THE LONG WAY TO A SMALL, ANGRY PLANET by Becky Chambers
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.
I was a little dubious going into this one because it’s an adult sci-fi, which is not a genre I often reach for. I was also only just getting out of a reading slump and had heard this was more character driven than plot driven, which usually slows the pace considerably. However, I needn’t have been worried.
Angry Planet is definitely accessible to non sci-fi readers. Whilst the world-building is really well-done and detailed, it’s not done confusingly so. I think most of the reason I loved this book was the crew of the Wayfarer. Each character had really great character development and depth and I really feel like these characters are like my friends. Their relationships and interactions with each other are great to read and you just find yourself rooting for everyone. I don’t think there were any characters in here that I didn’t like. I will admit that I’m going to miss this crew going into the sequel, but I think reading about Lovey- the AI- will be awesome.
As previously mentioned, the world-building in this was great. One issue I often have with sci-fi is that even alien species fall into cis and heteronormativity but that was definitely not the case here. We had diversity not only within the human crew, but the alien crew as well- diversity in gender and sexuality and also in culture. Chambers also deconstructed human ideas about gender, sexuality and polyamory through comparing human ideas of these things against those of the alien species in this book. I also really loved and appreciated the normalisation of the use of gender neutral pronouns for people whose pronouns were not known. I really wish that were seen in more books across all genres.
I really loved Chambers’ writing style as well. Sometimes it’s really hard for me to get into sci-fi novels if the writing style is too heavy or complicated. I think Chambers did a great job of writing a light hearted, easily accessible sci-fi whilst still having a lot of well loved sci-fi elements.
My only issue with the book is that it was sometimes a little too slow paced for my liking and at times we got a bit too much info dump. Nonetheless, I still really enjoyed this book & would definitely recommend it to anybody wishing to pick it up. It’s a really fun sci-fi and even if you’re not a fan of sci-fi, I think you’ll still find yourself loving this world and these characters. I’m very, very excited for the sequel.
Thanks so much for reading!