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The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers) Paperback – July 5, 2016
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“Great fun!” (Ann Leckie, author of Ancillary Justice)
“A quietly profound, humane tour de force that tackles politics and gender issues with refreshing optimism.” (The Guardian)
“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)
“One of the most enjoyable, brilliantly realized spacey SF novels I’ve read in ages.” (James Smythe, author of The Echo and The Explorer)
“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
A rollicking space adventure with a lot of heart
When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn’t expecting much. The patched-up ship has seen better days, but it offers her everything she could possibly want: a spot to call home, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy and some distance from her past. And nothing could be further from what she’s known than the crew of the Wayfarer.
From Sissix, the exotic reptilian pilot, to Kizzy and Jenks, the chatty engineers who keep the ship running, to the noble captain Ashby, life aboard is chaotic and crazy—exactly what Rosemary wants. That is, until the crew is offered the job of a lifetime: tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet. Sure, they’ll earn enough money to live comfortably for years, but risking her life wasn’t part of the job description.
The journey through the galaxy is full of excitement, adventure and mishaps for the Wayfarer team. And along the way, Rosemary comes to realize that a crew is a family, and that family isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the universe . . . as long as you actually like them.
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The main selling points of "The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet" are the imagination Becky Chambers puts into the development of her alien characters and the relationships she creates between her human and her non-human characters. The navigator, for example, is from an alien species that infects itself with a virus that allows it to see spatial structures invisible to all other species. The Doctor-Chef (the ship's medical officer and cook) has six limbs and multiple throats that make human speech a bit difficult. The pilot is from a reptilian species with a complex family structure that involves intense parent-foster child relationships but no parent-biological child relationships. All of the ship's humans that have romantic entanglements with non-humans , including one with an AI, one with her shoes (that's a joke, sort of), and one with a member of an irresistibly gorgeous humanoid species that communicates through skin color. The emphasis is less on how weird aliens are, but on what people (or sentients) growing up in very different circumstances can teach us, both about ourselves and about the nature of life.
This description may make my 3-star rating seem a bit stingy, especially after I say that Chambers writes well and that there are moments of real warmth, humor, and excitement in the book. Still, I had a hard time reading "Angry Planet." So much goes into making the aliens interesting that not a lot is left over for plot, action, or individual character. There's not much of a story beyond what I've already told you, and the most vivid human characters are secondary: ditzy Kizzy, pint-sized Jenks, and angry, angry whatshisname the algae tech. Rosemary makes a couple of daring choices during the course of the novel, but daring is no substitute for depth. High expectations about how her scandal is going to play out mostly fizzle. There's just not a lot of juice here. So, while I might give the novel a 7 on a scale of 1-10, it gets a 3 on Amazon's 1-5 scale.
Bottom line: Worth at least a browse; weakly recommended.
There’s no overarching antagonist in this book, it’s just about the crew of the Wayfarer (humans, aliens, and AI) going on a space roadtrip, learning about themselves and growing as people, and becoming even closer. It’s cozy, and you end up liking everybody by the end. The worldbuilding is great, it’s pretty much everything that makes a science fictional universe fun (to me, at least) – lots of alien species that are actually different from each other, faster than light travel, galactic politics, a run-down spaceship with a ragtag but loving crew (okay, that’s more the characters than the world), and even a galactic Wikipedia-type thing.
I really enjoyed this book, but it still had some obvious flaws. Every crew member in the book gets their own character growth arc, and even though that was satisfying in a lot of ways, it also made the book seem too neat. Not everyone got a happy ending tied up in a bow, but they all changed in important ways, and it all fit the timeline of the journey. It also made the characters seem flat, and too convenient at times, and it made me not invest in them as much. I didn’t end up feeling close to any of them, like I do with the best character-driven books.
Despite its problems, this book was good enough that I’ve pre-ordered the next book, A CLOSED AND COMMON ORBIT. It arrives in about ten days and I’m pretty excited to read it.
Most recent customer reviews
Book immediately hits you with forced SJW and 'Politically Correct' language.