The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
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.
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet might be my favorite Sci-Fi novel. Ever.
This novel was so refreshingly counter-cultural and conscientious, but since it was about aliens instead of actual people problems it didn’t feel preachy or uncomfortable. The book explores the importance of not judging other people based on your own culture’s belief system. It explores what it means to be a person. How we can all be so completely different, and yet fundamentally the same. I don’t know that I’ve ever connected with these messages the way I did when reading about the crew of the Wayfarer before.
I loved how Chambers set this book up in a very episodic way. The first two or three chapters work together to introduce the Wayfarer and its crew, and what the “plot” of the book is going to be. But after that each chapter stands sort of on its own and has its own theme and plot arc. This book would work very well as a TV show.
One of my favorite things a Sci-Fi author can do is ask ethical questions about the speculative future they created. Chambers did this out the wazzoo. SO MANY ETHICAL QUESTIONS! Is artificial-intelligence sapient? What about clones? Should we be working with sapient species who are not as far along as we are, or would we be disrupting their development? Are wormholes okay? What about inter-species relationships, how do we handle THAT? Should we be genetically modifying ourselves? I loved it, and I loved how she used those questions to make the ones we’re facing now seem obvious in comparison.
The characters in The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet are predictably lovable while being completely unique. KIND! They were so kind! What a rarity in literature, and one that I love. Overall this novel was quirky and cute, and a big part of that came from the characters. I felt like I really got to know them, and by the end of the novel I felt so close to them that I was (unsurprisingly) an ugly-crying mess. Although, Chambers taking me completely by surprise definitely contributed to the crying… Also, if you are looking for diversity, whatever that means to you, you’re GOING to find it here.
I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Even if you think you aren’t a Sci-Fi reader, give it a go. It’s very light on the science, and heavy on all the other things that make Sci-Fi such a great genre. Read it guys! You’ll love it!