Far from the Light of Heaven by Tade Thompson
Title: Far from the Light of Heaven
Author: Tade Thompson
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group UK, Orbit
Published Date: October 28th 2021
Length: 400 pages
Genre: Fiction, Science Fiction, Mystery Thriller, Space Opera, Adult Fiction.
The colony ship Ragtime docks in the Lagos system, having travelled light years from home to bring one thousand sleeping souls to safety among the stars.
Some of the sleepers, however, will never wake – and a profound and sinister mystery unfolds aboard the gigantic vessel. Its skeleton crew are forced to make decisions that will have repercussions for all of humanity’s settlements – from the scheming politicians of Lagos station, to the colony planet of Bloodroot, to other far flung systems and indeed Earth itself.
I have loved Tade Thompson’s writing and the interesting things that happened in those books. This one also did not disappoint. Imagine you are finally a captain to a spaceship, you are already nervous about it but you have been reassured by the company because the main captain is really the AI and you would literally fly through without any worries. Yeah, we all know how that’s gonna go.
Michelle ‘Shell’ Campion is a young captain who’s going out to proper space for the maiden journey as a captain. Everything seemed to be routine as the journey actually begins however she’s suddenly woken up near the end of the journey and to her horror, she finds that there’s been a murder on board and the AI is no longer answering and has possibly been wiped off. The AI she does have is a vastly reduced version of the original. On the other side of the story is a colony planet (Bloodroot) of people who are not quite on par with Earth anymore on any level, not by ethics or morals but also as a community.
There’s tons of side characters that truly work so well but the detective and AI duo is the one I truly stan if I am being honest. His story is pretty haunting, I am not gonna lie. The characters including Shell serve the purpose of moving the story along and with little flashback moments, we get more and more context of each character and it’s so well done. I will say that this story is not character focused so I am not gonna talk a lot about the characters.
The story itself is like a space opera version of the locked room mystery and a little bit of the movie Passengers blended with Murders on the Rue Morgue? If I am referencing the things correctly. The pacing is great, the tension is so well built throughout that I couldn’t stop reading the book. The mystery part is so good, the tiny bots turning on the humans on the ship was such a good trope and so well used too! The way characters behave under pressure and how each one is differently built was so obvious and well done. The parts about realistic space travel and how human bodies will be reacting to such things is also another plus factor. Since Thompson is a medical doctor himself, he could really bring that out in this book.
Another thing that I liked along with the realistic space travel was the way author established the stressors worked in Shell’s case as far as space travel and a murder mystery with a real threat surrounding her happened. I loved the way he showed how a brilliant young person when faced with something for the first time in a completely out of the box scenario could react and how it could affect people in general. I think I really enjoyed that a lot more than I thought I did while I was reading.
Overall, if you like fast paced thrillers with space travel thrown in with quite a few themes being explored at the same time as the events are unfolding then this is the book for you. There is nothing I enjoy more than a satisfying read and how this one revealed the political as well as the murder mystery really worked for me.