Title: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet
Author: Becky Chambers
Series: Wayfarers, #1
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Release Date: July 15th 2014
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.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
My Thoughts On…
I’d heard a lot of things about The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet before picking it up, everyone seemed to love it so of course I added it to my to-read as soon as I finished reading the first five-star review I saw. This book ended up being nothing like I expected it to be, but it was still a brilliant read which I’d recommend it to any and all fans of the sci-fi genre.
After the mistakes her father made, mistakes which turned her into a pariah and drove her off her planet, Rosemary has taken a job as the Wayfarer’s clerk under a new name and with a new identity chip. The Wayfarer build wormholes which isn’t glamorous but brings in the money they need. However the captain is thinking bigger, Ashby wants to start taking on jobs which bring more money but without the equipment on their ship to handle those jobs it’s just a pipe dream. Until the Galactic Commons, GC, announce an alliance with the Toremi Ka people.
The Wayfarer crew have a chance to make history and create a wormhole connecting Central space to Hedra Ka, the capital planet in Toremi Ka territory, a job which will earn them enough money to take on the higher level jobs Ashby has started looking at. However they soon discover the road they are travelling is not going to be an easy one. Travelling across space for months on end to reach Hedra Ka is dangerous on its own and that saying nothing of the troubles which find them along the way.
The new alliance is still on rocky ground; and travelling towards the territory of a species that have been fighting a war amongst themselves for years can the Wayfarer crew really trust that they will be safe when they reach Hedra Ka?
The plot of this book is about the journey but it doesn’t take centre stage in The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet; instead the characters do. In terms of diversity I’ve never read a sci-fi book that has as much as this one does. There are many different breeds of aliens we meet along the way; aliens who identify as two people instead of one, aliens that change from female to male halfway through their lifecycle, aliens who are discriminated against and aliens who discriminate against humans.
We spend most of this novel with the crew of the Wayfarer, all of the characters have such wonderful development. Rosemary is running from her past, and this takes her to the Wayfarer where she discovers a new way of life and new family. Rosemary’s journey is much like the readers; she doesn’t have any experience with being outside her home planet, or being in space for extended periods of time, or even dealing with all the alien species she comes across outside of the classroom.
Ashby is the captain of the Wayfarer, part of a pacifist race who is forced to evaluate his ideals when his crew is put at risk and when his lover, who is fighting a war, arrives on his doorstep. Sissix is an Aandrisk who has created a family aboard the Wayfarer but has very different family values and relationship ideals to those humans do. Kizzy and Jenks are the mech techs aboard who are both a little wild and a little crazy but who have become closer than siblings in the time they’ve spent aboard the Wayfarer.
The best part about this story was the relationships the crew had with one another. When they are forced to face their past, or deal with some kind of devastating consequence from their actions they lean on each other as needed. Even the characters like Ohan or Corbin, who seem to hold themselves apart from the rest of the crew, still value the family they have found aboard the Wayfarer.
There are a lot of themes explored in this book and the way they are dealt with was wonderfully written. From the war on Dr Chef’s home world which has pretty much wiped out his people to the discrimination against AI’s and clones which cause issues aboard the Wayfarer, especially when it comes to the ships AI, Lovey.
The world building in this book was incredibly written, probably in part due to the amazing character development. Every species we came across was given their own history, their own culture their own language and gestures, and their own look which made them so different from humans. There wasn’t just one world created in this book, instead there were many for all the different species we were introduced to. From the Tokath who have been at war with each other for years now, to Ohan, a Sianat Pair, who can navigate through the space between space, and to Dr. Chef who’s story about the war his people fought was heartbreaking but so real. We learn a little about each of the characters, each of the species, more and more as the plot progresses and it all comes together to create an unforgettable story.
By the end I was so attached to each of these characters that the last few chapters were heartbreaking. The journey the Wayfarer crew went on was a long and hard one but it was an unforgettable adventure reading it. There is a second book, a companion novel, that was released a few days ago and it has shot to the top of my to-read list after finishing this book.
What did you think of The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.