Mallory Viridian spends her life keeping people at arms distance, trying to keep them alive. Death has followed her for as long as she can remember.
When she was very young, her mother died. Then one of her teachers was murdered, followed by her guidance counselor. Just before she dropped out of college, an annoying classmate and a room service attendant were both killed during a class trip – in two unrelated murders. The final straw came when the guest of honor was murdered at a birthday party Mallory had been forced to attend.
After that, she was done with humans. Thankfully, alien life had just made first contact. Mallory made her case and was granted sanctuary aboard a sentient space station called Eternity.
Life aboard Eternity isn’t always easy. The station is outfitted to care for a variety of alien lifeforms, from the giant rock people called the Gneiss to the ever-present blue and silver wasps of the Sundry hive mind.
With only three humans on board, the station has more pressing matters to deal with than catering specifically to their needs. Mallory has been left to find out which of the alien foods her body is capable of digesting – including a semi-molten liquid rock that could conceivably be called “coffee.”
Her only remaining human contacts are Adrian, the self-important Ambassador of Earth, and Xan, a fellow sanctuary-seeker/stowaway.
Life aboard Eternity has been pleasantly murder-free, but Mallory has just gotten word that everything is about to change. An Earth shuttle is headed to Eternity, and with those human passengers will come a murder. Mallory is certain.
Mallory has a sixth sense for impending death; first she begins to notice unusual coincidences. At the birthday-party-turned-crime-scene, she was almost guaranteed to only know the person who brought her. Instead she finds Xan.
The two had been friends in college, before she dropped out to avoid more murder and he dropped out to join the military. Seeing him out of the blue is not a good sign. Sure enough, after reconnecting with her old friend for a few minutes, the party-goers’ game of Werewolf turns into an actual murder.
With the certainty of this experience, Mallory knows that more humans on Eternity will mean another death. And when her premonition turns out to be correct, the murder ripples out through the station – and no one on Eternity will be safe.
STATION ETERNITY by Mur Lafferty is a well-plotted murder mystery encased in a science fiction shell.
It takes place in the near-future, which helps make the world feel familiar. Human technology and motivations have not changed much in Mallory’s time and it is easy to understand the distrust some humans have for their new galactic neighbors.
The book can occasionally seem choppy, cutting back and forth between Mallory’s present and quick vignettes to the other murders she has solved. These vignettes do not always tell the whole story. Mallory reserves the right to skip details and bring the murders up again before the reader gets the whole picture.
The book’s perspective shifts around between characters, deeply exploring the world that Lafferty has built while still keeping the urgency of the unsolved murder front and center. STATION ETERNITY’s aliens are unusual but relatable, and I would say the same for its humans.
Review by Alyssa Berry, Technical Services Librarian