DEMAND AN END TO POVERTY THIS GENERAL ELECTION
TAKE ACTION
Books

Far From the Light of Heaven review: Wrongfoots the reader at every turn

The new novel by science-fiction master Tade Thompson boggles the mind, writes Doug Johnstone.

Far From the Light of Heaven by Tade Thompson is out now.

People read fiction for all sorts of reasons, but one of the main reasons I love doing so is to get a glimpse of the wild and weird imagined worlds of the authors.

Far From the Light of Heaven by Tade Thompson is wonderfully bonkers. The British author is best known for his multi-award winning Wormwood trilogy, books that have set a benchmark for modern science fiction.

Far From the Light of Heaven shows an equal breadth of vision to its predecessors, and perfectly balances inspired universe building with both high-octane action and emotional depth.

The story focuses on the colony spaceship Ragtime, which has travelled light years from Earth to orbit around the colony planet of Bloodroot.

When first mate Shell Campion wakes up from hyper-sleep after 10 years, she finds that 31 of the 1,000 people sleeping on board are dead. Calling on assistance from the planet below, she is sent Rasheed Fin to investigate the murders, with repercussions that are both extensive and deadly.

What starts as a locked-room mystery eventually escalates into something like an apocalyptic disaster story, as the Ragtime’s controlling AI thwarts the humans, robots and aliens trying to both solve the murders and find a way to stay alive on a ship seemingly hell-bent on destroying them.

Thompson is wonderful at narrative pace and tension, channelling some of the old noir crime genre greats into a superbly original setting. He fleshes out both his wider universe and his diverse cast of characters with real skill, never at the expense of a plot that just keeps wrongfooting the reader at every turn.

Outside the ship, political and commercial forces are closing in, as Shell and Fin make a last-ditch attempt to save themselves and their passengers. Smart and propulsive in equal measure, this is top-class science fiction.

Far From the Light of Heaven by Tade Thompson is out now (Orbit, £8.99)

@doug_johnstone

This article is taken from the latest edition of The Big Issue magazine. If you cannot reach local your vendor, you can still click HERE to subscribe to The Big Issue today or give a gift subscription to a friend or family member. You can also purchase one-off issues from The Big Issue Shop or The Big Issue app, available now from the App Store or Google Play.

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
'Future is as shaky as its ever been': Will Baillie Gifford funding row kill our book festivals?
Books

'Future is as shaky as its ever been': Will Baillie Gifford funding row kill our book festivals?

How books can help children understand the crushing challenges of poverty
Books

How books can help children understand the crushing challenges of poverty

I wondered why Western media called the Yemen conflict an 'invisible war'. Then I saw it for myself
A child joins his father at a tribal meeting in Hasaba, where pro-Houthi tribes gather to show their allegiance
Photography

I wondered why Western media called the Yemen conflict an 'invisible war'. Then I saw it for myself

Top 5 empowering teen novels, chosen by YA author Rebecca Westcott
Empowered teen
Books

Top 5 empowering teen novels, chosen by YA author Rebecca Westcott

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know