In a nutshell, is a closed room murder mystery in SPACE! With clones! What that gives us is an absolutely wonderful variation on the tropes. Because of cloning technology, you can very well have a murder mystery where the cast wake up to the gruesome (zero gee) murder of … the entire cast. And because it’s a generation ship in deep space, you very well know that one of the cast absolutely has to have been the muderer… Unless it was more than one.
My favorite parts of the worldbuilding all really revolve around technology of cloning and how that can change the world in fascinating ways. For example, it’s not uncommon for attendees at certain parties to end murdered. They’ll wake up in the morning, restored from a backup the day before with little more than a feeling of ’that must have been one hell of a party’ plus some potential embarrassment and go about their lives.
Add on to that the politics of clones. In this world, there can legally only be one active clone for a particular person. If two exist, the newer has priority and the older can legally be killed. Clones are considered their own children in some cases and can legally inherit from themselves (but must be otherwise sterilized). Which of course leads to all sorts of tensions between natural born humans and the increasing numbers of clones.
Add on to that the idea that the crew of the generation ship making up the story’s setting are all criminals of various sorts, sent on this ship with a chance at a new life, made possible specifically because of cloning technology?
It’s crazy and it’s awesome.
On top of that, I love the characters. Because of cloning, most (all) of the characters have hundreds of years of very complicated lives, which we get both from a bit of conversation between characters, but also backstories. And because it’s a murder mystery, it becomes increasingly clear how they’ve all impacted one anothers’ lives over the years. They’re all fascinating stories, but Hiro’s and Wolfgang’s stories in particular were quite the complicated surprises–they all are really, but those in particular.
Overall, I really did love this story. If you like sci fi or murder mysteries and especially if you like both, give it a try.
Also, the audiobook narration is worth it as well. I originally came across Mur Lafferty via the Escape Pod scifi podcast where she is an editor and sometimes hosts.