- Title: Station Eternity
- Author: Mur Lafferty
- Where to buy: Amazon (affiliate link)
- Genre: Sci-Fi, Mystery
- Would I recommend: Yes! Sci-fi with a nicely done mystery, and a lot of fun!
About the Book:
Amateur detective Mallory Viridian’s talent for solving murders ruined her life on Earth and drove her to live on an alien space station, but her problems still follow her in this witty, self-aware novel that puts a speculative spin on murder mysteries, from the Hugo-nominated author of Six Wakes.
From idyllic small towns to claustrophobic urban landscapes, Mallory Viridian is constantly embroiled in murder cases that only she has the insight to solve. But outside of a classic mystery novel, being surrounded by death doesn’t make you a charming amateur detective, it makes you a suspect and a social pariah. So when Mallory gets the opportunity to take refuge on a sentient space station, she thinks she has the solution. Surely the murders will stop if her only company is alien beings. At first her new existence is peacefully quiet…and markedly devoid of homicide.
But when the station agrees to allow additional human guests, Mallory knows the break from her peculiar reality is over. After the first Earth shuttle arrives, and aliens and humans alike begin to die, the station is thrown into peril. Stuck smack-dab in the middle of an extraterrestrial whodunit, and wondering how in the world this keeps happening to her anyway, Mallory has to solve the crime—and fast—or the list of victims could grow to include everyone on board….
STATION ETERNITY by Mur Lafferty
Ace Trade Paperback Original | On sale October 4, 2022
The kettle screamed its achievement of boiling water and Adrian jerked it off the element, wincing. He must have a hell of a headache, she thought. He retrieved a mug from his shelves above the sink and then a tea bag from a small basket on his counter. He went on with his tea-making ritual with his back to her.
Mallory grew tired of the silence. “Do you think Earth knows that someone else did the diplomatic negotiating? Think they’re sending someone to take your place?”
“Don’t bait me, Mallory,” he said quietly, picking up the mug in both hands and facing her. He inhaled the steam, eyes closed.
Mallory nearly said she hoped a new ambassador would offer their guests tea, but Adrian was pretty tightly wound right now. There was something alarming about the way he was keeping himself perfectly still, like a waiting snake. She mentally prepared herself to dodge a mug of boiling water if he let loose.
She cleared her throat. “May I also have some tea, please?” She asked it just the way her mother insisted she do when she was young.
He looked at her for a long moment as if he didn’t understand her words and then turned around, face still stony. Behind him, hanging below the shelves against the wall, was a wooden dowel. Slung over the dowel and secured with a thumbtack were about twenty used tea bags. He removed one and prepared her tea.
“An old tea bag? Really, Adrian?” she protested.
“I have to ration when I don’t know when I’ll get back home again,” he said woodenly. “If I’d known they were coming, I could have asked someone to bring me some more tea. I was denied that option.” He cleared his throat, and then his voice took on his smoother diplomatic tone. “About the incoming humans-it’s a good thing, Mallory. Trade will increase. Doctors will visit. Diplomats will come to make the situation better on Earth. We might get closer to negotiating for FTL technology. People will bring us news. Media. More books and games. I know you don’t like people, but it’s undeniable-“
She stopped him before he got into full diplomat monologue mode, holding up her hand. “Wait, wait, wait, you still think I don’t like people?” she echoed in disbelief. “Jesus, when are you going to believe me? I like people just fine. They just tend to not like me.”
He had the full diplomatic face on, and he smiled benignly and spread his hands in the classic way to defuse arguments without actually conceding. “What can I do to make things better? Can we find a compromise?”
“You can listen to me when I tell you that letting that shuttle dock will very likely result in someone getting killed,” she said, glaring at him from behind bangs that hadn’t been cut in three months. “You can go to your meeting and tell them to send the humans back home.”
“You knew this was what we were working toward, and it’s much bigger than you and your personal problems. This is a big step for humanity and long overdue,” he said patiently. “What if one of us humans gets appendicitis and there’s no one who understands human anatomy? Having humans on board who can handle our medical needs is good for both of us!”
She got to her feet. “If you won’t listen to me, I’ll ask for a meeting with the station folks. I can still get this changed.”
He shook his head slowly. “That’s not going to work. They’re not going to deny a new race access to the station based on one person’s paranoia. And if you succeed you will be responsible for single-handedly holding back humanity from scientific evolution. Do you want that on your tombstone?”
“If humans come aboard, we will be writing the epigraph for someone’s tombstone, but it won’t be mine,” she said, defeat weighing on her shoulders.
Nobody–really, nobody–believed murders “just happened” around Mallory.
After two years of college and four murders in six months, she had tried therapy.
Dr. Miller first said she’d seen too many murder mystery shows and didn’t believe her when she said she wasn’t a fan of them. Then he suggested possible paranoid schizophrenia. Or maybe just paranoia. She left the appointment with a prescription for brexpiprazole that she didn’t fill.
During her second appointment, Miller’s receptionist became number eight when she was murdered while Mallory and the doctor were arguing in the next room. When they discovered the body, Dr. Miller accused her instead of validating her, and then, when she obviously had a perfect alibi, refused to treat her further.
He didn’t appreciate her solving the crime either. Probably because the killer had been his own wife, who had been convinced he was sleeping with the victim.
She’d turned to religion next. She didn’t care which; she just made a list of places one could worship in Raleigh and rolled a die. Each holy leader she spoke with told her to trust in a variety of higher powers, give herself over to Christ, follow the Tao, meditate, pray, volunteer, whatever. They each thought she was presenting a troubled mind that their faith could focus, not a real problem. But she couldn’t just magically believe in something; she had trouble believing in what was actually happening in front of her.
“Miracles happen daily if we just open ourselves to it,” one priest had said while she was in confession. He hadn’t wanted to call it a miracle when, while hearing Mallory’s confession, a parishioner had been murdered in the church’s parking lot. The church had not admitted she was right; they instead accused her of orchestrating the crime. This was her ninth murder and she should have known better.
Excerpted from Station Eternity by Mur Lafferty Copyright © 2022 by Mur Lafferty. Excerpted by permission of Ace. All rights reserved.
Mallory Viridian is a murder magnet. When she’s around, murders happen, and she’s the only one who can solve them. She tries offering assistance to the police. She’d like to become an investigator herself. But her efforts are repeatedly blocked, and it isn’t long before she becomes the top suspect in all the crimes that happen in her vicinity. This is a problem, and to Mallory, claiming sanctuary on a sentient alien space station where she’s only one of three humans seems like a perfect solution.
Until the station decides to allow other humans to come there. The shuttle arriving from Earth is destroyed on its approach to the station, and humans and aliens both are dying, and Mallory is trying to figure out what the heck is going on before the station loses control and destroys them all.
It took me a minute to really get into Station Eternity. The different character arcs unfold through current episodes and flashbacks, and it felt a little convoluted at first. But if you start the book and feel that way, don’t get discouraged. I promise it’s worth it in the end!
Lafferty does a great job conveying how the few humans struggle to function in a space station built with no consideration given to them at all. The furniture isn’t sized correctly, the food may or may not be agreeable, things we take for granted in our daily lives are a challenge for Mallory. Even communication with the different alien species can be difficult, translation bug notwithstanding.
I also enjoyed the descriptions of the different types of aliens aboard Eternity, as well as Eternity herself. The insect-like Sundry, the Gneiss who seemed like giant sentient rocks, the inscrutable Silence, each alien species had its own unique characteristics.
The human charaters were engaging, too. Calliope was one of my favorites, with her general attitude of badassery and nonchalance. I found it fascinating, too, that she could fail at multiple individual skills in military testing, but when you put them together, she was a juggernaut. And Mrs. Brown! She is the absolute best. She is proof that age doesn’t have to be an obstacle to, well, anything you put your mind to.
When all the threads of the story came together, when relationships were revealed and the mystery was unraveled, it was glorious. I read past the end of my lunch break so I could see what happened. I normally don’t like a cliffhanger, but in this case, I’m tickled. It means I get to dive into Eternity’s universe for at least one more book, and I can’t wait.
Five stars for a good mystery, solid sci-fi world building, well-written characters, and a story I’m clamoring to know more of!
Disclaimer: Thank you to Berkley and NetGalley for an advance copy of the book. All opinions here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t actually like.