When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn't expecting much. The Wayfarer, a patched-up ship that's seen better days, offers her everything she could possibly want: a small, quiet spot to call home for a while, adventure in far-off corners of the galaxy, and distance from her troubled past. But Rosemary gets more than she bargained for with the Wayfarer. The crew is a mishmash of species and personalities, from Sissix, the friendly reptilian pilot, to Kizzy and Jenks, the constantly sparring engineers who keep the ship running. Life on board is chaotic, but more or less peaceful - exactly what Rosemary wants. Until the crew are offered the job of a lifetime: the chance to build a hyperspace tunnel to a distant planet.
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This is the first book, that I can remember, that has made me laugh (multiple times) out loud(!) and cry. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet has firmly earned itself a place in my top favourite books of all time.
Having finished the book only a couple of days ago, I find myself missing the characters dearly. There's so much that this story had that I hold dearly to my heart and the story is woven with kindness, love and acceptance of others.
I also loved the writing style that Becky Chambers has. I was quickly introduced not only to the characters, but to their character and it was clear what was important to them and how the characters cared about each other.
Another detail in their writing that I noticed and appreciated, was that the mundane aspects of the story, which could easily pad out a book or potentially offer a few interesting scenes - they were entirely omitted. The crew have a successful “punch” (creating a wormhole), and so they decided to head plant-side for some drinks and celebration - it's not in the book. We pick up the next morning. Back with our characters and much more interesting exchanges happen. This happened a number of times and I personally found it refreshing that the story kept me connected to the characters.
The story is set in some distant future where space is explored, species have connected and human kind have spread themselves across the galaxies. But really it's about people (I think), our connections, what makes family, what matters.
I also really enjoyed that the bulk of the crew's journey was their story and that Chambers didn't throw in unnecessary suspense or tension. For me it make the characters and the world all that more real and believable.
It was hard not to fall in love with the crew too, especially the “core crew”, comprising of Kizzy and Jenks - the techheads, Sissex the super cool reptilian pilot, Dr Chef - a chef...and a doctor, and Ashby, the kind of captain and person that stands up for their crew and conducts and behaves in a way I wish I could all the time.
Then there was the fact that Chamber's characters don't adhere to (I hate to say) “normal”. The alien species approach family and sex differently. They approach gender and identity differently. They approach food and social situations differently. They read as believable and lovable because they're not just another carbon copy of the human archetype white male hero character.
This book is full of hope and love and it was exactly what I needed in my life in 2020. I cannot wait to read the next books set in this world.
I want these characters in my life and I miss them already.
This originally appeared at The Irresponsible Reader.
We are all made from chromosomes and DNA, which themselves are made from a select handful of key elements. We all require a steady intake of water and oxygen to survive (though in varying quantities). We all need food. We all buckle under atmospheres too thick or gravitational fields too strong. We all die in freezing cold or burning heat. We all die, full stop.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
in the Wayfarer Universe
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