Far from the Light of Heaven, by Tade Thompson
18 October 2021
An article published in The Atlantic in September 2018, written by Geoff Manaugh, pondered the question of dealing with crime on Mars. It was a thought provoking read, given the long time talk of establishing colonies on the red planet. But talk is easy. Mars is far from hospitable, and colonising the planet presents a raft of challenges, some of which may prove insurmountable.
But what happens, if one day in the future, we discover the means to cross the gulfs of interstellar space, and are able to establish colonies on planets we may find, that are somewhat more conducive to human habitation? The question of law enforcement is likely to be utmost on the minds of those organising such a gargantuan undertaking.
Crime beyond Earth is a theme central to Far from the Light of Heaven (published by Hachette Book Group, October 2021), the latest novel from British-born Yoruban doctor and novelist, Tade Thompson. Shell, the first mate of a vessel carrying one thousand colonists to a distant world, wakes from ten years in hibernation to discover some of the passengers have been murdered.
A puzzle to say the least, given everyone on board was asleep. Shell launches an investigation, but her work is cut out for her. Her captain, an artificial entity called Ragtime, who might know more than he lets on, is little help. Meanwhile menacing robots lurk in the shadows of the enormous vessel, which Shell cannot leave until she works out what happened.