#RRSciFiMonth: A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers (Wayfarers #1)

Genre: Science Fiction, Space Opera

Publisher: Harper Voyager on August 18, 2015

Source: Purchased

Rating StarRating StarRating StarRating Star

When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn’t expecting much.

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This post is part of Sci-Fi Month 2016, a month long event to celebrate science fiction hosted by Rinn Reads and Over the Effing Rainbow. Follow along on Twitter via the official @SciFiMonth Twitter account, or with the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

THE LONG WAY TO A SMALL, ANGRY PLANET is easily one of the most charming and heartwarming stories I’ve read this year – and it’s also one of the most creative. From individual characters to interpersonal relationships to alien cultures, Chambers proves that there are fresh possibilities and perspectives within a tried-and-true story.

Leaving behind her life of luxury on Mars, Rosemary Harper makes a desperate gamble for freedom when she applies for a position aboard The Wayfarer, a tunnelling ship that creates travel routes between disparate points of the universe. This time, the crew of The Wayfarer is in it for the long haul: a journey across the galaxy to war-torn space controlled by the Toremi (a species currently embroiled in a brutal civil war) to create a tunnel that’ll give the crew a major windfall. Needless to say, Rosemary and her new crew mates get to know one another very well throughout the journey…which was an absolute treat to read about.

Told from multiple POVs, THE LONG WAY TO A SMALL, ANGRY PLANET depicts the world of space travel from more than ten perspectives, each one distinct and unique. From the polyamorous and physically affectionate alien Sissix (loved her!) to the ship’s sentient AI Lovey, to the two-spirited navigator Ohan, each of these characters was wholly original. If nothing else, Becky Chambers is clearly a master at developing characters and alien cultures. Her world-building is evident in her careful descriptions of various species and their conventions, as well as their conflicts with other cultures.

These loveable characters and their relationships kept me engaged throughout the story, despite its very basic plot (a hodgepodge group of travellers moves from Point A to Point B with a few bumps along the way). I’m a reader who’s driven to find diverse stories, and I’m pleased to say that THE LONG WAY TO A SMALL, ANGRY PLANET fits the bill perfectly. Queer sexualities and gender identities; racial, ethnic, and cultural differences; and ultimately, completely dissimilar ways of being are all celebrated here. Three cheers for that!

As you can probably imagine given the wide array of characters on board a small spacecraft with little to do besides work and talk, there are some pretty unforgettable moments of dialogue. This is a funny, sweet, heartfelt book that had me chuckling aloud at some moments and tearing up during others. Particularly poignant were the discussions of war and its impact on societies and individuals; these discussions came from all sides, including pacifists and those who had active roles in horrible wars. While this book is hardly the “deepest” sci-fi novel I’ve read this month, it does prompt reflection on violence and whether it can be justified.

I’ve fallen in love with these characters and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for them in the sequel, A CLOSED AND COMMON ORBIT. The only thing stopping me from giving this a perfect five star rating is the plot, which I confess was a bit too barebones for my tastes. If you’re looking for an intricately plotted novel, THE LONG WAY TO A SMALL, ANGRY PLANET isn’t it – but it is an achievement in character-driven writing.

Who are your favourite characters of 2016? Have you read THE LONG WAY TO A SMALL, ANGRY PLANET? Let me know in the comments!

  • I’ve had this on my “to read” list for a while, and I hope to squeeze it in at some point. I do love to be challenged when I read, but it sure is nice to find stories that are just pure fun, and this seems like one of those. Plus, diversity is always welcome in my book!

    • Couldn’t agree with you more, Tammy! I suspect this will be making its way onto a number of “best of 2016” lists this year, so I recommend picking it up if you get the chance.

  • Yay, wasn’t this a fun book? Though I’m with you, I couldn’t quite bring myself to dish out a 5 star either because it was kind of a simple plot. The character development though, was top notch. It reminded me of watching a season of Star Trek. Will you be doing the readalong of book 2 next week?

    • It was so much fun! I confess I was *slightly* underwhelmed by it, maybe because of all the hype it’s been getting. The characters are on point though! Sadly, no I won’t be joining the readalong – I’ve got a number of books I need to read first. 🙁

  • Jolien @ The Fictional Reader

    This sounds incredible! I have to read it too, now that I’ve read your review. 🙂

    • It was really great! I hope you enjoy it Jolien, Becky Chambers is certainly one to watch.

  • I haven’t read this one, but you got me thinking of fav character

  • Yay! So glad you enjoyed it.

  • MaddalenaSpaceandSorcery

    When I tried to read this novel I was not overly taken by it, and ended up putting it to the side waiting for a better moment, or a better mood – sometimes this works when I’m not overwhelmed by a story but, at the same time, I’m not completely turned off. Your review is one of the many enthusiastic comments I’ve read that convinced me I must give this book a second chance.
    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • You know, I had a similar experience when I started reading this too. The plot wasn’t grabbing me at all. But once you get to know the characters everything comes together! I hope you like this more on the second attempt. 🙂

      • MaddalenaSpaceandSorcery

        We’ll see if the second time the… magic works 🙂

  • I’d not heard of this book before! I do love space operas and space-based novels, especially ones that seem like they could be extremely realistic. It’s wonderful that you fell in love with this story and characters!

    Great review, Danya. =)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    • One thing I’ve learned through as Sci-Fi November is that space operas are my favourite subgenre of SF. This one is a real standout!

      Thanks, Alyssa! 🙂

  • Greg Hill

    I am loving this book! I’m reading it now after it went on sale, and I’m so glad I got it. Nice to see a review. 🙂 Even though I’m still reading ha ha. I love Sissix and I agree, the world building is fabulous so far. I love all the little details of the cultures she puts in. While normally a book like this might lose a few points for the lack of action, in this case I love it- just getting to know these characters.

    • I got it on sale too! Thank goodness for Kindle deals, haha.

      Absolutely! The simple plot leaves room to explore the inner workings of all the different characters, planets, and cultures. I’m very intrigued to see where Chambers takes the story in book 2.

  • I know Aentee really loved this book and she got me interested in it initially. I love that even though this is a sci-fi, it has such a strong focus on the relationship. I’ll admit the idea of 10 perspectives is definitely a little scary, but if it’s a well-written book, I’m up for it!
    Wonderful review, Danya!

    • She was one of the bloggers who got me into this one too! I saw it on her insta (such a gorgeous feed) and was immediately intrigued.

      I can get a bit leery of multi-POV books too – although I love a dual POV romance story – but Chambers totally pulls it off. Thanks, Nick! 🙂

  • Yay, I’m glad to see you enjoyed this. I did think this book would be something you’d enjoy. I do get what you mean about the barebones plot, I was definitely feeling like there was something missing but as a whole really enjoyed it. I think my issue was that the book ended and I was left wanting more. Chambers creates this potential for a really vast scifi universe but you’re left feeling a bit like you’ve barely dipped your toes in by the end of the book. I can’t wait to read the sequel as it should (hopefully) be really good.

    I think I just loved the statement the book made about race and culture without it being about race because instead it was all about different species rather than race. It was just insanely interesting the way it was all put and so smart.

    • Yes, you’re so right! I wanted to learn more about the world (universe?) Chambers had created, too. Although I have faith that she’s got a lot more up her sleeve for the second book…hopefully it’s a bit more action packed!

      The ability to comment on something without coming right out and saying it is one of the things I’m learning to love about sci-fi. Race, sexuality, gender, religion…it’s all remarked upon in this book, yet somehow it was still a fun, light read.

      • I’ve not seen as much about the second book, though. I mean, I’m waiting for a paperback copy as I hate mismatched books on my shelves, but I’ve only seen a couple of reviews for it. I have complete faith it’ll be just as good but I wonder why it’s not getting all the love too.

        And I know, this book is insane for all the things is talks about without actually talking about it. It was a skill. I’ve not read all that much scifi but I think it’s the same in fantasy as well. As soon as you take the issues out of the real world and plonk them somewhere else out of context it’s way easier to talk sensibly about race, gender, sexuality etc. and that is weird but cool.

  • I’ve seen so many good reviews for this one. I’m a bit worried about what you wrote about the simple plot – I usually like stories to be well-rounded on all fronts (I know. I’m a demanding customer.)

    That said, you definitely make a good case for it – a good diverse story with great characters sounds perfect! 🙂

    • Hey, there’s nothing wrong with being a demanding reader! You’ve just gotta know what works for you. I recommend this one for a snowy afternoon when you just want to curl up with Baby and read a book (one handed…hahaha).

      I feel like I haven’t read enough diverse fiction this year, so I’m really glad that I was able to fit this one into my reading schedule!

  • I’ve already seen so many good reviews for this book! Everyone has said the same thing that the characters are beautifully written with a full background of culture. I’m so interested to see what everyone means by this! I also think I haven’t really read a book with this style before so I’m excited to give it a go.

    Jordon @ Simply Adrift

    • Eeeee I can’t wait to hear your houghts on this one, Jordan! These characters are some of my favourites of the year and I think you’ll really enjoy them. 🙂

  • Lynn Williams

    I really enjoyed this – funnily enough it really wasn’t what I was expecting. It is like a little series of mini adventures but like Mogsy said below the characters are amazing. You should join us for Closed and Common Orbit we’ve only read the first quarter. The next Q&A will be posted this Friday – you could probably catch up easily (well I say that quite casually without the first notion of whether or not you’re swamped with other things) but, anyway, the format for the 2nd book is completely different so it would be good to see what you make of it.
    Lynn 😀

    • Yeah, good point! It feels a bit like around the universe in 365 days, hahaha. Sadly I won’t be participating in the readalong because I’m a bit swamped with review books at the moment.

      Oooh, the format is completely different, eh? I’m very intrigued! Hopefully I’ll get to it soon.