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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)
“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)
“Great fun!” (Ann Leckie, author of Ancillary Justice)
“Becky Chambers’ debut novel . . . is probably the most fun that you’ll have with a space opera novel this year. It’s exciting, adventurous, and the cozy sort of space opera that seems to be in short supply lately. . . . Not to be missed.” (iO9)
“Becky Chambers’ debut is a joyous, optimistic space opera ... Although it isn’t shy about tackling Big Questions, Planet is a heart-warming debut novel that will restore your faith in science fiction (specifically) and humanity (in general).” (Tor.com)
“A warm, big-hearted, progressive and fun blast of sci-fi. . . . The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is just so much fun to read, and we can’t wait to see what Chambers does next. 5 stars.” (SciFiNow)
“A quietly profound, humane tour de force that tackles politics and gender issues with refreshing optimism.” (The Guardian)
“One of the most enjoyable, brilliantly realized spacey SF novels I’ve read in ages.” (James Smythe, author of The Echo and The Explorer)
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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But not Becky Chambers, we care about her characters because they are so very human, even if not all of them really are human. In her universe humans are low in the pecking order, not the great saviors, not the smartest or the ones that always save the day. Her humans are survivors, creatively fitting in to whatever the universe throws at them, insisting on their place "out there", while not threatening or needing to blow up everything in sight.
This book picks up at the point in the previous book where the techno fixit geek Pepper has left the ship taking with her the ship's former AI who, by being shut down, lost her identity as an individual and her relationship with her crew, making it impossible for her to continue as ship's AI. But Pepper has an illegal artificial body into which she installs the AI formerly known as Lovelace (Lovie) and this book is a really fun mix of the AI's taking on a new identity and name and discovering what it means to interact with humans as a physical being while also needing to make sure she does not reveal her true identity. Chambers also skillfully works in the backstory of Pepper and her partner Blue in a way that neatly blurs the line between flesh and blood human and artificial life.
Very nicely done Ms. Chambers. I eagerly await more of your writing. SciFi needs authors like you.
This novel follows a couple different storylines. In the first, Lovey interacts with the world around her, tries to figure out ways around the limitations of her new body, cautiously makes new friends, and endures a few personal crises on her way to becoming the best person she can be. In the second, we backtrack to Pepper's childhood, alone and fighting for her survival on a hostile world, with her only shelter a broken-down spaceship and her only companion an outdated AI.
As with Chambers' first book, the characterizations truly shine, and the compassion of the writing really drive the book forward. Pepper's lonely and frightening childhood and Lovey's lonely and frightening transition from disembodied intelligence to bipedal life form are countered beautifully by the friendships they build -- with abandoned humans, with understanding aliens, with an old AI willing to devote herself to keeping a lost child alive.
We live in a rough and often unkind world. You deserve to enjoy some of this compassionate, diverse, welcoming, and vastly wonderful science fiction.
A life that, in the Galactic Commons, is rather inconveniently very, very illegal.
In this standalone sequel, Lovey has awakened in a new body which very convincingly imitates a human body, after a total system shutdown and reboot, which has left her with no idea why her previous installation wanted this new life with these new and strange limitations (such as not being connected to the Linkings fulltime.)
Yet here she is, in this new, freer yet more limited form, still learning what it's like to be apparently human, traveling with the rather volatile engineer, Pepper, to Pepper's home to learn who she is in this new form.
Chambers explores both how Lovey adapts to her new circumstances, surrounded by biological sapients and cities that aren't bounded by walls, and the slow unveiling of Pepper's background, painful past, and loss of the only real family member she ever had.
There's a lot of excellent character building and world building here. It makes for a layered, textured world, and an even more satisfying reading experience than in the previous book.
I bought this book.