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A Closed and Common Orbit (Wayfarers) Paperback – March 14, 2017
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This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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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.
Top customer reviews
The book goes between present day Sidra's point of view, and past Pepper's. While a bit different, this choice was very effective. You know where Pepper ends up, but her journey in getting there makes for an intense read. Sidra's point of view was tied in with well-written parallels. However, despite the danger she faces, it never felt very... Imminent. Her most interesting points were due to her character traits. Preferring corners, wanting tattoos, tasting things, so on.
Chambers blew me out of the water once again when it came to her world-building. Not only do non-mammilian aliens not have breasts, the aliens that take up a good portion of this book, once again, aren't necessarily binary-gendered. Bless Chambers for throwing a genderfluid character into the main cast... I just wish she would do so with a human character too...
It is also important that I mention the nuanced and well-placed discussions of ethics. Fans of her last book would probably recognize the interesting stance on AI, cloning, and other "future" issues. The anonymous forums were a great way to discuss the AI issues in particular.
Luckily, Pepper's there to guide her through this, just as soon as she sorts through her feelings about being forcibly split from another AI who raised her and helped her escape from the regime that used her for slave labor as a child. Yeah, you thought you had emotional problems.
Despite the sometimes-despondent themes, A Closed and Common Orbit is a fundamentally optimistic book. It shows us a world in which empathy is the default expectation and where chauvinism is almost universally condemned, and it does it without ever being preachy or overbearing. With beautiful prose, wonderful characters, and a deeply engaging plot, this is a thoroughly enjoyable addition to the Wayfarer series.
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.