The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet – Becky Chambers

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Follow a motley crew on an exciting journey through space—and one adventurous young explorer who discovers the meaning of family in the far reaches of the universe—in this light-hearted debut space opera from a rising sci-fi star.

Rosemary Harper doesn’t expect much when she joins the crew of the aging Wayfarer. While the patched-up ship has seen better days, it offers her a bed, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy, and most importantly, some distance from her past. An introspective young woman who learned early to keep to herself, she’s never met anyone remotely like the ship’s diverse crew, including Sissix, the exotic reptilian pilot, chatty engineers Kizzy and Jenks who keep the ship running, and Ashby, their noble captain.

Life aboard the Wayfarer is chaotic and crazy—exactly what Rosemary wants. It’s also about to get extremely dangerous when the crew is offered the job of a lifetime. Tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet is definitely lucrative and will keep them comfortable for years. But risking her life wasn’t part of the plan. In the far reaches of deep space, the tiny Wayfarer crew will confront a host of unexpected mishaps and thrilling adventures that force them to depend on each other. To survive, Rosemary’s got to learn how to rely on this assortment of oddballs—an experience that teaches her about love and trust, and that having a family isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the universe.

Review by Shanice

This book has quickly become one of my favorite reads of 2019. I cannot describe it other than familiar and human. Even though this story is about a wide variety of alien species, every single one of them was relatable and endearing in some way without it feeling forced or fabricated. I would love to be a part of the Wayfarer crew!

I know this book has been described as ‘soft SciFi’, and I think that is partially right. Even though it has a very decent plot and some action-packed scenes, it is first and foremost a story about people, friendship and chosen families.

‘Before Rosemary could have any say in the matter, the woman stood up, removed her gloves and wrapped Rosemary in an enormous hug. “Welcome home.” She pulled back, wearing an infectious grin. “I’m Kizzy Shao. Mech tech.” ‘

The crew on the Wayfarer are incredibly diverse, not only in species but in personalities, size (we have a person with Dwarfism), sexuality (interspecies and polyamorous relationships) race and wealth. Despite their differences, they are loving and welcoming and accepting of one another (well, almost all of them. Looking at you Corbin). There are some great redemption arcs and certain characters experience enormous growth.

Lastly, I want to emphasize the vast universe Becky Chambers has created.

Complicated family structures. Virtually no concept of personal space. Physically affectionate. Promiscuous. She mentally slapped herself for that. It was a stereotype, one that every Human knew whether they wanted to or not, and it smacked of ethnocentrismThey don’t pair up like we do, she chided herself. It’s not the same thing.

Becky Chambers has gone beyond just creating certain alien species just for the sake of interesting filler and weird phenomena. Every species has their own unique culture and personality quirks, and humans are far from superior. In fact, humans are looked upon as one of the weaker species.

As a reader, I found myself constantly being surprised and challenging my core beliefs and outlook on the world. We encounter species who regard children as less important than adults, who are polyamorous, who start their lives as females to then evolve and end their life as a male. This is such a culturally rich and important book and one that really makes you think about your own cultural beliefs.

Although I’m sad the second instalment won’t be covering the whole Wayfarer crew again, I am beyond stoked to read more of Becky Chambers work and cannot recommend this book enough.

What are your thoughts on the book?

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