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...
On the distant planet of Jijo, six exiled races live side by side. Only ancient relics from their home planets, fragments of half-forgotten stories and the crumbling ruins ...
Record of a Spaceborn Few
Centuries after the last humans left Earth, the Exodus Fleet is a living relic, a place many are from but few outsiders have seen. Humanity has finally been accepted into t...
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...
Great fantasy books published in 2017
The Fall of Arthur
The world first publication of a previously unknown work by J.R.R. Tolkien, which tells the extraordinary story of the final days of England’s legendary hero, King Ar...
The second thrilling installment of the award-winning Nevernight Chronicle, from New York Times bestselling author Jay Kristoff.In a land where three suns a...
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...
At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth....
A Conjuring of Light
The precarious equilibrium among the four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empi...
Beren and Luthien
Painstakingly restored from Tolkien’s manuscripts and presented for the first time as a continuous and standalone story, the epic tale of Beren and Lúthien wil...
The Witchwood Crown
New York Times-bestselling Tad Williams’ ground-breaking epic fantasy saga of Osten Ard begins an exciting new cycle! • Volume One of The Last K...
‘An exciting new writer – sharp, compelling and original’ Mark LawrenceYears have passed since the Vagrant journeyed to the Shining City, Vesper in...
A modern Britain. An age-old cruelty. Britain's magically skilled aristocracy compels all commoners to serve them for ten years - and now it's the Hadleys' turn...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages: