that has formed on board the ship and keep Hark’s little band of misfits together. The novel features characters with a variety of backgrounds and a queer romance and also tackles some thorny modern ethical questions about crime and punishment.
VERDICT Skrutskie builds upon her success with the “Bloodright Trilogy,” delivering a space-opera thriller that pits humans against each other and against artificial intelligence, with an exciting plot that starts strong and only gets stronger.
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