The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers


The book that I read this month as selected by my book club was The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers, the first in the ‘Wayfarer’ series. Although I am open to reading most books I must admit to not being a big reader of science fiction novels. However, I had heard a lot of great things about this book so was intrigued to get reading.

‘…all things considered, it was perfect. She couldn’t think of a better place to start over.’

The story begins when Rosemary Harper travels to join the crew on a spaceship called the Wayfarer. The patched up ship travels the length and breadth of the galaxy and provides Rosemary with a new job, a new home and new adventures. However, the most important thing for Rosemary is that it provides distance from her troubled past on her home planet Mars. She brings with her a secret…

“No good can come from a species at war with itself. Never has, never will.”

Life on the Wayfarer is busy but relatively peaceful and soon Rosemary settles in with the crew who are made up of numerous different and fascinating species. There is plenty of detail here to introduce the reader to each species’ physical characteristics and social quirks which was fun to read. Amongst them is Sissix, a reptilian pilot, Dr Chef, Kizzy and Jenks the engineers and Lovey, the ships AI with whom Jenks shares an unusual bond. The reader discovers life onboard along with Rosemary and I loved the little details and intricacies that make up this complex world. Soon, the routine onboard is shaken up when the crew are offered the job of a lifetime, a job which offers fortunes they can only dream of. However, the trip poses a danger to those onboard as well as to the lives and alliances throughout the galaxy.

 “The thing is Rosemary, that you are capable of anything. Good or bad. You always have been, and you always will be.”

These events that arise are significant but despite this the emphasis in this novel is on the characters. It is very much a story about family and friendship and the bonds that develop between Rosemary and the various species aboard the Wayfarer. All of the crew members are well described and have their own stories to tell, their own loves and secrets. This is all set in the confined setting of the ship, a patched up ship with a mishmash of people living their lives out in space. It is through the characters that this novels strengths lie and their individual stories were what I enjoyed the most. In addition to this the story deals with lots of issues – matters of life and love, equality, morality. There are ordinary issues, with extraordinary characters.

‘There was nothing in the universe that could last forever. Not stars. Not matter. Nothing.’

Whilst I may not be a convert to the sci-fi genre I enjoyed discovering The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet and its surprising cast of characters. I found it to be more accessible than some science fiction novels so would recommend for anyone thinking of trying a book in this genre. The second book in this series, A Close and Common Orbit is to be published in October this year so I will be interested to find out what the future holds for the crew on the Wayfarer.

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