- Series: Wayfarers (Book 2)
- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Harper Voyager (March 14, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062569406
- ISBN-13: 978-0062569400
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 465 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,516 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Closed and Common Orbit (Wayfarers) Paperback – March 14, 2017
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“As with her amazing debut, the power of Chamber’s second space opera is in her appealing characters [...] Her protagonists might not all be human, but they possess more humanity than most” (Library Journal (starred review))
“Chambers uses her considerable talent to take a more focused and contained look at a gut-wrenching story of self-determination and personal autonomy [...] No matter what beautiful and strange world Chambers takes us to, we can count on her to lead with humor and heart.” (RT Book Reviews (4 1/2 stars))
“Warm, engaging, properly science-fictional, A Closed and Common Orbit is a very likable novel indeed.” (The Guardian)
“A Closed and Common Orbit may be smaller in scope than the book before it, but in its focus and its force, in the sheer delight it takes in the discoveries it documents, it’s as fine and as fantastical and as fun as Chambers’ absolute darling of a debut.” (Tor.com)
“As good, smart and satisfying as its predecessor...If there was such a thing as a Cosy Space Opera subgenre of Speculative Fiction, Becky Chambers’ series would likely be listed alongside the equally excellent On a Red Station, Drifting by Aliette de Bodard and Binti by Nnedi Okorafor.” (Book Smugglers)
“While most sequels feel the need to go bigger and bolder, Orbit is a more intimate story than its predecessor, exploring trust, the mind/brain paradox, and unease with one’s body, while examining the ways someone without a family makes their way in the world and forms their own connections.” (AV Club)
“The vibrant lines drawn between lives prove as compelling as laser battles and widescreen explosions. If you yearn for science fiction with heart, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better candidate this stellar novel.” (B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog)
“Chambers Wayfarers series is the feel-good science fiction series you were looking for. Depressing dystopias got you down? Here’s the antidote [...] This is optimistic science fiction for those who grew up on Original Series Star Trek.” (Pop Verse)
“For any of us, life as we think we know it can change at any time. A Closed and Common Orbit simply reminds us that, in a universe of immense and wondrous possibilities, there’s no shame in finding oneself a novice here anew.” (Strange Horizons)
“Humane and alien, adventurous and thoughtful, vast in its imagination and wonderfully personal in the characters it builds. But above all else, it is joyously written and a joy to read.” (Claire North, author of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August)
From the Back Cover
Embark on an exciting, adventurous, and dangerous journey through the galaxy with the motley crew of the spaceship Wayfarer in this fun and heart-warming space opera—the sequel to the acclaimed The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet.
Lovelace was once merely a ship’s artificial intelligence. When she wakes up in a new body following a total system shutdown and reboot, she has no memory of what came before. As Lovelace learns to negotiate the universe and discover who she is, she makes friends with Pepper, an excitable engineer who’s determined to help her learn and grow.
Together, Pepper and Lovey will discover that no matter how vast space is, two people can fill it together.
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When I sat down to read this book, I was a little nervous. I had loved the first book so very much, and that's a lot of pressure to put on a sequel, even a stand-alone sequel. But this book is, if anything, even better. Although the setting for the series is very much space and colonies and aliens and even the occasional space war, the focus is really on the characters and the cultures that they come from.
This book is about what makes a person a person, and how being a "manufactured" person affects how one emerges as a person. Although the two main characters are a human and an AI in a human body (a "kit"), the book is filled with many other people from different species and cultures. A great deal of the story concerns learning to become a person when you were built more to be a thing (a slave or an AI). The multitude of interesting, well-conceived aliens surrounding the two main characters help illuminate that journey.
Mind you, this is in no way a classic Campbellian "hero's journey". It's about the journey of having to invent oneself with no good role models for how to be the kind of person you are. Amidst a dazzling array of people from wildly different backgrounds, the book explores the weightedness of names (both main characters name themselves, for different reasons, but in both cases, the act is heavily symbolic), the difference between the interior and exterior view of the same person, the way one's background determines the degree to which there is congruence between the self and the body in which the self resides, and oh, so very much more.
The characters have depth, the setting is intriguing, and I could go on raving about how mich I loved this book. But you shouldnt be reading this comment -- you should be reading the book. If you like character-driven stories set in solidly world-built locations and a writer with a real appreciation for the depths of cultural differences, you are in for a real treat.
The novel switches back and forth each chapter between the current day adventures of Lovelace and the past trials of a girl named Jane, from which one end story line eventually develops. This leads to probably my biggest gripe with the story: there is no real "end goal" in sight until very late in the book. The stakes are already relatively low in the Wayfarers universe, which is wonderful and by design. Instead of "saving the universe" we get to experience the wonderful worlds and shared cultures of the everyday residents as they go about their daily lives. The unfortunate downside to this is that we as the reader still want to feel like we're on some sort of adventure with an end goal in mind. With ACaCO, that end goal is kept hidden away from us until about 3/4 of the way through the book so you feel like you are just going through the motions a bit with seemingly unrelated chapters and events (especially in the current timeline) until Jane's story is fleshed out.
What I love about the Wayfarers books is that Chambers has crafted a wonderfully accepting universe where many different cultures live in relative peace and are mostly accepting of everyone. Residents are sex-positive, accepting of different lifestyles, species, and colors, and generally seem to be better off as a shared community. Chambers has still found soft spots with which to make us think, however. Lovelace is an AI and her sentience is not recognized (or authorized) in a body kit - but what makes her so different from so many of the other characters we meet? You'll have an opportunity to decide for yourself as Chambers raises many wonderful moral questions and puts her characters in situations where they have to face those questions and challenges head on. It provides you with the opportunity to reflect on your own personal views and doesn't provide a clear answer or judgement. You need to decide for yourself.
While not as lighthearted, fun, and adventurous as her debut TLWTASAP, this follow-up offers the same wonderful universe, rich character development, and positive outlook previously experienced in the Wayfarers universe. Tonally it is a bit more serious, but it is still a positive and uplifting story that poses many interesting questions. I can't wait to read the next book!