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The Galaxy, and the Ground Within: A Novel (Wayfarers Book 4) Kindle Edition
Return to the sprawling, Hugo Award-winning universe of the Galactic Commons to explore another corner of the cosmos—one often mentioned, but not yet explored—in this absorbing entry in the Wayfarers series, which blends heart-warming characters and imaginative adventure.
With no water, no air, and no native life, the planet Gora is unremarkable. The only thing it has going for it is a chance proximity to more popular worlds, making it a decent stopover for ships traveling between the wormholes that keep the Galactic Commons connected. If deep space is a highway, Gora is just your average truck stop.
At the Five-Hop One-Stop, long-haul spacers can stretch their legs (if they have legs, that is), and get fuel, transit permits, and assorted supplies. The Five-Hop is run by an enterprising alien and her sometimes helpful child, who work hard to provide a little piece of home to everyone passing through.
When a freak technological failure halts all traffic to and from Gora, three strangers—all different species with different aims—are thrown together at the Five-Hop. Grounded, with nothing to do but wait, the trio—an exiled artist with an appointment to keep, a cargo runner at a personal crossroads, and a mysterious individual doing her best to help those on the fringes—are compelled to confront where they’ve been, where they might go, and what they are, or could be, to each other.
About the Author
Becky Chambers is the author of the science fiction novels The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet; A Closed and Common Orbit; and Record of a Spaceborn Few. Her books have been nominated for the Hugo Award, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and the Womens Prize for Fiction, among others. She grew up in a family heavily involved in space science, and she hopes to see Earth from orbit one day.--This text refers to the audioCD edition.
Editors' pick: This marvelous, character-driven science fiction novel brings a certain warmth that encompasses species and worlds, making the universe a better place."—Adrian Liang, Amazon Editor --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B088RDCLQ4
- Publisher : Harper Voyager (April 20, 2021)
- Publication date : April 20, 2021
- Language : English
- File size : 3304 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Sticky notes : On Kindle Scribe
- Print length : 333 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: #22,242 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United States on April 23, 2022
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Top reviews from the United States
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The premise is simple but this book was so rich in thoughtfulness and amazing characters. Ouloo and Tupo are fun characters all on their own. They are joined by Roveg a Quelin (who is a crustacean-like character), Speaker who is one of the Akarak (who as a species was denied entry into the GC because of their short lifespans), and Pei an Aeluon who is Ashby's (Ashby is human) love interest from the first book. Each character is dealing with their own trauma and has their very separate lifestyle but somehow they all ended up coming together and supporting each other.
I absolutely love Chambers' creativity in developing these different alien species and love how she brought them together. This is such a feel good book. The different species all have their different perceptions of the other species as a whole, but of course your perception of a species is not the reality of the individuals of that species. In this book the characters are constantly surprising each other, both with their differences and similarities. They may live different lifespans and breath different types of air but they might love the same music or enjoy the same types of activities. In the end, when a child is injured it doesn't matter what species that child is, they all put aside their differences to help in the best way they each individually can.
Chambers makes these species come alive and I loved all the individual characters as well. They felt so real and reading about them was completely engrossing and intriguing. I am still in awe at how Chambers can pull me completely into a story like this when there really isn't a strong plot driving anything forward. These are just aliens hanging out at a rest stop and the book was completely impossible to put down. I loved every minute of it. My only complaint is that this didn't feel like the end of the series and I feel like there must be a lot more stories that want to be told in the Wayfarers world.
My Summary (5/5): Overall I loved this book and really loved this series as a whole. The amazing alien races and the thoughtfulness with which they interact was fascinating. These characters are so easy to engage with and love and so fascinating to read about. If I have any complaints it is that I am super sad that this series is over and I would love to read more stories set in the Wayfarers universe. I would highly recommend this series if you are interested in the softer more introspective side of science fiction. All the Wayfarers books are thought-provoking, heart-warming and just flat out fascinating.
How can these creatures understand each other?
But wait! How can these creatures engage in conversation, language or no language? And what are they saying in the first place? They’re alien, after all! Well, just imagine one of those stories about a handful of people stranded by war or misfortune. Human people. They don’t know each other, and once the skies clear they’ll all be on their way. So, what do they do? They talk. And their innermost secrets come out, willingly or not. Yes, the characters in this novel are all extraterrestrial. (They call each other sapient or sentient, because Terra‘s not in the picture.) But it’s hard to imagine that they could be any more human in the ways they think and speak and act. Of course, it’s all in fun. Keep in mind, this is Becky Chambers’ universe—the Galactic Commons—not hard science fiction. In the GC, everybody’s nice—except when they’re at war.
Who’s who in this last of the Becky Chambers series
For the record, I’ll list the characters here. If you plan to read the novel, save this list. It takes a little effort to sort them all out, as they’re introduced piecemeal, and it can be a little confusing at first.
Ooli Oht Ouloo is the proprietor of the Five-Hop One-Stop, a motel of sorts in a habitat dome for galactic travelers on the planet Gora (“the Hanto word for useless”). Ouloo is a Laru. She and her preadolescent son Tupo—he is “too young to have chosen a gender yet”—are covered with thick fur from head to the tips of their four paws. As one of Ooloo’s guests thinks, none too kindly, “their limbs were like animated noodles, their stubby torsos thick and bumbling, their long tail-like necks somewhere between a nightmare and a grand cosmic joke.”
A Quelin—”Quelin singular, even if it’s a group”— Roveg is a wealthy trader who was banished from her home planet for creating impertinent “sims,” which seem to be the latest format in education and entertainment. (The Quelin do not tolerate criticism.) She is desperate to obtain a visitor’s pass so she may reunite briefly with the three sons she left behind when she was stripped of the jewels on her carapace and forced to flee fifteen years ago. (“The Quelin Protectorate were a real bunch of bastards.”) Roveg sports dozens of legs, including abdominal and thoracic limbs that enable her to move quickly like a centipede.
Speaker is a tiny methane-breathing sapient whose species wanders the galaxy. She moves about inside her shuttle by swinging about from one pole to the next using hooks at the ends of her arms. (“The two short limbs that hung below her as she swung across the room could grasp and passively support, but nothing beyond that.”) Outside the shuttle that brought her to the surface, she lives in a massive spacesuit. Her home planet was colonized and stripped of all value by the rapacious Harmagians, and the Galactic Commons has not seen fit to allocate a new one for them. In Speaker’s species, the Akaraks, everyone has an identical twin. Hers is named Tracker. The two have never been apart for so long.
Gapei Tem Seri, known as Captain Tem, calls herself Pei. An Aeluon, she is a wealthy arms dealer who travels the galaxy in a ship that rivals planetary art museums. “One of the first things Aeluon children learned after they mastered the complicated matters of walking and eating and using their colours with intensity was that the world around them did not use the same language people did. People, of course, communicated via the swirling chromatophore patches covering both cheeks.” And to communicate with those who speak via sound, Pei had installed a voicebox on what corresponds to her neck. Pei is secretly involved in an interspecies relationship with—gasp!—a Human named Ashby.
So, what happens?
To be blunt, not much happens here. Unlike its three prequels, the last entry in the Becky Chambers series is modeled on those literary novels or films in which a small, disparate group of people are forced together for a time and spill their guts to one another. In this case, some equipment glitch has detonated virtually all of Gora’s huge fleet of communication satellites, and they’re now tumbling in pieces to the surface. The Goran Orbital Cooperative rushes to fix the problem. But in the meantime, everyone on the surface of the planet must shelter in place, within the many domes scattered about and, if possible, within their spacecraft as well. During all the days repairs are underway, the guests in the Five-Hop One-Stop are forced to deal with each other, historic enmities and suspicions notwithstanding. It’s amusing but less than satisfying—like dessert after the more substantial courses of the Wayfarers series.
About the author
Becky Chambers won the Hugo Award for Best Series for the Wayfarers novels. She self-published the first book in the series, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, in 2014. Number four in the series, The Galaxy, and the Ground Within, is, sadly, the last of the lot. Chambers was born in Los Angeles County in 1985. At an early age she became fascinated with space exploration. Currently she lives in California with her wife.
Top reviews from other countries
Whilst an avid fantasy reader I rarely delve into scifi. Space operas, weird technology & strange
aliens don't really connect with me.
However the underlying essence of these books is one of both connectivity and inclusivity.
Chambers has the incredible ability to explore the human condition and extrapolate this to encompass an entire universe.
Her detailed observation of the personal & insular issues of a small community that are simultaneously intimate yet somehow universal are honestly astonishing.
Since lockdown + covid I have found it very difficult to read. My source of joy and escapism became somehow blocked.
This is the first book I have been able to read in it's entirety for a very long time. It is also probably the closest I have felt to a sense of belonging to a wider humanity in a long while.
Her characters and environs are pop out of the page real. A recognition of meticulous research that clearly contributes without being obvious.
Her writing somehow manages to ease my heart and I think adds beauty to the world. I am sorry this is the last in this series. I will both miss them and treasure them all the more.
Summary: Worth the read.
The planet Gora is the intergalactic version of a motorway service station. Ouloo runs the Five-Hop One-Stop, one of the establishments catering to visitors' needs such as fuel, food, tech repairs and a bathhouse. When the Goran satellite network suffers a massive failure, the travellers are temporarily marooned.
Throwing a small number of different species into closer than usual proximity for several days gives Becky Chambers a chance to explore the differences and similarities between her characters. As they learn more about their different cultures they build bridges and earn each others' respect.
It's a beautiful story, full of kindness and compassion. It might be a space opera, but there are lessons for us all about being more accepting and understanding of people who are different to ourselves.
Three travellers stop off at the Five-Hop One-Stop, for what they expect to be a short stay. But a freak accident strands them. All have urgent personal reasons to be elsewhere, but there is nothing they can do but wait for the situation to clear. They learn about each other, their hosts, and themselves, in the process.
Chambers’ universe is filled with civilised beings: they are not necessarily nice, but they don’t run amok when circumstances are against them. They press on, trying their best to achieve their goals whilst remaining relatively well-mannered. This makes for somewhat gentle narratives: the problems are crucial for the protagonists, but not universe-shattering. Even here, where one of the characters is basically an arms dealer, there is no violence, just difference of opinion.
I have enjoyed this series, although I found this final entry a little disappointing. I’m not sure why. Maybe my expectations were too high? Maybe it is because although the characters learn and change, what they learn about each other doesn’t seem to affect what they learn about themselves. Maybe I was expecting something a little more complex. Even if the destination was a little more prosaic than in the previous books, I still enjoyed to journey.