Monday, November 27, 2023

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet: Becky Chambers


I was influenced to buy this book after reading a review at Cath's blog, Read-Warbler. I am so glad I did.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is a space opera. To get away from an unhappy event in her past, Rosemary Harper (not her real name) joins the small crew of a ship that creates tunnels through space for faster travel. She is the clerk, taking care of ordering and forms and such. Some of the crew is human and others are various types of aliens.

The captain of the ship, Ashby, has contracted with the Galactic Commons to create a tunnel to allow travel to a planet belonging to the Toremi Ka, an alien species new to membership in the GC. The Toremi Ka are kind of scary and not much is known about them, so the reasons for the new alliance are questionable. But the job provides a good payday for Ashby and his crew.

My Thoughts:

I liked the various aliens and their different gifts, needs and culture. The author did a great job with differentiating between the characters. 

All the characters are nice, almost too nice. Only Corbin, the algae specialist, is obnoxious, and even he has morals. He is more on the focused, self-centered side and finds it hard to compromise. Many of the characters are quirky and everyone has to learn to accept the quirks on a long journey in a small ship. It reminds me of the characters on various Star Trek TV shows.

This article at describes Becky Chambers books as sort of feel-good, comfort reads. There is tension and conflict but the basic theme seems to be that being kind, thoughtful, and accepting of other beings is important.

The book is over 400 pages long, which is sometimes a challenge for me, but this time I was sad when I finished reading the book because I enjoyed the world it created so much. This is the first book in the Wayfarers series by Becky Chambers, and I already have the 2nd book, and two other books not in the series. I think I could reread this one again when I have finished the rest of the author's books.


Publisher:  Harper Voyager, 2016 (orig. pub. 2014)
Length:      438 pages
Format:     Trade paperback
Series:      Wayfarers, #1
Setting:     Space
Genre:      Science Fiction
Source:     I purchased this book in 2022.


Margot Kinberg said...

I like that term, Tracy - space opera. It gives me a real sense of what the book is like. The characters do sound really interesting, and I can see how you'd want to follow them. I don't usually reach first for a sci-fi novel, but this one sounds as though it stays with you.

TracyK said...

Margot, One of the problems I sometimes have with science fiction books is keeping track of the characters, but this one was easy to keep up with. And it was the perfect read for me at the time.

Todd Mason said...

And when the term was created, no later than the 1940s, "space opera" referred to the kind of sf that put any serious scientific extrapolation deep in the background if employed at all, and stressed exotic adventure...the New Space Opera that came in, in a big way, in the late '80s decided to bring more extrapolation and that kind of wonder back into the mix...and this novel sounds like it's in the more relaxed form of the latter where one can also keep track of distinct characters, as well (as most good sf has made an effort to do since the '50s, at latest). I haven't tried Chambers's work as yet, but I should!

pattinase (abbott) said...

I am amazed at how widely you read. A real inspiration.

Cath said...

So glad you liked this one, Tracy. Oddly enough, I just picked up book 2 to see if I'm in the mood to read it. It's not quite the same as the first one so we'll see.

di said...

One of my favourite books!

Sam said...

Thanks to both of you, this series has Finally come to my attention. I have strayed away from science fiction in the last several years, and I find it difficult to jump back into the genre for some reason. I wish that booksellers would separate fantasy from science fiction so that I could find the kind of stuff I used to enjoy so much.

TracyK said...

Todd, I looked up the definition of space opera recently because I don't read that much science fiction in comparison to other types of literature. Of course I got a lot of variations on the theme. Wikipedia emphasized space warfare, which usually is an element, I guess. Thanks for your information about the history of the term. This one definitely emphasizes distinct characters.

TracyK said...

Patti, thanks for the kind words. I wish I could read more and more books. Now I seem to read slower and slower, but sometimes that helps me to enjoy the reading more.

TracyK said...

Cath, I did notice when I read a bit of a summary for the 2nd book that it went in a different direction. But I figured the writing would still be good.

Lark said...

I thought the pacing of this one was a little slow in places, but I did like all the characters, and that ending! :D

TracyK said...

Di, thanks for stopping by and commenting. I was very impressed by this book and look forward to reading more by this author.

I checked out your blog and I will come back and read more of your posts.

TracyK said...

Sam, I hope you do read this someday and enjoy it. I sympathize with having a hard time getting back into science fiction. For me, I am unsure what types of science fiction I will enjoy and I am unfamiliar with the authors, both new and old.

TracyK said...

Lark, I can't remember if I had any problems with slow pacing. I read it early in November. I just remember loving the characters, so maybe did not notice. On the other hand, since it took so long to get to the planet they were headed for, and there were side trips along the way, I had trouble figuring out the timing. Still loved it though.