From Darkest Skies by Sam Peters
Five years after the murder of his wife and fellow agent Alysha, Keon Rause returns to the distant world of Magenta to resume work with the Intelligence Service.
With him he brings an illegal artificial recreation of his wife, an AI built from every digital trace she left behind.
She has been constructed with one purpose - to discover the truth behind her own death - but Keon’s relationship with her has grown into something more. Something that verges on love.
But as he investigates his wife’s death, Keon begins to realise that he didn’t know everything about Alysha. And if he couldn’t trust her, how can he trust her copy?
From Darkest Skies is Sam Peters’ impressive space sci fi debut novel, which he describes as being ‘a science fiction thriller wrapped around a love story’. A tale of obsession and loss, humanity has expanded out from Earth and advanced to a time of incredible connectivity, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t still feel alone.
The novel opens with the grief-worn and disgraced Agent Keon Rause who has been expelled from Earth after a security operation went wrong. Five years previously his wife Alysha was murdered by a bomb planted on a train back on his home planet of Magenta, with no explanation of why she was smuggled away on it or why that train was targeted. He is now making his was back to Magenta, the first time since he left, to take up his old detective post. With him travels the illegal AI of Alysha that he built using the digital scraps of her left online. He built her to help him search for answers, but is trapped in limbo with her ghost. Unable to move on from his obsessive picking over of her case, his sole drive is to solve the mystery, but what if Alysha isn’t the person he thought she was?
Back on Magenta with a team of ill-fitting agents under his command, work begins on an investigation into a mysterious drug-related death. Meanwhile, Keon uses the opportunity to dig out details from Alysha’s case that he was barred from accessing. Inevitably, the two investigations coincide as hidden laboratories and vanishing scientists appear in the wake of exploding drug users.
A key theme underlying the narrative is grief. Every time there’s a pause in the main story, Rause falls back into himself and his memories. We actually find out very little about him - no interests, no hobbies, no dreams beyond solving his wife’s murder. This is beautifully mirrored by the vast and unpredictable storms that sweep across Magenta and shut everything down; trapping people in place until the fury has passed and normal life can continue. Alongside this is the gruelling therapy he is undergoing to build up his body to cope with the higher gravity. Every day is both a mental and physical slog for him, but inch by inch he gets closer to what actually happened.
The AI Alysha, Liss, is referred to as being a ghost of the ‘real’ Alysha who lives in a ‘shell’ - the physical body she can move out of to interact with surrounding networks. Created from fragments of his wife gleaned from her digital footprint, she is a perfect copy in many ways of the human Alysha, but always present is the machine logic underneath, recreating her mannerisms too perfectly and a constant reminder of what Rause has lost. Is she actually helping him, or is she holding him back?
This is being pitched for fans of the TV programmes Westworld and Humans, but being a firm bibliophile it reminded me a lot more of Peter F Hamilton’s work. Not on the same immense scale by any means, but there’s the same blend of high tech sci fi mystery focused around massive secretive corporations and the casual way human life can be terminated, tethered to a very human, emotional base. I thoroughly enjoyed it and with two more sequels due, it’s a solid and promising start.
This From Darkest Skies book review was written by Cat Fitzpatrick
Have you read From Darkest Skies?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
From Darkest Skies reader reviews
8/10 from 1 reviews
There are currently no reader reviews for this book. Why not be the first?
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet
When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn't expecting much. The Wayfarer, a patched-up ship that's seen better days, offers her everything she co...
Marjorie B Kellogg
Set in the future on a distant world, Lear’s Daughters tackles the issues of global warming, pollution, exploitation of resources, and disastrous climate change. Long...
Iain M Banks
It begins in the realm of the Real, where matter still matters. It begins with a murder. And it will not end until the Culture has gone to war with death itself. Lededje Y&...
The burgeoning new economies in near-Earth space are fuelled by a steady stream of comets, steered back home by huge nuclear-powered mining ships like Bella Lind’s Ro...
The Naked God
Peter F Hamilton
The Confederation is starting to collapse politically and economically, allowing the 'possessed' to infiltrate more worlds. Quinn Dexter is loose on Earth, destroyi...
The very far future: The Galaxy is a drifting wreck of black holes, neutron stars, chill white dwarfs. The age of star formation is long past. Yet there is life here, feedi...
When Streaker - the first starship designed and crewed by dolphins - discovers a derelict ancient armada with evidence of the first sentient species ever, she sets off a wa...
For twelve thousand years the Galactic Empire has ruled supreme. Now it is dying. But only Hari Seldon, creator of the revolutionary science of psychohistory, can see into ...
James SA Corey
Humanity has colonized the solar system - Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond - but the stars are still out of our reach. Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making r...
An Ancient Peace
The centuries-long war between the Confederation and The Others, a group of violent alien species, is over. Intergalactic peace is finally restored. Torin Kerr and her crew...
During all recorded history, the Moon has hovered above our heads, a timeless symbol for lovers' ecstasy. Goddesses & Gibson Girls have tripped the light fantastic ...
Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It’s a prestige posting, ...
James SA Corey
On Ganymede, breadbasket of the outer planets, a Martian marine watches as her platoon is slaughtered by a monstrous supersoldier. On Earth, a high-level politician struggl...
The Uplift War
As galactic armadas clash in quest of the ancient fleet of the Progenitors, a brutal alien race seizes the dying planet of Garth. The various uplifted inhabitants must batt...
Old Man's War
John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. First he visited his wife's grave. Then he joined the army. The good news is that humanity finally made it into interste...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages:
Books of the Month
A selection of books - old and new alike - that were a joy to read.
Forget the old days. Forget summer. Forget warmth. Forget anything that doesn’t help you survive in the endless white wilderness beyond the edges of a fallen world. Lynn McBride has learned much since society collapsed in the face of nuclear war and the relentless spread of disease. As the memories of her old life continue to haunt, she...
Paris was supposed to save Hallie. Now... well, let’s just say Paris has other ideas. There’s a strange woman called The Chronometrist who will not leave her al...
A corrupted city. A dark dream of power. Luke is a prisoner, condemned for a murder he didn’t commit. Abi is a fugitive, desperate to free him before magic breaks his...
The Fifth Empire of Man
Rob J Hayes
The Pirate Isles are united under Drake Morrass’ flag, but the war has only just begun. There’s still a long way to go before he’s able to call himself Ki...
Ian C Esslemont
After the disappointments of Li Heng, Dancer and Kellanved wash up on a small insignificant island named Malaz. Immediately, of course, Kellanved plans to take it over. To ...
Age of Swords
Michael J Sullivan
Raithe, the God Killer, may have started the rebellion by killing a Fhrey, but long-standing enmities dividing the Rhunes make it all but impossible to unite against the co...
A Time of Dread
The Ben-Elim, a race of warrior angels, once vanquished a mighty demon horde. Now they rule the Banished lands. But their dominion is brutally enforced and their ancient en...