October 04, 2022

Station Eternity

This space station-set mystery stands out thanks to its endearing characters, both human and alien.
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Station Eternity, Mur Lafferty’s intergalactic whodunit, is a thrilling ride starring interesting characters from the farthest reaches of the universe.

There are many aliens on Space Station Eternity but only three humans. The sentient station granted sanctuary to social outcast (by choice and for good reason) Mallory Viridian and the insufferable Adrian Casserly-Berry, an ambassador from Earth. Mallory left Earth without a second glance because no matter where she goes, someone she knows dies. It’s like she’s the heroine of a cozy mystery series, except she has to deal with real-life consequences like always being a suspect and worrying that the people around her aren’t long for this world. The third human on the station is stowaway Xan Morgan, a handsome former soldier with a mysterious past, and Mallory is terrified he”ll fall prey to her curse. When it’s announced that a new shuttle full of humans will dock on Eternity, she knows they”ll soon be in danger as well. And sure enough, as soon as more humans arrive, both they and the station’s alien inhabitants start dying.

With its focus on the diverse races of aliens who call the space station home, Station Eternity is more creative than many stories with a similar setting, and its human characters are far more humble. They are hitching a most likely temporary ride on the station and therefore can never forget that they need to respect the aliens’ ways. Lafferty describes various alien beings with dry wit, gusto and imagination, from the rocklike Gneiss to a hivemind of sentient wasps who constantly ask inappropriate personal questions. Even though the story is told from Mallory’s perspective, Lafferty’s universe contains multitudes.

Beyond the book’s sci-fi trappings, Lafferty also crafts a solid mystery, with perfectly timed reveals and clues, and her quick banter and endearing characters shine all the way to the finale. Mallory, her comrades and her foes all have flaws, and many of them are survivors of violent or abusive situations. The near-future world of Station Eternity is not a rosy utopia, and there is much discourse among the characters on the difficulties of being femme, or queer, or trans, or a person of color. It makes Mallory’s quest to protect Eternity—an island of hope, coexistence and cooperation in a vast, alien-eat-alien universe—all the more imperative.

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