SF Review: The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet
Title: The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet (Wayfarers #1)
Author: Becky Chambers. Read by Rachel Dulude
Publication Info: Tantor Audio, 2016. 14 1/2 hours. Hardback by Hodder & Stoughton, 2015; 404 pages.
Source: Library digital services
Rosemary Harper doesn’t expect much when she joins the crew of the aging Wayfarer. While the patched-up ship has seen better days, it offers her a bed, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy, and most importantly, some distance from her past. An introspective young woman who learned early to keep to herself, she’s never met anyone remotely like the ship’s diverse crew, including Sissix, the exotic reptilian pilot, chatty engineers Kizzy and Jenks who keep the ship running, and Ashby, their noble captain.
Life aboard the Wayfarer is chaotic and crazy—exactly what Rosemary wants. It’s also about to get extremely dangerous when the crew is offered the job of a lifetime. Tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet is definitely lucrative and will keep them comfortable for years. But risking her life wasn’t part of the plan. In the far reaches of deep space, the tiny Wayfarer crew will confront a host of unexpected mishaps and thrilling adventures that force them to depend on each other. To survive, Rosemary’s got to learn how to rely on this assortment of oddballs—an experience that teaches her about love and trust, and that having a family isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the universe. (Goodreads)
This was my second book by Becky Chambers; I picked up her novella, To Be Taught, If Fortunate on the recommendation of Jemima Pett and was so taken with the author's style that I put myself on the holds list for this one. I then waited so long I'd totally forgotten what the book was about before I got it, so I did something I seldom do: I read (listened to) the book without any preconceptions as to what the story would be. I'll be writing more about that in another post.
This is not my father's science fiction (I'll admit that most of the SF I read is from the 80s, at the latest). This was a book that delves deeply into personal relations (and inter-species relations), while at the same time being a pretty wild space-opera. It's an interesting combo, made the moreso by the position of humans in the galaxy--as a hint, we aren't the top folks, and no one makes a big deal of it. The creation of the different species of sapients (and the relations between them) is in-depth and convincing, and the whole thing a bit daunting to someone like me who likes to knock out a bit of allegedly SF flash-fiction from time to time. Ms. Chambers' world-building is seriously impressive.
Ms. Dulude does a good job of reading, but I couldn't help noticing a couple of consistently mispronounced words, of the sort I would have expected to be caught and corrected. She does a great job creating the many voices and accents of multiple species, though, so I forgave her.
I liked this so much I immediately checked out and started listening to the second book in the Wafarers Trilogy, A Closed and Common Orbit, which was also excellent. It's worth knowing, though, that the three books are free-standing, though the second features some minor characters from the first (I haven't gotten to the third yet, but I will--and to anything else Chambers has written).
This is for pretty much any lover of science fiction, with its elements of space opera, "hard SF" (she's sound on the technical stuff), and those who consider that relationships between characters are an integral part of a good story. There are a couple of scenes I'd rate somewhere between PG-13 and R (PG-17?)--nothing to make you blush, but I seem to recall that some sex happens.
FTC Disclosure: I checked The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet out of my library, and received nothing from the writer or publisher for my honest review. The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."