Book Club Prep: Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty

Our next book club book will be Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty! The synopsis below is pretty inaccurate, both factually and as far as what the book is actually about—but gosh, it sure sounds exciting, which I guess is what really matters in the publishing house’s eyes. If you’re interested in ethical dilemmas and philosophical questions raised by the concept of cloning, delivered in a fun and fast-paced read with a murder mystery subplot hanging around in the background, Six Wakes would probably be a great book for you!

A space adventure set on a lone ship where the clones of a murdered crew must find their murderer—before they kill again.

It was not common to awaken in a cloning vat streaked with drying blood.

At least, Maria Arena had never experienced it. She had no memory of how she died. That was also new; before, when she had awakened as a new clone, her first memory was of how she died.

Maria’s vat was in the front of six vats, each one holding the clone of a crew member of the starship Dormire, each clone waiting for its previous incarnation to die so it could awaken. And Maria wasn’t the only one to die recently…

Highlight white text for content warnings: death and dying, assault, suicide, torture

For those of you looking for hosting ideas, here are some easy snacks and beverages you and your book club compatriots can enjoy while discussing Six Wakes. And for those of you who are looking for something more beyond the book itself, here are some articles and books which either tie into Lafferty’s novel or expand upon its themes and content.

Snacks & Drinks:

Coquito Acaramelado

Of course I had to include this Cuban dessert in my list of snacking ideas, given its importance in Maria’s narrative. I was only able to find two recipes online, but this one seemed the closest to the coquito acaramelado described in Six Wakes. It doesn’t sound too difficult, with relatively few ingredients required, so long as you can get your hands on some desiccated coconut. Also, the recipe author advises you can buy some caramel sauce at the grocery store if you don’t feel up to making your own.

Green Tea Ice Cream

This ice cream makes an appearance as Hiro’s favorite comfort food, once the food printer is up and running. If you’re already partial to green tea or want to explore a new ice cream flavor, you might be able to find some green tea ice cream at your local grocery.

Tea

In the novel, Maria brews up a pot of green gunpowder pearls to tide everyone over until the new food printer is up and running. If you’re also a tea enthusiast like Maria, you might have some of that same tea on hand—but if you’re not, any similarly enjoyable blend would be a fitting accompaniment to your discussion!

Whiskey

A somewhat staggering amount of whiskey is consumed by our protagonists throughout the novel, usually at the least opportune time for everyone to be extremely drunk. Lafferty never specifies what type of whiskey—blended, single malt, bourbon, or rye? Scotch, Irish, American, Canadian, or Japanese? So whatever whiskey you prefer, I’m sure the Dormire‘s crew would approve, just as long as it contains a hefty amount of alcohol.

Hemlock Cocktails

While you should definitely not ever ingest hemlock, this cocktail recipe seems like a delicious alternative, so long as you enjoy bourbon, oranges, and vanilla.

Further Context:

The Teleportation Debate at We Love Philosophy

This article gives you a quick and easy intro to a fairly popular philosophical thought experiment, and pairs extremely well with the content of Six Wakes, which of course is all about the self and identity and where those concepts begin and end.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie / And Then There Were None (2015)

If you haven’t ever read this Agatha Christie classic, now would be a great time! The murder mystery formula upon which Lafferty builds her story was made famous by Christie’s 1939 novel, so a familiarity with the original will allow you to see how Lafferty is adapting this formula to her own ends. If you don’t have time to read the novel, the 2015 BBC adaptation is absolutely fantastic and a work of art which will take you only 3 hours to watch. (Also, the BBC adaptation finally managed to alter the story’s central poem to something that is not at all racist. Good job, everyone! It only took 76 years.)

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro / Never Let Me Go (2010)

This much acclaimed novel offers a very different scenario in framing Ishiguro’s own exploration of the selfhood debate, about which I won’t talk much at the risk of spoilers. Much like And Then There Were None, the film adaptation here is a great option for those of you who don’t have time to read the original novel. Never Let Me Go has remained difficult for critics to “classify,” especially for those critics who see the sci-fi genre and other “pop” genres as less worthwhile than so-called literary fiction. I suggest readers start the book without any great expectations and just see where it takes them.

Moon (2009)

This sci-fi film offers yet another lens on the selfhood debate! Although I have not personally watched this film, it is very critically acclaimed and sounds intricately plotted and well-considered in the questions it raises. However, it also sounds pretty dark in its subject matter, so be forewarned if that is not your cup of tea.

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