The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers


This is one of the best books I have read this year. Let me introduce you to the crew of the Wayfarer. Captained by Ashby, the Wayfarer is a tunnelling ship made up of 50% spare parts and 50% hope. Engineers Kizzy and Jenks keep the thing in space and Sissix pilots it. That’s just some of the amazing characters that Rosemary Harper meets on the ship. This is the most epic space opera I’ve ever read. Fun comes first but there is also danger and suspense. It does all this while tackling bigger issues one would expect from a universe with more than one species in it.

There are so many differences in biology without taking into consideration culture, climate and whether you’re a good guy or a bad guy. You can’t have a space opera without a light side and a dark side. That would be silly. Take for example the character of Sissix. She proves herself ten times over as a brilliant pilot but she’s a woman and a lizard. I can’t help but draw comparisons to Firefly, it’s impossible not to. While Firefly and Joss Whedon examines a class system, The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet and Becky Chambers examines race, xenophobia and prejudices. Which is why we love our narrator so much. She uses non-binary pronouns and wants to know the correct way to talk people, pronounce their name and accommodate to their needs. She’s rather adorable about the whole thing. You won’t find a politer or considerate narrator.

Chamber’s world is intense. She has created new species, cultures and languages. (There were so many names and words that I have no hope of pronouncing.) What made this book stand out to me was the space stuff. She puts the science in science fiction. I had no idea when I read this but Chambers was raised by an astrobiology educator, an aerospace engineer, and an Apollo-era rocket scientist. So she knows her stuff. I like to think she consulted her parents on certain paragraphs in her debut novel. While reading, I relished her imagination but now I know her upbringing, I stare at the stars and wonder if the Wayfarer is out there creating a tunnel to our solar system.

Watch my video review:

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