Title & Author: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
Genre & Publication Date: Science-Fiction, July 15, 2014
Book Description: Somewhere within our crowded sky, a crew of wormhole builders hops from planet to planet, on their way to the job of a lifetime. To the galaxy at large, humanity is a minor species, and one patched-up construction vessel is a mere speck on the starchart. This is an everyday sort of ship, just trying to get from here to there.
But all voyages leave their mark, and even the most ordinary of people have stories worth telling. A young Martian woman, hoping the vastness of space will put some distance between herself and the life she‘s left behind. An alien pilot, navigating life without her own kind. A pacifist captain, awaiting the return of a loved one at war.
Set against a backdrop of curious cultures and distant worlds, this episodic tale weaves together the adventures of nine eclectic characters, each on a journey of their own.
First Line: As she woke up in the pod, she remembered three things.
My Take: Let me end the suspense up front: I loved this book. I’ll do my best not to gush but no promises.
The story takes place aboard the Wayfarer, a ship that tunnels wormholes through space like highways across the countryside. It begins with a new crew member, Rosemary, as she boards the ship for an administrative job. Like the reader she is accustomed to living on terra firma among humans. Through her we experience this new way of living “out in the open” as it’s called, aboard a ship with a crew as varied in personality as they are in specie.
In her journey to break with her mysterious past and make a new life with this strange family, we learn about each of them, where they come from, what they love, what they fear. The character development is truly amazing.
It’s not an edge-of-your-seat style (though there are quite a few gripping scenes that make your heart race) but it nevertheless hooks you early and keeps you turning the pages. I laughed out loud so many times. The alien cultures, worlds, histories and languages are incredibly detailed and totally fascinating.
The Magical: The many interactions between the crew. Love. Friendship. Grief. It’s all here. One of my favorite passages was a conversation between two aliens—a six limbed cook and a pilot of feathers and talons—in which they wish the humans on board would sometimes act more like “normal” people. Priceless.
The Mundane: Not knowing if there’ll be a sequel. I miss this crew like I do the people aboard the Serenity.
Summary of Thoughts: While the description might say it’s an episodic tale, don’t let that deter you if you prefer stories that have a central goal. This one has that too, but just like in life, there are other experiences, other interactions that come up along the way. (Warning: Philosophical cliché ahead) Life is in the details and in the journey, not just the destination. If you’re looking for a ride like that, this is the book for you.
On the Kindle it currently costs $4.99 for a ticket to board the Wayfarer. Totally worth it in my opinion—and they won’t even charge you extra for luggage.
Curious what others thought? Check out Amazon’s reviews: http://www.amazon.com/The-Long-Small-Angry-Planet-ebook/product-reviews/B00LUJD700/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1
This book is up for an award! The only self-published novel standing toe-to-toe with traditionally published novels. Way to go! Here’s an article with more: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/feb/13/self-published-sci-fi-debut-kickstarts-on-to-kitschies-shortlist