Cover Image: Far from the Light of Heaven

Far from the Light of Heaven

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Member Reviews

Damn. This book was something else. At turns matter-of-fact in tone, balls-to-the-wall exciting, mind-bendingly confusing, and profoundly thoughtful. I love a genre-melding books, especially if space mystery and Afro-futurism are involved. Not to mention wolves? I’ve read a lot of space mysteries, and this one is definitely one of the most unique and intentional. Clearly the author had a really specific vision of what they were trying to accomplish with the story, not sacrificing plot for tone or vice-versa. And God, the characters. Shell and Joké were definitely my favorites. Both so clearly defined. I also really did like the resolution/question balance at the end. Artfully done.

I will say I was a little disappointed with the reveal of the mystery. (Potential SPOILERS?) Without revealing too much, it felt just a little deus ex machina for the killer/motive to be revealed from off-screen (so to speak) over half way through the book. It’s not that it wasn’t believable, it totally was (within the world of the book, of course), I would have just liked to have seen it hinted at a little more early on. It’s super satisfying to feel like you could have pieced it together even if you didn’t.
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Michelle “Shell” Campion departs on her first mission as the first mate for the spaceship Ragtime, a colony passenger ship whose residents, including Shell, will sleep for ten years to get to their destination. Artificial intelligence is highly advanced in Tade Thompson’s Afrofuturism universe and the ship is captained by AI while the passengers sleep- but there’s no reason to worry, because ship AI have never failed. Shell wakes from her ten year sleep to find 31 dismember bodies, hostile robots, and that the ship’s AI is no longer acting quite right. She sends a distress signal to the planet they have arrived at, and an eccentric small group is sent to help investigate. But they’d better hurry, because time is running out and the situation on the ship is turning hostile.

This was a great locked room mystery. I haven’t gotten to read nearly as much sci-fi this year as I would have liked and diving into this book reminded me why I loved it so much. I got similar feels to Dead Space by Kali Wallace as well as little hints of similarities to the Expanse series by James S. A. Corey. I’m not sure I would go as far as to call this a space opera as I’ve seen- the world and universe is discussed but not as flushed out as I would expect with a space opera. More of a sci-fi locked room with some foray into horror to me! I would definitely recommend Far From the Light of Heaven to lovers of sci-fi and look forward to reading more from Tade Thompson! 

Many thanks to Netgalley and Orbit for the e-ARC!
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My Take:

First mate ‘Shell’ Campion awakens from the ten-year slumber of intergalactic travel… this is her first journey and what is supposed to be solely a ceremonial position because the ship’s AI never… NEVER fail. Only this time it does, and there waiting for Shell’s eyes to open are 31 dead bodies of the Bloodroot colonists.

With the help of Fin and his animated partner (sorta an android and sorta not), Shell has to investigate the murders at the same time as new dangers start to develop.. Part of Ragtime breaks off, experiments escape from their pods, and the backup AI isn’t exactly helpful. Chapters start to introduce new characters and the focus pulls back and forth between people on the surface vs the quasi-team that is trying to save the rest of the thousand people still in cryo…

I liked the characters, the adventure, and most of all the inventiveness and ingenuity in the problem solving. My minor criticism is in the characterization… the author uses separate chapters to relate anecdotes and background about the characters instead of integrating this info into the storyline. Pros: Dedicated time to focus on the characters and kept the actual storyline humming. Cons: Broke up the overall pacing and was slightly distracting.

Overall, an entertaining book that can definitely be seen as a lock-room mystery in space. And, also as the author describes in the afterword, the premise partly can explain the feeling of being fresh out of medical school or training without any experience as Shell is in the novel and Thompson.

A little of a mixed review, but if you have read Thompson’s other works you know his imagination will bring Wows and Ohhhhs!

4 out of 5 stars.
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Stellar!  Or rather, interstellar!  This is basically a murder mystery, but set on a spaceship, orbiting a far planet.  The spaceship is a character, and even a suspect.  There are artificially intelligences, aliens, wormholes, and plenty of advanced technology, but we don't get too deep into the scientific weeds.  There are a bunch of really interesting, unusual characters, and we get to know them as we try to figure out why 31 of the 1000 passengers on the ship didn't arrive at their destination alive.  Shell, the captain, is extremely cool under pressure, just as we imagine NASA trained astronauts would be.  The government on the orbited planet sends an investigative team of two, but otherwise plays games throwing trash into bins while the remaining 969 orbit asleep and vulnerable.  It's entirely up to the captain and investigators to solve this, with the situation escalating all the while.  There's a wolf on the loose, biological science experiments are set free, and some of the robots have been programmed to attack.  In spite of the high stakes, Shell inspires a lot of confidence, and it doesn't feel like horror.  She gets some assistance from the last space station they passed through, but not much since the government there is only interested in getting their fee paid.  There are some surprises at the end, including a very aggressive decision from the dictator/secretary of the space station.  All really interesting, thought provoking, and even pretty plausible.  Highly recommend!
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A locked room, or ship, mystery that manages to produce delight through fancy, while maintaining an impressive commitment to scientific speculation.  The ending was, admittedly, a bit abrupt, but leaves hope for a sequel!
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I've read a few other books by this author and they usually had some kind of dark violence or stress to them...most of this book (but not all of it) was a bit lighter in that respect, plus it's more far-future space opera than his definitely Earth-based other books. Still lots of darkness and a bit of gore to it though, and a long-ish flashback near the end. I would read a sequel or more in the same setting.
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While Tade Thompson’s Clarke Award-winning Rosewater (2016) and its two sequels comprising his Wormwood trilogy provided extensive insight into a near future Nigerian state dealing with an inexplicable alien phenomenon, his latest Far From the Light of Heaven is more a space thriller with a locked room murder mystery.  The Nigerians are again present, with a do-nothing administrator on space station Lagos, and rescue workers who take bets to secure property rights to wrecked spaceships, but Thompson’s Afrofuturism seems more to the side of the main story.   

It is the story of rookie mission specialist Michelle “Shell” Campion, who has accepted a position as First Mate on an interstellar people transport captained by an AI.  Her job on the Ragtime’s ten-year journey to Bloodroot is mostly to enter sleep along with the thousand passengers, but be available just in case the infallible AI fails.  After the ship passes through the wormhole at Lagos Station, and into orbit around nearby Bloodroot, she is awakened to a dysfunctional AI and all hell breaks loose.  Some of the passengers are missing, the ship is quarantined by the Bloodroot government, and a suspended forensic investigator named Fin is sent up to join Shell, along with his AI partner.  As all the surviving passengers continue to sleep, his suspects are pretty limited – Shell being one of them. They are also joined by the forementioned do-nothing Lagos administrator Lawrence Biz and his half-Lamber daughter Joké.  Just to clarify a little, Uncle Larry was the business partner of Shell’s deceased father and has known her since childhood, and the Lambers are a mysterious, possibly alien, race of beings who move through spacetime forming liaisons with human beings on Bloodroot.  Joké has some of their characteristics.  It’s an action-packed plot in a somewhat weird setting as Fin investigates the on-board murders and Shell struggles to save her “crew” from asphyxiation and orbital decay.

To be honest, the characters felt a little rough to me.  Shell in particular, is supposed to be an inexperienced young adult, but has dialog like “On Earth there used to be this soothsayer, the Delphian Oracle.  Supposedly it spouted glossolalia, gibberish and the seekers of wisdom took away whatever message they wanted to hear guided by projections of their own subconscious.  I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I do know that whatever oracle we choose to consult will tell us we are cursed.”  It seems digressive for a panic situation assessment, such as you might expect from a more mature, even elderly, personality.

While the first half of the novel seems to conform to tropes of science fictional realism, the true explanation of the Lambers when revealed is more mysterious, possibly supernatural, and definitely Wierd. The way the city of Bloodroot spirals around the Lamber Tower reminded me of the way the city of Rosewood grows to surround the alien artifact in Thompson’s Wormwood trilogy.  So, this is kind of a genre bender, with elements of hard-sf, weird fiction, and murder mystery.  Recommended reading, with a few caveats. Only Tade Thompson knows if a sequel will be written, but it is not necessary; the ending is conclusive.

I read an Advance Reader Copy of Far From the Light of Heaven, by Tade Thompson in ebook, which I received from Hachette Book Group (Orbit) through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review on social media platforms and on my book review blog. This new title is scheduled for release on 26 October 2021.
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In Far from the Light of Heaven, Tade Thompson, author of the Wormwood Trilogy, constructs a fine murder mystery on board a colony space ship in methodical detail. Step by step he introduces characters and settings, with just enough detail to bring each person to life and give each of their worlds its full reality. Thompson refers to his story as a locked room murder mystery in space, but the fast pacing opens a complex world of compelling history that is much more than that.

Every character deepens the story of Far from the Light of Heaven and brings into play a new dimension of life in an interstellar future. First we meet Shell Campion, who signs on with a private space company, MaxGalactix, to serve as second in command on a colony space ship, Ragtime. Daughter of a heroic space-farer, she is nervous about her first interplanetary mission but is assured that the AI running the ship will take care of everything. The AI’s never fail. Of course, we can be sure that this AI, referred to as Ragtime, will do just that.

......
It’s a high-spirited book that hits a tone carefully balancing grimmer elements with a light, almost romantic touch. It’s full of surprises and always engaging. It’s also a story that stays with me, unlike so many novels these days that may be enjoyable to read but quickly fade from memory. I keep looking back through the story and finding things I missed. Thompson has a wonderful gift that way, of making you think twice about a narrative you may try to hurry through for its surface fun. His imagination goes deeper, even while keeping you entertained with a fast-moving story.
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Far from the Light of Heaven is a fast-paced thrillers about a murder in a space ship, which is quite different than anything I have read before. While I have read other locked room mysteries, this one adds the sci-fi aspect of space and futuristic humanity that adds a unique element to the experience. 

Captain Shell s in charge of bringing her ship Ragtime, which full of passengers from Earth, to the new colony planet Bloodroot. After being asleep for 10 years with her passengers as the ship travels, she wakes to find 30 of the passengers brutally murdered, yet nobody else seems to be awake. She sends a distress call and a support team comes to help her investigate and navigate the ship to Bloodroot safely, all while wondering; who on the ship is the murderer, and where are they now?

While the story was intriguing, I did find it difficult to follow the constantly changing perspectives and third person writing. I found myself lost in some of the details due to the frequent shifting of perspectives. However, overall I really enjoyed the story and the unique take on the locked-room mystery. I also certainly appreciated how well researched the space aspect was, as it really helped me immerse myself in the story in a realistic way.

Thank you to NetGalley and Orbit for the electronic ARC in exchange for an honest review!
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For fans of Project Hail Mary and the movie Passengers! Far From the Light of Heaven is a sci-fi thriller and I loved the premise behind this book. A ship captain, Shell, has been asleep with her passengers for 10 years as her ship travels from Earth to the colony planet Bloodroot. She wakes up to find that 31 of her passengers have been murdered and no one else seems to be awake on board the ship. After sending out a distress call, an investigative team from Bloodroot joins her as well an old family friend from Lagos. Together they are determined to find out what has happened aboard her ship Ragtime and bring everyone to Bloodroot safely.

I enjoy both sci fi and thrillers, so I was hooked right from the beginning. The book is fast paced and Tade Thompson was able to create a whole unique world for the story to take place. Despite the sort of locked-room mystery aboard the ship, the book covered various parts of the world and I really felt immersed. I will say that some places were a little confusing for me since there were perspectives of quite a few characters. I would have loved the author to just focus on the voice of one or two characters and to develop them a little further. The ending was abrupt, but I’m hoping for maybe a sequel? I’ve heard the term “space opera” flying around with this book, and although I have no idea what that means, if Far From the Light of Heaven is a space opera then I have found a new genre I love!

Thank you to Orbit Books and NetGalley for granting me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review!
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Murder on a spaceship! Only the pilot is supposed to be awake, but there are over thirty bodies … or missing bodies or parts thereof. With a mix of artificial life, heavily manipulated humans, and the occasional maybe-alien, Thompson mixes stay-alive adventure with the unraveling of the reasons for all the deaths. I didn’t find it as compelling as the Rosewater books, but if you want Afro-futurism that mixes spirituality and visions of civilizational variance in space, this might deliver for you.
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Far From The Light of Heaven by Tade Thompson- A passenger space vessel, with a thousand sleeping souls on board, arrives at it's destination. The first crew person to wake finds 39 of the passengers brutally murdered and the ships AI not responding. It's a terrific start! And keeps getting better as you are plunged into a strange dark mystery! The characters are beautifully drawn and resonate the desperate tension unfolding as things go from bad to worse. An excellent book! I hope to read many more to come from this amazing author.
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Far from the Light of Heaven is a locked room mystery set on a spaceship. A colony ship named Ragtime is supposed to be brining thousands of people to the planet Bloodroot. But when they arrive in orbit, the captain Shell wakes up to discover that several of her passengers have been murdered in their sleep. The planet sends a investigator up to the ship to try and find out what happened. Things quickly spiral further and further out of control.

This book was very good. I loved the locked room in space aspect. Space is already a terrifying prospect, and the idea of being stuck on a spaceship with a murderer loose is terrifying. The atmosphere of the book was so good and I loved how things progressed and each new reveal that brought the identity of the killer closer. Several times I had actual chills by events that happened. I did find the ending a little abrupt, almost like it was left open for a sequel, but overall I very much enjoyed the book.
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Far From the Light of Heaven is a locked-room murder mystery set in the ultimate locked-room, space. Aboard the space station, Ragtime, Shell Campion awakes to a gruesome pile of dismembered bodies. There is no one else awake and the AI isn't talking. Soon she's joined by Fin, an investigator as they attempt to solve these murders with a little help from their friends.

I liked this book, but I didn't love it. This book is written in 3rd person/present. It's my least favorite and it hurts my brain, so it took longer to read than it should have. Unfortunately, Shell seemed a bit one-dimensional to me. That could have been due to the fact that she tries to remain cool under pressure at all times. Fin was also not very interesting a character. The most interesting character was Joké, a cool alien-like creature. About 75% in, things got really gross and that's saying a lot since this book begins with dismemberment. Also, the ending is a bit abrupt. If you like weird space books that take a look at what could possibly happen to a person whilst trying to uncover a murderer in space, then you might like this.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this ARC.
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I found this a very satisfying read! I enjoyed the space-ship-as-locked-room mystery structure, even as it is a mystery that is not designed to be figured out by the reader, but rather revealed by the story. The characters and world-building were compelling.
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Tade Thompson brings a sci-fi twist to murder mystery in Far From the Light of Heaven. 

Shell is on her very first mission as captain of the Ragtime, a colony ship transporting one thousand sleeping passengers. It’s exciting, but she doesn’t expect to do much since the AI are more than capable of taking care of everything. That no longer seems to be the case when she wakes up to find passengers have been pulled from their pods and murdered brutally. After sending out a distress signal, Shell is boarded by investigator Rasheed Fin who is determined to figure out what happened. Things aren’t so straight-forward for this crew. 

Far From the Light of Heaven is fast-paced and gets straight to the point. It was easy to keep up with and shows Thompson did his research on space travel. It reminded me a lot of the old school sci-fi novels (the ones they make you read in school that people actually liked). Although there were some pretty dialogue-heavy parts, it flowed well. Worlds and characters were built through action and didn’t need all the info dumping that some space-themed stories tend to do. This book was page-turning and really fun. It’s definitely something sci-fi lovers and readers new to the genre will love.
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I enjoyed Thompson’s <i>Rosewater</i> so was happy to read his forthcoming <i>Far From the Light of Heaven.</i>  I was definitely intrigued by the premise – a locked-room murder mystery on a spaceship.  I love a lot about this novel: the diverse cast of characters thrown together by circumstance and forced to find ways to work together, the truly innovative technological and alien elements, the creation of a universe with compelling cultural and political dimensions that feel entirely believable, and a well-paced plot that kept me interested throughout.  The inclusion of multiple points of view is highly effective here, as are the ways that Thompson tackles political and environmental dynamics in the universe he’s created.  This is a standalone novel, but I do hope that Thompson returns to this universe in a future work.
Thank you to Orbit + NetGalley for providing me with an ARC.
<i>Content warnings:</i> cannibalism, violence, gore/blood, some racism + sexism
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Fantastic,thrilling and engaging sci fi novel! I love locked room mysteries so much and to have one in space is a true gem.

Michelle "Shell" Campion awakes on her ship abruptly. She is charged with ferrying thousands of passengers to a new and safe planet. She is new to the job and realizes very quickly that something is admiss on the ship.
As she orbits Bloodroot -her planetary destination, she discovers that 32 of the passengers were murdered in flight. A detective  (and charming bot-helper) are sent to determine what has happened.

Tade Thompson is so talented and able to create entire universes with exciting characters that you wish you knew more about. I truly loved all of it. There were times when I was a bit confused regarding the universal politics but I greatly appreciated that he wove in themes that are important to him including Afrofuturism, Yoruba people and the idea of casting the alien (to us) not necessarily as "other."

I recommend this book highly to any science fiction lover and any collector of locked room mysteries. Also be sure to read the Author Notes. I am super excited to have discovered this novelist and going back pronto to read ROSEWATER
Thank you to @NetGalley and #Orbitbooks for the Arc in exchange for an honest review.  #Farfromthelightofheaven
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I really, really liked this for the first 60-70% but the later portion just fell flat for me. There was nothing objectionable about it, but I stopped caring. I definitely liked Thompson’s writing style so I want to read more of his stuff and see if I may have just been in a weird mood for the last
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“Far From the Light of Heaven” has a title that, like Steinbeck’s East of Eden, evokes Biblical cosmology and ultimate stakes. The story though was actually inspired by Edgar Allen Poe’s Murders on the Rue Morgue and is a space-age locked-room mystery. The story starts off sounding like any junior space explorer novel with a new first mate, Michelle Campion, onboard her first flight, second in command to only an AI (artificial intelligence), named for the ship, Ragtime. Of course, the story is not so simple as Shell (as she’s known) wakes up from her ten year slumber and realizes that, of the 1,000 sleeping colonists, a few dozen are missing. The count is off. And, Ragtime is strangely unhelpful. It’s then that the story really starts rolling. Although Shell is soon joined by a detective from the colony below, it is more a space adventure than a mystery solved by painstaking stakeouts and clue-following. The author, Thompson, does a fantastic job of ratcheting up the tension and constantly expanding the scope of what could go wrong on a ship marooned above a distant colony, quarantined until investigation is completed.
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