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Wayfarers #1

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

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Follow a motley crew on an exciting journey through space—and one adventurous young explorer who discovers the meaning of family in the far reaches of the universe—in this light-hearted debut space opera from a rising sci-fi star.

Rosemary Harper doesn’t expect much when she joins the crew of the aging Wayfarer. While the patched-up ship has seen better days, it offers her a bed, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy, and most importantly, some distance from her past. An introspective young woman who learned early to keep to herself, she’s never met anyone remotely like the ship’s diverse crew, including Sissix, the exotic reptilian pilot, chatty engineers Kizzy and Jenks who keep the ship running, and Ashby, their noble captain.

Life aboard the Wayfarer is chaotic and crazy—exactly what Rosemary wants. It’s also about to get extremely dangerous when the crew is offered the job of a lifetime. Tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet is definitely lucrative and will keep them comfortable for years. But risking her life wasn’t part of the plan. In the far reaches of deep space, the tiny Wayfarer crew will confront a host of unexpected mishaps and thrilling adventures that force them to depend on each other. To survive, Rosemary’s got to learn how to rely on this assortment of oddballs—an experience that teaches her about love and trust, and that having a family isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the universe.

519 pages, Kindle Edition

First published July 29, 2014

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Becky Chambers

26 books14.1k followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 19,118 reviews
9 reviews63 followers
April 14, 2015
10 reasons I love The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet:

1. Feel-good science fiction. Bad things happen. Injustice exists. And yet, the world is a mostly beautiful and good place. Bad people exist, but people in general are mostly nice and almost always interesting. It’s a truly heart-warming novel.

2. It’s a great big world. There are all these interesting alien species, with interesting cultures and history which affect their society. If you love well-written settings where the lore isn’t a bunch of facts but is actually a huge factor in the plot, you will like this.

3. Great characters. This is a character-driven story. Every crew member matters and is made interesting and memorable. This isn’t a story about the Chosen One saving the galaxy. This is the story of the crew on a ship that builds traffic routes. Sure, they’re a rather unique bunch, but ultimately there are a lot of ships like theirs and a lot of equally interesting destinies in the galaxy.

4. Great female characters. I’m not quite sure who I like more - the badass pilot, the smart but inexperienced clerk or the mechanic who spreads joy around her and keeps the ship from exploding. Or maybe that male crewmember’s love interest, who is the captain of a military freight ship and has more scars than her boyfriend. Or maybe the many women mentioned in passing who have agency and are out there doing things. Researchers, soldiers, doctors, ship captains, cult members, pilots, mechanics, traders, politicians…

5. It’s anti-prejudice. It’s relaxing to read authors who actually like people. I read a lot, but it’s not often that I see a character think “wow, she’s weird - wait, that was a bit prejudiced of me.” It’s not just that, though. The world itself seems much less sexist, racist, homophobic and transphobic than today’s world. It’s a very relaxing world to get to inhabit for a while.

6. Everyone isn’t white and straight. Tired of sci-fi and fantasy settings like that? Here, have a setting where most humans are people of color and where non-straight relationships really aren’t a big deal.

7. Aliens who upset the gender binary. Some people use xe or they as pronouns. Some species change sex during their life time, going from female to male to neither. None of it is treated as weird or icky or annoying. This makes me very happy. Even in our world, gender’s a lot more complicated than “there are two sexes,” yet books are often “here are all these extraordinary species that are totally different from humans, yet every single being is still either male or female.”

8. The aliens are strange, but so are the humans. Human culture is as interesting as the alien cultures. Human culture has actually been shaped by history. For example, the culture of the Exodus Fleet has a pacifistic streak, which has formed Ashby’s strong aversion to weapons. There’s also the fact that humans don’t have one unified culture - there are differences between Mars and the Exodus Fleet, as well as differences based on class and where you grew up.

9. The clerk who kicks ass. As an academic, it makes me happy to see someone save the day more than once by being knowledgable, doing research and filling out the right forms.

10. The author is very nice. Got a lore question? Send it to @beckysaysrawr on Twitter and get it answered. Becky Chambers is a writer, journalist, editor and all around cool person who seems very happy to talk to her fans.

(11. I just spent waaay too long writing this post. Seriously, it’s unhealthy. I need food and my back is killing me. If that’s not proof I love this book, I don’t know what is.)
Profile Image for Ed.
65 reviews57 followers
March 28, 2016
This was really, really not my cup of tea and I threw in the towel 2/3 of the way in. I was surprised at how disappointing it was given that I picked it up on the basis of the normally dependable Adam Roberts' recommendation in his end of year 2015 round-up in the Guardian.

I understand the desire to move SF from plot-driven narratives to character-driven narratives but you are throwing the baby out with the bathwater if your character-driven narrative doesn't actually contain any characters worth reading about. The wafer thin plot could be summarised as a bunch of super best friends have a whizzo time pootling about the galaxy eating food and learning trite lessons on the importance of diversity with zero tension or conflict.

The author seems to be trying to emulate the Joss Whedon and associates style of breezy television writing (Firefly, Buffy, Shield etc) which also depicts groups of friends having adventures but what imitators forget is that Whedon created conflict between his characters, he threw massive obstacles in their path, he made them hate each other sometimes, he *scarred* them, he often killed them and so the lessons that they learnt about acceptance and loyalty and diversity and courage etc genuinely resonated with the viewer because they were hard won. This by contrast is tepid, innocuous, and faintly patronising, perfect for a 21st century audience that wants to feel cozy and be spoon fed all the answers.

The popular culture discourse in SF and elsewhere is being poisoned by idiot man-children of various stripes, so the impulse to embrace this as a response is understandable and something I get, but this is so unchallenging as a piece of art I can't help but feel it does more harm than good in the long run.
Profile Image for Melanie.
1,165 reviews98.2k followers
January 3, 2022

“The truth is, Rosemary, that you are capable of anything. Good or bad. You always have been, and you always will be. Given the right push, you, too, could do horrible things. That darkness exists within all of us.”

This is the kind of book that makes you remember why you fell in love with reading. This is the kind of book that feels so powerful you can’t believe it exists. This is the kind of book that sets your very soul on fire and makes you want to do better. This is the kind of book that instills a hope so great that you feel like you could make a difference. This is the kind of book that you won’t be the same after finishing.

I recommend this book to every single person in this entire galaxy and to whatever else is out there and still unknown.

Also, please know that there is no semblance of a review that I could write that would do this book even a percent of justice or let you know even an ounce of how much it impacted me. But I’m going to try my best, because this book deserves nothing less.

I suppose the easy thing to say is that this book is about a crew, traveling through space on the Wayfarer, exploring the galaxy and taking on new adventures. And a new crewmember has just arrived, not knowing what to expect.

“They were reminders of what a fragile thing it was to be alive.”

(Beautiful fanart of the crew by SebasP!) 💗

Rosemary - A human who has just left her home planet to join the crew on the Wayfarer.

Sissix - An Aandrisk and pilot of the Wayfarer. One of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read in my entire life was seeing Rosemary learn about Sissix’s hatch family, feather family, and house family. Seriously, it’s so beautiful that I don’t even have words. Sissix not only beautifully gave me a polyamorous story line, but also the f/f romance of my dreams.

Ashby - The captain of the Wayfarer. My soft and strong boy. Nothing but all the love and respect in the entire world for my captain.

Jenks - A technician on the Wayfarer. I will say I think the moment I fell in love with this book was when Jenks asked Lovey, “What kind of body do you want to have?” One of my biggest pet peeves in all of literature is when authors give AIs genders. And seeing Lovey decide what she wanted to be… friends, I don’t have words for how beautiful it is. You all know that I’m pansexual, so maybe I’m stretching here, but I think Jenks is my new pansexual hero, by the way.

Lovey - The AI of the Wayfarer. My heart, my soul, my everything. Becky Chambers is seriously an expert word weaver to make me feel all the things that I feel for Lovey.

Dr. Chef - A Grum and the most amazing doctor and chef upon the Wayfarer. A highlight in this perfect book was seeing Dr. Chef become Dr. Chef and everything that had to do with Grums. Again, so beautiful and I would happily trade lessons for his soup, too.

“You Humans really do cripple yourselves with your belief that you all think in unique ways.”

Corbin - Human and algaeist on the Wayfarer. Likes to be alone, and that’s okay.

Ohan - Sianat Pair and the navigator of the Wayfarer. They help Sissix and keep to themselves for the most part. But the end of this story really blew me away involving them.

Kizzy - A technician on the Wayfarer. Never, have I ever, read a character that I felt I was personally more like than Kizzy Shao. From her being so talkative, to always trying to be cheerful and positive, to her playing dating sims and loving all food, especially all things spicy, to her loving so unconditionally. I will never answer another bookish question of “what character are you most like” with bits and pieces from other books, because I truly see all of myself in Kizzy. Oh, and her being Asian warms my damn heart, too.

Friends, I have never fallen in love with fictional character the way that I fell in love with all the members on the Wayfarer.

“Time could crawl, it could fly, it could amble. Time was a slippery thing.”

(Beautiful fanart of Rosemary, Kizzy, and Jenks by Izzi Ward!) 💗

One of my favorite things in all of literature is reading about found families and having that be a pivotal aspect to a story. Friends, I feel bad praising any other book before this one, because this is the found family of my soul. I have never read a book with a better found family in my entire life, and I don’t think I ever will.

This book also emphasizes the importance of respect; respecting peoples’ pronouns, peoples’ bodies, and peoples’ feelings. And the representation in this book is honestly unparalleled. From different species, to different races, to different genders, to different sexualities, to different mental health issues, to different bodies types, to different upbringings, to different cultures, to different traditions, to different religions, to different social settings, to so much more.

This book touches upon gun control, and how no amount of weapons will ever make a person feel safe. How filling a home with devices meant to kill will never make a person feel more safe. I live in the United States, so I see people constantly going back and forth about gun control every single day, but I will never put more value on a soulless piece of metal over a piece of an actual person. And that’s the hill I’ll maybe die on because firearm assaults kill about 13,000 Americans each year.

This book also tackles colonialism, xenophobia, and racism at the forefront of this story. And how just because you don’t understand something, doesn't mean that way is wrong or less. And how taking over and forcing your ways and your beliefs on anyone else will never be the right way.

“People can do terrible things when they feel safe and powerful.”

Yet, again, this book also leaves you feeling so much hope. And it reiterates how we are not to be blamed for the mistakes and wars that our parents started. How each one of us can make a difference, and truly lead a better and kinder future for the next generation.

Overall, I think it’s pretty obvious that I loved this with my heart, my soul, and the sum of my being. I will say that this is a very character driven story, and I know that’s not for everyone, but if you connect with these characters even a fraction of the amount that I did, you are going to love this book, too. Becky Chambers has created something so unique, so special, and so thought provoking. This is a very quiet book, but it speaks so loudly. This crew, these words, this book, they all mean more to me than I can express. Never have I closed a book and felt such an extreme feeling of hope before.

“…All any of us can do – is work to be something positive instead. That is a choice that every sapient must make every day of their life. The universe is what we make of it. It’s up to you to decide what part you will play.”

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Content and trigger warnings for murder, death, loss of a loved one, PTSD depiction, grief depiction, blood depiction, and general war themes.

Buddy read with Imi at Imi Reviews Books! ❤
Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
793 reviews3,602 followers
February 7, 2021
The future of social Sci-Fi, the evolution of emotion in space, a completely different, fresh, and astonishing approach towards the common Sci-Fi tropes, an immediate, instant modern masterpiece, possibly even a kind of new subgenre changing the landscape of Sci-Fi like Octavia E Butler.

We simply don´t know what kind of new relationship models and general consensus about what is appropriate in mixed human, human hybrid, robot, alien, etc. relationships and what not may come. There lie as many possibilities as dangers too and is just one of the many aspects of it. But what about personality, adaptability, the AI knowing that one has certain preferences and just simulating something that´s exactly what one deems perfect, individual perfect partner simulations. At this moment , where is the difference to someone who is truly in fleshy love, what is deception, what still true? If one subjectively loves, who cares and what´s the difference? At which moment is it cruel to mistreat, isolate, kill, or just ignore the feelings, of a human made entity? Is it just a machine, an algorithm, or are his fears and happiness similar or equal to human emotions, because it has digital consciousness, identity, and an understanding of what´s happening? Is it better to have a perfect AI cohabitant for an endless, perfect, love, or a long one if immortality is still not available, or is it sick and disturbing, because one prefers metal before flesh? Not even mentioning that it could be transferred in any, beautiful, changeable if the sexual preferences may switch and vary, body.

Already now, it´s predictable that many will choose a digital avatar with splendid deep, self learning algorithms, instead of nothing or bad bleedable alternatives, even without the body. A faithful, motivating, loving, and unreal partner instead of harsh relationship reality or d**** and b******. That all is of course just relevant for women who think about others and emotions, men's´ decisions are quite predestined. I mean, ahem, of course, we would choose real partners instead of immediately changeable, never aging, perfect cyborgs, clones, and VR simulations. Sorry, nature made us that way, it´s not our fault, it´s even important for human survival. What a cheap excuse.

I´ve read tons of Sci-Fi and how female writers think about the subjects is much more emotionally complex than anything males have produced so far, because their main focus is on worldbuilding, philosophy, complex multi plotted high space opera sagas, and generally avoiding going too deep into character, especially female ones, because that´s tricky as hell. That´s also part of genre conventions, because readers expect action filled, mindblowing, quick narrative styles without much insights into character's evolution and depts and because it´s, as said, extremely hard to write believable characters in a complex, multi plotted, event driven rollercoaster of a series. It would mean to combine, coordinate, and finetune both outside events and inner perspectives to a credible, satisfying read, choosing the right lengths for both passages, and even avoiding stereotypes.

Here, the rare female Sci-Fi writers blow perspectives by not showing the 284th reincarnation of stereotypical evil alien overlord this and AI rebellion that, but letting interesting characters collide without any violence, epic space battles, etc., but by generating extreme suspense out of the Sci-Fi tropes put inside the characters motivations, characters, feelings, and goals, making it deep, thoughtful, and touching reads. That´s more compelling, because unused and mindbogglingly inspirational ideas to think about real human interaction parameters come to mind too, and leaves one with the realization that the author reached the überlevel of telling a slow, relatively settingless, but extremely addictive story, doing what many authors fear because of its complexity, making the characters and not agendas, technology, thought experiments, ideology, sciences, etc. the prime directive.

Instead of jumping from space battle to alien invasion to badass antagonist dialogue explaining his genocidal plans etc, Chambers shows peaceful clashes and culminations of alien species and ideologies, creating new, amazing, indirect insights into the dysfunctionalities and illogicality of human culture, tradition, and faith.

The way the book deals with the inner worlds of the characters in this way to generate suspense is amazing. In general Sci-Fi, there are relative mundane motivations as saving or destroying worlds, taking revenge, general social criticism, etc. In this case, the unique physical and psychological properties of the characters open endless opportunities for the reader to guess what may happen. In contrast to standard Sci-Fi, where it is pretty clear where it will go with business as usual, the reader has hardly any hints where the story might go in this case.

There are so many combinations of fresh ideas that come to mind while reminiscing about the brilliance of this novel and how many uses there may be found in future social Sci-Fi novels. I haven´t read much social Sci-Fi for the simple reason that´s it´s even more underrated than conventional Sci-Fi and that there aren´t enough meta rating scores to make sure that it are good reads and not average or strange and even bad ones. Sorry, I am not altruistic enough to risk reading something bad to find pearls, shall others risk their lifetime.

I wouldn´t call this space opera anymore, because this implies and relates to the cheap soap opera name giver, it´s more of a high social sci-fi series, something screaming for an own genre name, cyberlove, futurefu... eel, alien affairs, etc.

Chambers shows, by transporting the endless variety of emotional, personal topics into a character is story setting, that there is an unexplored land of imagining social and emotional life into the future, especially regarding completely different cultural conditioning, norms, rules, epigenetic traits, letting aliens species with completely different attitudes collide, quarrel, love, interbreed, to construct a resource of an amount of stories as potentially endless as space.

Tropes show how literature is conceived and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique:
Profile Image for carol..
1,532 reviews7,856 followers
October 28, 2018
Niceness is undervalued. In an age of cynicism, we believe very little is done altruistically: this politician is facilitating an international adoption for campaign-fodder; that site is offering $1.99 books to boost web traffic; that church is holding a Sunday neighborhood BBQ to evangelize. Our stories show similar cynicism. We've embraced tortured dark heroes, we give five stars to stories sympathizing with killers and rapists, and although we believe a good guy can still win, the only way he can is by embracing his dark side.

One reason The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet proved so enjoyable is that it believes in the better side of human and alien nature. It begins with Rosemary, a naif running from her family's past to take a position on a tunneling ship, a specialized kind of spaceship that creates 'shipping lane' wormholes to connect distant points. The story is set in galaxy of aliens, with the human race supported by the Harmagians, an intelligent oyster-like creature, and Aeluons, in attempting to recover the ruined Earth. The captain of the Wayfarer hired Rosemary hoping that a licensed clerk would give access to bigger jobs, and it's a gamble that pays off when they are offered a contract to create a tunnel near the galaxy core and the warlike Toremi, new members of the Galactic Confederation.

Much like any ship-enclosed story, it largely becomes about the characters and how they interact. Characterization is one of the story strengths; through small, focused interactions, almost each crew member is fleshed out. Rosemary, Sissex and Dr. Chef feel the most well-rounded. Ashby, the captain, is mostly concerned about his crew, getting the contract and his not-so-secret paramour. Kizzy and Jenks are the mechanical engineers who keep the ship running. Kizzy is often comic relief. Jenks is having a secret relationship with the ship A.I., Lovelace. Corbin is the algae biologist who keeps the fuel running, Dr. Chef is combination cook and medic, Sissix is the reptilian pilot and Ohan is the virus-merged Sianat pair who can calculate the complex physics required to tunnel through space. At times, Kizzy bordered on the absurd, but her personality stayed solidly genuine and she did provide a few laugh-out-loud moments, particularly her (mis-heard) song about "My Socks Match My Hat."

Plotting was unsteady. A number of readers relate this book to the Firefly tv series, and it's easy to see why; a loveable, ragtag crew copes with various adversities in weekly adventures. However, the pacing of the smaller on-the-way elements to the overarching story of the big tunneling job is uneven. The trip is supposed to take a standard year, but with a couple of stopovers, it seems no different than any other time period of the book. More significantly, the ending felt incredibly rushed, again incongruous with the lengthy and significant trip. When I learned from one of my co-readers that Chambers had lost her job and created a Kickstarter to fund finishing the book, it made more sense. I can't wait to see what she does with time and resources.

My last quibble is with narrative style. It's often a third-person omniscient, unevenly taking turns between various characters. Interspersed are missives, whether personal letters, information requests or news bulletins. I think they are meant to serve as information, but they distract from the friendly tone of the crew and further interrupt story pacing. I initially ignored them, until I learned one near the end of the book drops a significant story point. Conversation is often didactic style, with a character asking a question or seeking explanation and another answering. Although it doesn't quite have the dreaded, "as you know, Bob..." feel, in a few spots it feels clunky. In others, it just feels borderline lecturing about ethical principles. Well, what can I say: she's preaching to the choir. I appreciate the hope that we can find enough common ground or space to live with each other.

Thematically, there's some interesting exploration of some very topical and complicated topics such as safety and defense, individual right-to-die, identity, violence, sexuality and what makes a community. Chambers is also very inclusive in her visions of alien-ness as well as human beings, which is frankly a delight to find in science fiction. It isn't going to work for everyone; I'd recommend it for people who enjoy character-driven stories and envisioning alien cultures. Overall, it was a quick read, despite the size, and easy to spend time with the crew. I'm looking forward to finding out what they do next.

Many, many thanks to those at Goodreads who participated in a flash read and shared their insights. I enjoyed sharing perspectives and bouncing off ideas. Find them at https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...
Profile Image for Scott.
290 reviews299 followers
August 8, 2017
Welcome to the Starship Ned Flanders.

Seriously though, while the central ship in The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet is actually named The Wayfarer almost everyone in the book is so cloyingly sweet that the name of the Simpsons' archetypal nice guy seems like a better fit. There's friendly Captain Flanders, chirpy lady engineer Flanders, friendly dwarf Flanders... you get the idea. Even the ship AI is a little Flandersesque.

Everybody seems to want to be everyone else's bestie (with the exception of the one guy on the ship who is the designated grumpy asshole character) and from early on the story was much too saccharine for my taste. I wanted to bail out at forty pages, but finally gave up at 70%, making this one of the very rare SF books that I haven't finished.

The story begins with a young woman named Rosemary who is fleeing her past. She signs onto a ship that punches wormholes into space for an interstellar transit network and joins the crew as they head to their largest job yet - an important wormhole in a war-torn territory at the borders of the multi-species confederacy that controls most of civilized space.

Rosemary travels with the crew as they visit various worlds en-route to their gig. A number of things happen on the trip, but they are all so low-stakes that their impact on the crew is minimal at best. Pirates attack, but they are easily dealt with. Gigantic insects swarm a world the crew is on, but cause only minor travel inconveniences. I never felt anyone was really under threat or that there was any real crisis occurring.

We join the crew for meals, for wormhole tunneling jobs, shopping trips and sundry other generally low stakes activities that are all chances for long, life-affirming we’re-all-buddies chats leavened with great clumps of exposition. No one is ever really mean, or greedy, or even selfish and I kept imagining the crew as an ongoing group-hug in physical form. I found myself craving some real conflict- an argument, a lost temper, hell even a few harsh words. Even Rosemary's past is disappointingly tame and when it's revealed the consequences are resolved in a matter of paragraphs. Don’t go into this expecting a twisted past anywhere near the level of Reynold's Chasm City or Banks' Use of Weapons.

There's some cool, if familiar stuff here - The Long Way... is set in a Mass Effect-like society of aliens where humanity is very much a bit player. The Bioware similarities also extend to a human-AI relationship, where the human suffers from a physical condition (Dwarfism), much like Joker and EDI in the Mass Effect games. The worldbuilding is good, and Chamber’s characters are very diverse, if not very interesting.

Overall though, The Long Way... really isn’t compelling reading. Chamber’s book feels very much like a gentle Young Adult novel about friendship and acceptance, rather than the Space Opera it is billed as.

There a lot of people who love this book, and writing a poor review of it feels a bit like publicly kicking a kitten, but it just didn't work for me. I don't demand space battles in the books I read. I don't need my SF to pulse to the pew-pew beat of laser cannon fire. I love work of the sort Ada Palmer did with Too Like The Lightning - thoughtful, intelligent SF that isn't centered on muscly white guys yelling "Hoo-rah!" before they "fry some bugs". I love the more representative SF culture that is bringing diverse voices and points of view to my favorite genre.

However, reading this book has reminded me that I don't go to SF for a cosy comfort blanket of affirmation and warm fuzzies. I need conflict. I need tension. I need the flickering spark of human warmth struggling against the cold, hard vacuum.
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,460 reviews9,613 followers
December 24, 2020
UPDATE: $1.99 Kindle US 5/19/19

I freaking loved this book! And yes, I cried! It was good crying though!

I always get nervous reading a sci-fi book because I'm afraid I won't know what's going on - and yes I say that every time. BUT <--- this book is so awesome. A couple of things went over my head but who cares!

I had no clue what a sci-fi soap opera was but if they are all like this book then I want to read more. I'm going to be buying this one and I did pre-order the next book!

This isn't just some space odyssey, it's about people and aliens and being a family!

I want you to know that I fell in love with all of the characters on this ship! Even ole grumpy, Corbin, later on in the book. We get to learn about each character. Their pasts, if they are alien, what kind of aliens they are and most of the stories are told through the person/alien so you get a better understanding.

Everyone in the book had to make choices, to share their secrets, to make choices for others so they wouldn't die even if they didn't want that choice made, thoughts and feelings toward other crew members, AI love, people trying to hide their love for things that just finally had to come out. Doing things for each other even if you don't really like each other because you are crew mates and you are family. These aliens and people have been together for years and years.

Rosemary is the new comer to the Wayfarer ship and family. But she soon finds out what it means to have a real family, to find love, to fight for each others survival.

Ashby is the captain, Kizzy and Jenks are the engine crew, Sissix is a pilot, Dr. Chef is the doctor and the chef, Lovey is the ships system, Ohan is the Navigator and Corbin is in charge of algae. They all play crucial parts in the running of the ship. Rosemary is there to help with secretary like stuff, for lack of a better word.

But they all go above and beyond to help each other do whatever to help out. They make tunnels to other places to make it easier for other people/aliens in the galaxy. They make good money but this latest job, which is more money than they have ever gotten, leads them into enemy territory under a planned alliance with the Toremi Ka. This doesn't go very well, but they are an evil race so it's to be expected. They almost lost their lives. They did lose a few things and almost lost the ship.

But all of that isn't until almost the end of the book. This is mostly about them going through space, stopping at markets and having some fun, meeting new people on different planets to get things they need, pirates, gross arse cooked up bugs and stuff, old friends/new friends. And I just loved it! I loved learning about all of these people and the things they went through and the evil people and the bots and this that and the other. Oh, and dear Kizzy making little winter hats for her fixbots. I need a picture of that! I wish this would be made into a movie. Just seeing how they handle all of the creatures alone would be awesome.

Anyhoo, I loved it and I hope you do too but it may not be for you. I'm just glad it was for me ♥

MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,962 followers
February 10, 2017
Recommended to me as a cure for the heavy, blood and guts diet that's so prevalent in today's SF/F, I was more than just a little bit interested in an antidote.

What I found, instead, was a heartily tasty meal of perfectly prepared insects aboard the Wayfarer, enjoying wonderful conversations and a surprisingly diverse collection of humans, aliens, and a truly beautiful soul within an AI.

I mean, this is space-opera. Don't get the wrong idea. There's a couple of tight spots, thievery and tragic death. We are invited into ideologically divisive pockets of space and culture, the breaking of laws, and of course we get paid well to do a skilled job equally well.

But what I hadn't expected was the love.

There was a lot of love in these pages. Not just of the author to her extremely well-drawn characters, but between the characters themselves, hidden in nooks and crannies, blazingly obvious in other instants, and as wide and complex as the worlds the individuals came from. In other words, we got just the tip of the iceberg, and our imaginations fill in so much of the rest, to our delight.

So is this space-opera, or not? Of course it is! But think of it more like distilling and creating anew some of those old favorites, bits and pieces here from Babylon 5, ST:TNG, Red Dwarf, or even a taste of Enterprise. The tropes are familiar, but the tale-crafter, her worlds, and her spacecraft is most certainly not.

She's made something delightful and new, humorous and lovely, and at one point I would have said this whole novel would have been a light read, but no, there's real meat here. There's anger and hope and desperation with all the love and humor.

It feels real, and it touches my heart.

So did it heal my pained MilSF heart, my PTSD Fantasy mind?

Maybe not entirely, but it is certainly a very excellent palliative and perhaps with a few more gems like this, I might just be able to rejoin the service once again. :)
Profile Image for Ivan.
417 reviews277 followers
February 9, 2018
DNF@ 60%

I went with huge expectations. In blurbs comparisons where made to Ursula Le Guin and Firefly mention those two is sure ways to get my undivided attention. Sadly this book is nothing like my favorite tv show and it's nowhere near of depth of Le Guin's books.
If I had to describe this book to anyone I would call it cross between Farscape and Disney fairytale.
I did have some fun with it but around 60% of this book amount of sweetness and cheeseness become overwhelming. Character driven sci-fi should have proper characters and character development, not Care bears in alien costumes.This book is just too naive, everyone is so nice, polite, warm and excepting and bad characters are just stereotypicaly bad .There is no room for drama and character growth.

In the end this book just wasn't for me.Maybe it's because I expected something of depth of Le Guin's books that blurbs mentioned, maybe it's because I was still under impression of much better character driven sci-fi (Planetfall) which I read around same time, maybe I am just too much of Cynic to swallow something this warm and sweet and maybe it's combination of all those. In any case this book is getting 1 stars from me.
Profile Image for Maxwell.
1,133 reviews8,133 followers
May 4, 2016
3.5 stars

If you're looking for an action-packed, page-turning adventure story, this book is not for you. However, if you want a sci-fi novel that delivers wonderful characters and thoughtful commentary on existence, you've found the right book.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is something unique. It blends literary and science fictions into a story that looks at what it means to be human--or alien--amidst a world of chaos.

And while I really enjoyed reading about these characters and their quirky, distinct personalities, there was no growth. This was much more a story of character & thematic exploration than development. By about 50 pages in, I knew exactly what I was getting. And that's what I got. So even though I had a great time reading this story, I wasn't blown away. I also felt that some of the themes that Becky Chambers is exploring in this story are written too explicitly; the reader can pretty clearly see the author's opinions in this story--and while I don't disagree with anyone of them, it made the reading experience a bit less fun. I like to discover things on my own, not have them handed to me.

Ultimately this is a really touching and refreshing sci-fi (not that I have a ton of experience in the genre, but still, based on my limited experiences & others' reviews, I can tell this is something different in this realm). And I'm interested to see how the companion novel coming out later this year will be received. I might just have to pick it up.
Profile Image for Chelsea (chelseadolling reads).
1,478 reviews19.2k followers
August 31, 2018
Re-read 8/9/18: I’m crying in a puddle of my feels. I love this book so damn much. JENKS ❤️😭

Original review 11/23/16: I have just completed reading my favorite book of all time. There has never been a book to touch me as much as this one did. I just. I can't. I'm like. Spent. I cannot even comprehend or articulate how much I loved this fucking book. Oh my god
Profile Image for s.penkevich.
849 reviews5,813 followers
May 24, 2023
The universe is what we make of it. It’s up to you to decide what part you will play.

This book left me speechless, and with some tears. I love this book with my whole heart. I imagine reading A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, the debut novel from Becky Chambers, to be what it is to a dog when they get a really good belly rub. You know, the kind where their leg is twitching and it just seems like pure bliss. Who hasn’t fantasized themselves in some fantastic future world, soaring amongst the stars with a headful of heroics? I spent many days as a kid wishing I could be part of these epic adventures. Chambers, offers such an opportunity aboard the ship The Wayfarer. The novel is practically an immersive experience in a sci-fi galaxy so well constructed and narrated that it feels very lived-in, and by the novels end you feel as if you are a part of the crew, having spent so much time amongst the endlessly lovable cast of characters. This is enhanced as, while most sci-fi epics put us with the elite heroes, the chosen few upon which the fate of a galaxy rests, Chambers lets us see how the average citizen of their Galactic Commons lives, loves, works and dreams. ‘The people we remember are the ones who decided how our maps should be drawn. Nobody remembers who built the roads,’ yet Chambers creates a blissful drama full of life aboard a ship that does just that: builds “roads” between planets across space. Often described as “cozy sci-fi”—an apt description if there is any—this first book of the Wayfarers plunges us into an exciting cosmos to live amongst the regular folks and look at how a universe of multiple species would feasibly coexist and is an excellent exploration on themes of cooperation, plurality, friendship, and identity while also a condemnation of war and power. In short, this book is a universe unto itself.

In epic space films we often see entire ships or planets destroyed and just move along, death on such a large scale it becomes that Stalin quote about one death a tragedy, a million a statistic. Long Way to a Small Angry Planet zooms in to the individual level and shows how for the regular person caught up in these cosmic struggles just a single death could be a universe of grief. It brings us to the level of what goes on with the Red Shirts in Star Trek, the transport crews in Star Wars, the regular staff in Dune, a crew full of non-combatants just trying to live their life in the universe. I love this crew. I can’t help it after feeling their kinship, engaging with their struggles, and watching them learn and love with each other. We are brought aboard the Wayfarer along with Rosemary, a young woman with a new identity fleeing a mysterious past and welcomed in to their crew. I’d tell you about them all, but I’d rather you get to meet them for yourselves. It’s been a few days since I finished the book and I rather miss them, so say hello for me.

Perhaps the ache of homesickness was a fair price to pay for having so many good people in her life.

What really grabs me about this book is the emphasis on how to make the universe work, even just aboard a ship staffed by a variety of different species. Details like Aandrisk-friendly cups to accommodate a lack of lips or other alterations and safety procedures for ease of access on ships for certain species, discussions on cultural or species differences or examples of interspecies frustrations due to them, and even a sort of sci-fi racism is present (the term “lizard” is a massive slur). Working a DEI committee for a library and often thinking on accommodation and equity I really enjoyed how much attention to these ideas Chambers includes as a brilliant way of making the world feel real and lived-in. Communication is key to much of this, such as language barriers and attempting to ‘not judge other species by your own social norms,’ even a interesting discussion on how the human language is biased against reptilian species (‘cold blooded’ having negative connotations, etc).

Feelings are relative. And at the root, they’re all the same, even if they grow from different experiences and exist on different scales.

This applies to cultural aspects too, and Chambers includes exceptional drama with trying to decide the “right” thing to do when there is a clash in cultural beliefs. ‘This is so fucking Human of you,’ Captain Ashby is told at a critical moment, ‘Lie back and let the galaxy do whatever it wants, because you’re too guilty about how badly you fucked up your own species to ever take the initiative.’There are interesting discussions, such as Sissix finding it strange humans view a baby dying as more tragic than an adult (a baby has not accomplished anything while an adult has and has knowledge that could be passed on is the Aandrisk perspective), there is a species that finds taking anything more than you need to be not only wasteful but immoral, and the variations of sexuality and family structures is fascinating (Aandrisks have a “hatch-family” and a “feather-family” for instance, with the chosen family being more important than biological). It all makes for a great commentary on our own times and the need to accommodate plurality, something that is under political attack in the US from which Chambers wrote this novel. It is in the novel as well, with the uneasy alliance with the Toremi—a warmongering species thats inclusion into the Galactic Commons (GC) drives the main plot points—further frustrated by their rejection of plurality and belief in full consensus (they see the universe is complex patterns but reject multiple interpretations being allowed to co-exist).

You Humans really do cripple yourselves with your belief that you all think in unique ways.

I enjoyed how it is mentioned Corbin, who is white, is a rarity and almost all humans are people of color which feels akin to the sci-fi futures of Ursula K. Le Guin who usually applies a wide racial cast and has stated her lack of white people in the future is because ‘why wouldn’t they still be either a minority, or just swallowed up in the larger colored gene pool, in the future?.’ That is certainly present here, with other nods to Le Guin including the nod to the galactic communication device being called the “ansible,” a tech from her books. The humans here have come from our Earth, which is now unlivable due to human destruction and wars (I enjoyed the digs at cults like the highly xenophobic Gaiaists wanted to abandon the galaxy and return to Earth or the Survivalists who reject technology or vaccines wanting a human surpremacist society) but in this future amongst the stars they are fairly mediocre and not exactly highly respected. They are viewed as too emotional, weak and fragile, and there is a comedic moment when characters playing an old human game (chess) joke at how human games used to be about conquest but in the present the idea of humans being conquerors is laughable. ‘The only reason Humans stopped killing each other to the extent that you used to, I think, is because your planet died before you could finish the job,’ we are told. It is a good warning in a book largely about cooperation.

No good can come from a species at war with itself,’ Chambers writes, and this hits at a major theme in the novel. We have the humans, but also the tragic history of the Grum and why they are going extinct after years of developing more and more lethal technology to kill each other in horrific fashion in their wars. There is an excellent political narrative in this book and while it mostly exists in the background, the repercussions of it constantly arise and often harm the regular people just doing their jobs and living their lives despite it being so much larger and beyond them. ‘The thing is, a lot of laws are stupid, too, and they don't always keep people out of danger,’ we are told, and often we see how the politics of the galaxy is far more about feeding the powerful than protecting the people. Ownership of resources drives much of the politics and becomes an excellent commentary on our own global politics as it is the future’s politics. A rich person selling weapons to both sides of a war for personal gain (a narrative threaded through the newscasts) is decried as wrong and punished, but a government doing the same thing is “business as usual” and rewarded with power. And people die for these power struggles while being hardly a blip on the news.

World building is a strong gift for Chambers and, like many Le Guin novels, this reads like a sociological exploration of a galaxy via a cozy narrative. It is incredibly well constructed and while she throws a multitude of in-world terms at you, she excels at putting them in contexts for you to learn them without having to explain them. By the end of the book what sounds like gibberish to an outsider is perfectly understandable to the reader. It is accomplished without much exposition either, having passages that are “historical texts” or essays that provide context and much of the explaining is done via conversations between regular people in the ways regular people would talk about events. It allows you to experience and learn on the ground level instead of being lectured, and it really works. You feel like you exist in their world, its quite impressive.

The book is also rather episodic while following a fairly basic narrative forward, giving you cool windows of insight to the galaxy through short, contained narratives inside the larger one. This is a very character driven story and one in which discovering or being true to your identity while also being part of the larger world is a major theme. This can be tricky in a dangerous universe full of corruption.
You are capable of anything. Good or bad. You always have been, and you always will be. Given the right push, you, too, could do horrible things. That darkness exists within all of us.

It is also about rising above all that, and doing the right thing. It is about exploring what it means to live and feel and coexist. Things are frightening but ‘scared means we want to live,’ as Kizzy says, and pushing on despite fear and struggles is key to being alive. What really drives the point home in a cool way is how two of the moments that most humanize the characters involves characters not considered “people” in the galaxy (like a clone, or an AI), and the biggest moment of grief allows for a tragic but beautiful look at love in a sci-fi future.

A black hole is a perfect place to contemplate death.

Honestly I could go on and on about this book forever. It isn’t one for everyone, and if action or a strong plot is what you seek, perhaps look elsewhere. But for a gorgeous, lived-in universe full of fascinating characters and a look at how that would feasibly work, this is an absolute gem. It’s cozy, its comforting, its often hilarious and touching, but it also critiques society, war and the power structures that make war and societal suffering happen. We see how the average person is so small and fragile against the scope of political struggles of the rich and we see how it is the average person that becomes expendable pawns in their games. But most of all, we see how being alive is a joy when you can share it with others, even sharing pain and fear, and great things can happen when we try to work together. Love is the message here, and we have interspecies romantic love and familial love, both of which are necessary and good. It’s so charming. A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet was a burst of sunshine in my life, and I hated finishing it because I just want to sail the stars with that crew. Come aboard, there is much to see.


You're Rosemary Harper. You chose that name because the old one didn't fit anymore. So you had to break a few laws to de it. Big fucking deal. Life isn't fair, and laws usually aren't, either. You did what you had to do.
Profile Image for Emily (Books with Emily Fox).
531 reviews58.5k followers
October 4, 2017
4.5 A great feel-good sci-fi and character-driven story that explores gender, race, politics, and sexuality.
There were some great friendships, I giggled a few times and it was an oddly relaxing read!

I need to pick up the next one!
Profile Image for Althea Ann.
2,232 reviews1,016 followers
August 8, 2017
The sequel to this was a Hugo nominee, so I figured I'd start with the first one, and requested it from the library. Well, maybe the sequel was a lot better, but unless I am assured of such a circumstance by a large and passionate crowd; I'm unlikely to bother to find out.

"The Long Way..." is a concept piece. It's a reaction to traditional space opera. In a "normal" sci-fi adventure, the scrappy crew of the "Wayfarer" would end up getting pulled into some kind of conflict bigger than themselves; something with universe-spanning ramifications; and would team up to defeat the enemy against overwhelming odds; regardless of the traitor in their midst... (Think Millennium Falcon, Han Solo, Lando Calrissian.)

Becky Chambers has decided to make a point of telling a different story. One where no universe-shattering events happen; one where colleagues might be annoying but not actually evil; one where secrets turn out to be pretty mundane and have no meaningful effect when revealed. One where people spend most of their time worrying about things that aren't really important and doing boring crap.

Now, I often very much enjoy stories that get "down to earth" and talk about what it's like to actually LIVE as an ordinary person in an imagined society: character-driven stories. I see other reviews of this book raving about the characterization here. I wasn't feeling it. I found the characters to be flat and stereotypical. The protagonist, Rosemary, didn't intrigue me at all. The captain is a generic "nice boss guy." Jenks is your stereotypical nerd guy. Lovey exists to show that AIs are people too. Some aliens and disabilities just to show that aliens and the disabled are people too. And let me not forget Kizzy the WACKY engineer gal who is (supposed to be) just SOOO ENDEARING! (God, I wished she was real so that I could literally strangle her.) And of course Corbin the biologist who's the cranky loner who no one really likes 'cause he likes his privacy and isn't wholly on board with the social lovefest that's life aboard the Wayfarer. (I could relate, considering - but you're not supposed to, dear readers! APPLAUD when he gets dragged into the fold and drinks the kool-aid, dammit!)

There is a scene with pirates in this book. Even the pirates are reasonable and fairly "nice." Nothing much happens. There technically IS a plot device, but it's utterly forgettable. I mean, I genuinely don't remember what it was already.

If you work in an office, or live in a shared apartment with several roommates: imagine if someone wrote daily letters to their parents about your office politics or quotidian household drama; making sure to not include anything too upsetting or serious. That's what reading this book is like. Chatty... and dull.

I initially gave it two stars, but upon consideration, after the fact, I'm downgrading it to one, because not only did I not enjoy the book; I object to it on principle. I want my gritty betrayals and world-smashing explosions, dammit!

Addendum: I see others comparing this book to both Ursula LeGuin (?!?!?) and Star Trek. For the record, I am an enthusiastic fan of both LeGuin and ST, and disagree strongly with both comparisons.
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,084 reviews17.4k followers
May 10, 2020
There's so, so much I want to say right now, and I want you all to know: this review can't do this book justice. There's no way to perfectly review one of the most complex, meditative books I've ever read.

This is not a book for those who like action-packed scifi. Rather, it's for those who enjoy meditative stories. Chambers has written far more thoughtful scifi than most authors attempt. This is such a thoughtfully built world, incorporating themes we can recognize from our own world. Nothing here is underdeveloped; there are so many details in every bit of the worldbuilding. Becky Chambers integrates stories about colonialism, war, and xenophobia into this story. I can't imagine the dedication it takes to build such an interesting, thoughtful world.

Perhaps this all sounds overwhelming, but this story stays so grounded in our human experiences that it doesn't feel too fantastical. Chambers is always careful to bring herself back to humanity.
You are capable of anything, Rosemary, good or bad.

I loved these characters so much. Rosemary is framed as the protagonist— she's a new clerk with a secret past. Sissix is the second-in-command, an affectionate reptilian life form. Kizzy is the mechanic, a spastic human disaster but definitely a funny one. Jenks is the other mechanic, far more down-to-earth despite being Kizzy's partner in crime. Lovey is the Wayfarer's lovable and funny AI. Ashby is the captain of this entire mess, a caring but tired guy who just wants his crew to be happy. There's the ironically named Dr. Chef, a caretaker whose species is going extinct. There's Ohan, a Sianat Pair, who believe themselves connected to a vast network and able to see the cosmos. And there's Corbin, a xenophobic grump with a surprisingly interesting character.

I really want to recommend this for fans of Firefly, because it's got That Vibe. The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet is about found family— a ragtag group of misfits finding a home together. Is there anyone who doesn't love that trope? There are so many great platonic relationships here; the two mechanics, Kizzy and Rosemary, and the captain and his second-in-command especially stood out in my mind. There are three good romantic relationships here, but none overtake the book. All three are between two different species, which I really appreciated.

These characters are also incredibly diverse— there are normalized gender-neutral pronouns, major nonwhite characters (not even counting the aliens), and major lgbt characters who aren't treated differently by the narrative. Lots to love!

I pretty much only had one complaint, which is incidentally the exact same as Pragya's major issue. Part of the ending seems out of place with the rest of the book. For three hundred pages, this story stays slow; definitely something to consume slowly, not in one session. But one part of the climax seems thrown in to orchestrate a sequel, which I didn't love. After so much buildup, this slightly underwhelming conclusion was disappointing.

That being said, I definitely recommend this. Can't wait to read the sequel!

BR with Pragya. I'm so excited for this!!
Also, brief shoutout to this book for orchestrating at least forty Pragya drags. You're my hero, book.
Profile Image for Charlotte May.
695 reviews1,073 followers
February 28, 2018
“Humans, we’ve got something dangerous in us. We almost destroyed ourselves because of it.”

4.5 stars ⭐️
Outstanding! I’ve officially been converted to sci fi!

Until this book I’ve never enjoyed sci fi. This has completely changed my view of sci fi and it is flipping awesome!

Some of the most imaginative world building and characterisations I’ve ever come across. The crew of the Wayfarer were amazing and I loved them all in their own way. The relationships were fantastic, both platonic and romantic, hetero and non hetero even between different species.

Chambers has created a world with so many alien species, created prejudices that are personal to each race. I was amazed at the depth in which the beliefs and cultures of each species were described. With humans now living in space, new religions have formed to add to the intermixed universe they now share.

Many of the characters come from planets and species at war, though many are now at peace, it took a long time to create this political calm.

“We cannot blame ourselves for the wars our parents start. Sometimes the very best thing we can do is walk away.”

This is a beautiful story, a team of space tunnellers given a new job. To travel to a war zone where an alliance is currently underway.

Kizzy is my absolute favourite character ever! Always with a snack, constantly saying the wrong thing, fully aware of the constant failure of romantic relationships so has zero interest in them and a super excitable child when it comes to tech!

Jenks is the best friend anyone could have. Very short but gives zero fucks, also a tech genius.

Rosemary: super sweet and great with paperwork but harbouring a secret from her past.

Sissix: the scaly pilot. The mother figure, and comes from such an interesting species.

Dr Chef: Love him! Cares for people and cooks for people. Legend.

Corbin: I grew to love Corbin by the end, despite his discriminations at the start.

Ohan: Oh bless Ohan! Deserves the best of everything - the chance to make decisions themselves.

Lovey: space’s most kind and caring AI. She totally deserves the rights of all other species.

Ashby: the greatest Captain. The father of this mixed up crew, love him!

I just love everyone so much! I need the next book now! Wow this was longer than I planned.

“All any of us can do - is to work to be something positive instead. That is a choice that every sapient must make every day of their life. The universe is what we make of it. It’s up to you to decide what part you will play.”
Profile Image for Nick Imrie.
287 reviews128 followers
October 31, 2016
I find myself in a difficult position reviewing this book. It's an astonishingly bad book, but it was recommended highly by many people whose opinions I respect. It's hard for me to know if I'm judging this book fairly on its own merits or comparing it unfavourably with the book I was expecting. I was expecting senstive, nuanced writing, good enough to be classed as literary fiction; optimistic and joyful SF in the style of Star Trek or The Martian; and maybe a little bit of adventure or mystery. Instead, I got a book that was relentlessly "Nice". And so, I feel kinda guilty when I criticise it. Look, it's badly written, badly plotted, badly paced, with terrible dialogue, poorly-sketched characters and very little actual science fiction - and yet, when I say so I feel like I'm kicking a kitten! How dare I be so mean to such a "Nice" book?

The crew of the Wayfarer are contracted to build a hyperspace tunnel, and must travel a long distance to do so. Although they are a commercial team engaged in engineering, most of the book has a very cosy domestic feel. The characters refer to themselves as a family often, and business disputes never occur and therefore can't effect their cosy relationships. As they journey, the characters visit family and friends or go shopping. Even scenes that could have been dramatic (space pirates or tyrannical border guards) are curiously flat due to their easy resolution.
It reminded me very much of 19th or early-20th century children's books in which each rather tame adventure ends with a character learning an important lesson about Doing One's Duty or The Importance of Hard Work - except here they learn about Not Judging Others or The Importance of Pacifism! In each case, turgid chunks of over-explanation are worsened by the poor quality of the writing. It's littered with annoying verbal tics that should have been removed by an editor. The most striking of these was the overuse of the word 'smirk' instead of the word 'smile', in one instance a character even 'gave a fond smirk'.

The moralism of the book is especially infuriating because it's often so shallow. Characters learn about the importance of getting along with each other - but not about truly important things. This is difficult to discuss without giving massive spoilers, so I'll try to focus on the least spoilery cases. One of the crew, Sissix, is Aandrisk: a repitilian species who lay eggs. They do not view their young as full people until they are grown and so are very cavalier about their high infant mortality rate.
She would never, ever understand the idea that a child, especially an infant, was of more value than an adult who had already gained all the skills needed to benefit the community. The death of a new hatchling was so common as to be expected. The death of a child about to feather, yes, that was sad. But a real tragedy was the loss of an adult with friends and lovers and family.

But let us consider this for a moment. The Aandrisk are a space-faring species, so it cannot be predators, parasites or disease destroying their young; they would surely have the technology to deal with these things. What else causes high infant mortality in reptiles? Neglect? Cannibalism?
This is getting pretty bleak, isn't it? It's not very nice.
So, naturally, the entire issue is completely avoided. When the crew visit Sissix home, she is very loving towards two children, who are obviously sentient beings and not half-formed half-people. The callous Aandrisk attitude to children is never seen, just referenced as one of those wacky alien differences that must be tolerated.

One of the characters in the book is a sentient AI. By any measure, the AI is a full person. She both thinks and feels. She has desires that do not necessarily align with the needs of her owners. The love story between the AI and a crew member is one of the few plot lines that had genuine consequences. Yet, legally, AI are not people. They can be deleted on a whim and are denied any rights whatsoever, and laws are in place to prevent them acheiving independence. She's an off-the-shelf model that is common on ships through-out the universe. The implication is that there are billions of AI, just like her, through-out the universe held in total, abject slavery.
That's not very nice, is it?
So, of course, this story line does not touch upon the horror of this galaxy-wide slavery at all. This plot is all about the love story - and the lesson that the characters learn from it is that perhaps they should be a bit nicer and not take the help for granted.

I said at the start of this review that 'Niceness' is no excuse for bad writing. But more than this, niceness is a frequent and cowardly excuse for avoiding difficult confrontations and important questions. Through-out this book the world-building sets up ethical dilemmas - questions concerning the definitions of personhood, the rights of robots, medical consent. And everytime, these difficult questions are overlooked in favour of a trite homily on friendship. Eventually the niceness of the crew of the Wayfarer is not heart-warming. It is not charming. It is a total failure to engage meaningfully with the universe around them. A blind preference for easy comfort over true justice.
Profile Image for Kevin Kelsey.
405 reviews2,196 followers
May 28, 2018
Posted at Heradas

I’ve never read a book quite like this. There wasn’t much of a story at all, but it was still engaging just on the strength of the characters alone. Each chapter felt like a moral-of-the-week episode in a nineties TV series. The overall arc is more about the characters and how their relationships change over time than any actual describable narrative.

That all sounds kind of negative when I read it back, but it’s not meant to be. Mostly I’m just impressed with how well it worked here, because I think something like this would be incredibly difficult to pull off.

It’s a comfort read, like a warm bowl of soup, but with fantastic world-building and great characters. This universe is very lived in, and extremely ripe for more stories in the future.
Profile Image for Lauren (Shakespeare & Whisky).
256 reviews432 followers
May 11, 2017
This was so god-damn boring.

I have taken like two weeks to read this. I cringe when I open my e-reader and it automatically loads to this novel.

I can totally understand why people would love this book and if it had even a smidge of actual dramatic tension I would have loved it.

The world building was interesting and detailed. It is not only well- thought out, it is thought-provoking.

So why two stars? There is no dramatic thru- line.

What do I mean by this? Questions, mysteries and potential dramas get introduced and are almost immediately resolved. Despite the frequent and frank acknowledgement of sex and relationships the book felt strangely sexless. Despite interesting and round characters, they have nothing interesting to say or do.

It is like the entire book was written to satisfy the author's love of world building but she forget to include an interesting plot.

Two perfect examples:

1.) The ship Wayfinder is attacked by pirates. I was excited! I wanted to know what would happen! But almost immediately the pirates agree to be reasonable, be non-violent, take only as much as they need, and leave enough food and supplies for the ship to get to a resupply station. How interested am I once the drastic tension is sucked from the scene?


I'm fucking not.

2.) Soon after another ship asks for help. The adorable mechanic agrees to go fix their ship. It is filled with bombs. OMFG. Excitement! Tension! Three seconds later… "Fixed it."


There is then like a huge discussion on why said adorable mechanic has no fear of disabling the rest of the bombs. FFS.

Anyway, I think I've proven my point. A clever, engaging world where nothing interesting is allowed to happen for longer than a paragraph.

(BTW I DNF'ed after this scene. Made it past half-way so I deserve the right to rate and review.)
Profile Image for Kaylin (The Re-Read Queen).
422 reviews1,630 followers
June 14, 2019
4.5 Stars

“All you can do, Rosemary – all any of us can do – is work to be something positive instead. That is a choice that every sapient must make every day of their life. The universe is what we make of it. It’s up to you to decide what part you will play.”

Before picking this up, I knew nothing about it—except slow-burn, found-family in space. And honestly that’s half my reading tastes in one sentence.

But what I didn’t know (and what elevated this book to ‘awesome’ status for me) is its quietly and intimately optimistic take on humanity.There are hundreds and hundreds of books that take a look at the depravity and violence of humanity. That analysis is valid... but it feels like one-half of the equation? Humanity is capable of great evil, but they are also capable of great good. Chambers doesn’t slam us over the head with it, or create an idealistic future, she simply shows us the everyday for these characters. She gently shows us their motivations and capacity for ‘evil’ and then lets us revel in them choosing the opposite.

Another thing I loved was the small-scale of these decisions. This is definitely not a high-stakes space adventure, but instead we see the characters navigate new friendships and new lands. (There's also just a ton of effortless diversity here that leads to so many different viewpoints) There’s discussion of trauma and disability and loves lost. Something about these discussions seemed so genuine, and I think these repeated-everyday decisions to love each other say more about humanity’s capacity for goodness than any single rescue or good deed so far removed from real life.

(Also I loved every single character. Kizzy and I are getting married next June, please RSVP)

It’s also just so much fun? The whole premise of building worm-holes is inventive and exciting, but also leads to a huge, vast universe filled with so many species and worlds. Each new land the crew explored was complex, interesting, and oh-so creative. This varied look at alien technology/language/species really is akin to old-school Star Trek and something I’ve always loved in sci-fi.

I do have to admit there is almost zero plot. This isn’t usually a problem for me, but the first half seemed to be going somewhere in particular… and we never really got there? Also, from her introduction it’s obvious Rosemary is hiding some secret about her past… but when it was finally revealed it felt really anticlimactic? It lead to some great discussions… it just didn’t feel worth all that build up??


This is zany, but also makes your heart ache in the good way. You can’t help but love the characters, even if they are following a plot that doesn’t really go anywhere.
Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,815 followers
March 14, 2018
I had been hearing a lot about this book from some booktubers I follow. Surprisingly, that is the only place I had heard about this – I don’t remember seeing it in my Goodreads feed when others were reading it. But, since a few people said it was their favorite book they read last year, I figured it was worth giving it a try.

Whenever I dig into a Sci-Fi or Fantasy novel, I usually find the new world a bit difficult to get into. That was honestly the case with this book as well; lots of new planets, species, technology, politics, etc. Each of these things took a bit to get used to. But, once I got used to them it was very easy to sit back and enjoy the story. So, going in, be prepared for that.

I mentioned the new world being difficult to get into and there being a lot of world building. However, in this case it was more species building than anything. This makes sense because the main focus of this story, in my opinion, is relationships and people with different backgrounds and personalities getting along. It really is a great book if you are into character focused stories.

Regarding the story, with the focus being on the characters, I feel like the story kind of took the backseat. This is not a bad thing in this case. It seems to me the author wanted us to experience the people but needed a story to put them in for motivation. I cannot imagine creating a balance with more character and less story while keeping everything moving along is an easy thing to do, but Chambers does a great job. Her focus on smaller anecdotes throughout (planet stops) really helps by adding side stories and giving specific focus on the different characters for a few pages.

Sci-Fi fans and fans of powerful character interactions/relationships should check this out. Give yourself a chance to get comfortable with the universe created by Chambers and I think you will be blown away.

Side note: With this book and the Lunar Chronicles it seems that "Stars!" is a common Sci-Fi exclamation right now. Anyone else notice that?
Profile Image for Kai Spellmeier.
Author 6 books13.6k followers
November 13, 2020
“I can wait for the galaxy outside to get a little kinder.”

First thing I have to say is: A+ cover and title choice. It had me in love the moment I first laid my eyes on this book.

To be honest, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet was not what I expected.
I imagined a romantic and action-packed plot. What I got was an incredibly detailed, imaginably crafted and super lovely space-trip. This novel was more about friendship, trust and acceptance, than anything else. I was everything but disappointed, even though my expectations weren't met.
The characters are so rich and stunning, their pasts and their history held me in awe.

Now this novel is basically one big group hug. I didn't really mind, but it made the plot easily predictable, and towards the end I would have wished for more intruige or excitement, maybe a cliffhanger or something else to spark my interest a little more.

This was a laugh-out-loud read, the giggles I spent on this book weren't wasted. Looking forward to the sequel.

Find more of my books on Instagram
Profile Image for April (Aprilius Maximus).
1,092 reviews6,579 followers
July 3, 2019
1.) The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet ★★★★★
2.) A Closed and Common Orbit ★★★★.5
3.) Record Of A Spaceborn Few ★★


Profile Image for Riley.
427 reviews21.1k followers
November 27, 2018
This book was definitely unlike anything I have ever read before.
It is a sci-fi about the crew on a spaceship called The Wayfarer. But don't go into this book expecting an action-packed space adventure. This is a completely character driven book that explores gender, sexuality, race and politics in the most beautiful way.
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.7k followers
January 22, 2020
2.5 stars. Unpopular opinion time! The first of my two DNFs in the last few weeks. This breezy adventure about a motley crew in an old spaceship was just okay for me. It never captured my imagination, and I ended up putting it down about halfway through and just never picking it back up again.

If diversity and acceptance are deeply important to you, this might be a great read for you. Everybody on the crew of the Wayfarer is diverse (mostly in a space alien but also in a sexuality kind of way) but accepting and loving (well, mostly), conflicts are resolved, love is found, and so on. But other than that diversity-positive element, the plot didn't strike me as anything new or unusual in SF, and diversity and social justice by themselves aren't enough to keep me engaged in an otherwise bland book.
Profile Image for J.L.   Sutton.
666 reviews864 followers
May 10, 2022
"The universe is what we make of it. It’s up to you to decide what part you will play.”

Becky Chambers Books - Home | Facebook

Becky Chambers' The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is an absolutely enjoyable read! There's so much to say about it (my book club had a great discussion of the book over a few beers last night), but I'm just going to focus on a few things that were brought up. First, what makes this so special is its cast of characters. The book is not story-driven at all. Chambers could have added or subtracted a couple of chapters without affecting where this was going. In our discussion, the characters and specifically the ensemble were referred to over and over again as the stars (and compared to Firefly, Babylon 5, and Battlestar Galactica).

Secondly, we talked about how well Chambers handled gender fluidity and interspecies romance. We gave a nod to ...TNG, but found it refreshing that there was not an alpha-male captain who was the focus of this romance. The take on AIs was also interesting. In addition to just lots and lots of people, I think readers who enjoyed Ann Leckie's Imperial Radsch series will like the unique points of view that Chambers offers. Great read! 4.5 stars.
Profile Image for ✨    jami   ✨.
660 reviews3,880 followers
April 8, 2017
There was a nebula there, an explosion of dust and light, the fiery corpse of an ancient giant. Within the gaseous folds slept clusters of unborn stars, shining softly.
She took an inventory of her body. She felt her breath, her blood, the ties binding it all together. Every piece, down to the last atom had been made out here, flung through the open in a moment of violence, until they swirled round and round, churning and coalescing, becoming heavy, weighing each other down.

But not any more, the pieces were floating free now. They had returned home. She was exactly where she was supposed to be

THIS BOOK this stunning, beautiful, complex piece of sci-fi. I love you. I love you and you have me so shook. THIS is what my universe looks like, THIS is what I see when I imagine what the universe which if filled with over 60 tillion planets could look like, this is the voice and the direction I yearn to see more science fiction taking

THIS IS SPACE like you've never seen it before

There's no doubt The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is absurdly charming. I mean, just that title is bizarre, yet delightful. This whole book is like that. It's ODD, maybe a bit much for some people, but oh my god it's delightful.

Becky Chambers creates a space story that's unlike any I've read before. The sheer magnitude and complexity of the universe system, and the species that fill it is outstanding on it's own. This is a truly creative and breathtaking novel -- and one which looks at our world today and offers a universe where all we see WORKS, or at least tries to. This is an incredibly progressive book and I love it

I realise I am rambling
Oh god there's just so much to say

Maybe I should start with what it's about. It's the future. Humans fucked up. Earth is dead, we had to leave. We enter space, live on Mars .... aliens are so fucking real.

The planet is filled with them .. all different species. There's one's with scales and feathers, some that communicate through swirling colours on their cheeks, some that come in pairs and are non-binary. There's aliens that start as female and become males. There's aliens with power, aliens without power, aliens who's species are going extinct, aliens who are warring with themselves.

And humans are a blip. Just another species, a new member to the Galactic Commons (Kind of a space European Union)

But this book isn't about humans - talking about humans, how very speciescentric of me

This is about a ship. It's about a group of friends, lovers, enemies. This is about the crew aboard the Wayfarer, a multi-species tunneling ship who's job it is is to create wormholes in space that essentially act as space highways.

The crew of the Wayfarer: You got your humans, Rosemary, Kizzy, Jenks, Corbin and Ashby. You got an Aandrisk, Sissix, A Grum, Dr Chef. And a Sianiat, Ohan. And their AI, Lovey.
This crew is hired to create a new tunnel to the new members of the GC, the Toremi.

But it's not even about that. It's about all the stuff in the middle, about what happens on the long way to that small, angry planet. And it's amazing, it's incredible. It's complex. It's actually such a joyous read.

HONESTLY, this review is sucking.
So here's what I'm gonna do

This book is underrated, and it's amazing.
And I think everyone needs to read it, because it's so fucking clever.
So here is


1: The title is a fucking delight. Like, I know thats maybe not gonna instantly sell you on the book but seriously the title is so good and I love it. It's absurdly catchy.

2: The cover is pretty (don't even TELL ME you've never judged books by their covers smhhh)

3: The world building is detailed and complex. Do not think this book is simple, it is not. The universe is expansive, and it's features so many different species of aliens. All with their own cultures, behaviours, politics, and features. These are aliens who's beliefs so fundamentally challenged mine as a human, and not only that THE FACT EVERYONE IS SO DIFFERENT IS SO OFTEN ADDRESSED. This is a system where aliens actively try to understand and comprehend eachother, but often end up doing things that are insensitive on accident. This is a universe where things are not the binary ideas us humans cling to. There are aliens who have no gender and so use they/them pronouns !! there are aliens who are cold-blooded !! there are aliens who cannot speak !! there are aliens who lay eggs !! there are aliens who have multiple family systems and aliens who suffer from specific alien viruses and aliens of all different shape, colour, type, culture. It's amazing, and the intricate way the humans/aliens try to relate to eachother, and be compassionate of eachother despite fundamental differences in their morality/beliefs/culture is amazing.

4: It's a new take on science fiction. This book felt really new to me in a genre that's been written in ALOT. For a start, its got a distinctly feminine voice. Men dominate science fiction, and having a book that felt feminine, that felt a little more empathetic (?) in some ways then science fiction which is often straightforward and factual was refreshing. I loved that. I also loved the complexity of the aliens (Because I hate that in alot of sci-fi aliens are like humans). Overrall, it just felt new. It's felt refreshing.

5: It's accessible to non-sci fi readers If you don't read Sci-fi alot, I think you can still really really like this. It also does away with the complex terminology and space mumbo jumbo that often pervades science fiction and instead is just about people - who happen to be in space. And while it's still got many sci-fi elements, it's not cold or withdrawn like some sci-fi. This lets you get involved, lets you immerse yourselves in the characters lives and in their world and feels much more friendly and welcoming then some science fiction on the market.

6: It is incredibly diverse. The aliens aside, it features LGBT+ and non-binary characters, an lgbt couple, as well as people of varying race/culture and religion. It includes a main character with dwarfism (which does not dominate his character) and all these issues are ..... well they're not issues. That's the amazing thing. These are not stories ABOUT people being gay or having physical disabilities. These are just characters, and some of them happen to be gay ect and it's okay. It's all okay, and it's amazing. I also love, like LOVE the humans didn't speak English. I love that it's moved beyond thinking of our world so narrowly and has so incredibly expanded the horizons. I love that some of the aliens use xe pronouns, or some don't have any gender, some change gender to male or female or neither. I love that even amongst humans there are different pieces of history that have effected human nature and that the diversity is treated so complexly it's honestly mindblowing and you need to read it to understand

7: It's character driven This may be a turning away point for some people, but if you, like me, love stories which revolve around characters you'll love this. This is very much about the crew on board the ship, and develops them and their relationships thoroughly. It's also just about people in general trying to understand and relate to each other, and if you're a fan of that I PROMISE YOU WILL LOVE THIS. The characters are incredibly well constructed, and I genuinely fell in love with every single one. They are all different, and all multi-layered people but each is so special and I love them all. Every character was incredibly well constructed right down to their fears, beliefs and morality being incorporated into the book and they drove this story amazingly. It also focusses on so many different types of relationships, found families, platonic and romantic relationships, between different species, between humans and AI's. Between all sorts. It's the best. Incredible female characters !! Including female mechanics (don't see often !!) and just kick ass girls in general. Also the male characters are great friends and lovers (some of them) but are not tropey and gross and I just LOVE the characters so much

8: AI THAT MAKES YOU FEEL. In this world, AI are a big deal and there are full committee's dedicated to AI rights. And the AI in this is so ... so lovely and will tear your heart out

9: It's progressive, thoughtful, and offers a little bit of a metaphor for our world now. This world, this beautiful universe where people attempt really hard to understand despite obvious differences could be us. It looks at alot of social issues and implements them into the world in a positive way. It also touches up on some ways we can be more tolerant. For example, I loved how Rosemary is always reminding herself to be less "human-centric" (ie. judge other cultures by human standards). I thought it was a good metaphor for trying not to be eurocentric. I love that this world offers legitimiate solutions and ideas as to how we can overcome cultural barriers to make living and working alongside people we may not understand completely easier, and it's a book which preaches so much respect and love of neighbour. It's also a bit philosophical and thoughtful, looks alot into human nature and the human condition, and some of the things we do as people which are kind of crazy.

10: It's a bit of fun Despite everything, it's an incredibly fun book. A wild ride through unfamiliar space, with a crew thats both wacky and wonderful. The characters are insane, and some of the things they do are just odd. Meeting the new species, experiencing cultures which are crazily bizarre is fun, and getting to picture and imagine all these new species with their outlandish appearances and behaviours was honestly a bit of an imagination workout -- which I LOVE. It's just a feel good book, in a feel good world where everything seems a little less bad and so it was nice to inhibit for a while.

A BOOK FOR FANS OF: Illuminae (for alot of reasons), The Raven Cycle (if you like how it's abt characters you'll like this too), Enders Game, Star Wars, and dozens of others.
I really think this is a book alot of people could enjoy.

“All you can do, Rosemary – all any of us can do – is work to be something positive instead. That is a choice that every sapient must make every day of their life. The universe is what we make of it. It’s up to you to decide what part you will play.”


Profile Image for Cecily.
1,116 reviews3,957 followers
April 8, 2022
This is very modern sci-fi. Not cutting-edge science (you don’t need to know any), but the social science. There’s a warm inclusiveness: it should appeal to sci-fi fans and beyond.

The Wayfarer is a hyperspace tunnelling ship with a small multi-species crew. Corbin is described as “a complete asshole” from the off, but the rest are super-nice. Darker themes are always external: the backstories of some, Galactic Commons politics, and the physical intrusion of pirates and police.

The mission is to create a particularly difficult and important hyperspace short-cut to:
A cracking scab of a planet… A small angry planet, surrounded by the warships of people who wanted to control it.
There’s no mention of a Beware of the leopard sign. 😉

The chapters are fairly self-contained, there’s occasionally clunky backstory and explanation, a loose narrative arc, and an anticlimactic ending that was nevertheless apt. I really enjoyed it.

The characters, their relationships, and the worldbuilding are what engaged, engrossed, and enraptured me. It’s full of original, surprising, and often delightful details. It’s a very human [insert non-speciesist alternative] story.

Image: The Wayfarer Crew by Elsa Varland/ArtStation (Source)

Life in space

Everyone needs a sense of home, even in a temporary one. This story opens with the evocative “sounds of a spacer life”: clicks, hums, and static crackle. Such incidental details portray life on the Wayfarer with a relatable domestic realism rarely seen in sci-fi. There are pretty curtains, restorative tea, the odd stimulant, board games, a contemplative garden, and good food is essential to wider wellbeing (hence the endearing Dr Chef). Ashby is a caring captain, conscious of his crew’s health and mental health. Intimate relationships (platonic and not) are accepted on board - though guns are not.


The galaxy’s sapient species could find many cultural commonalities, but few topics were quite as contentious as the proper way to get clean.

Sci-fi is often necessarily and literally diverse, but rarely so positively, while also managing not to be preachy or sentimental. The Wayfarer’s crew comprises humans of implied varied ethnicity, others of very different species, and an AI. They meet other species along the way.

The story is told from the viewpoint of Rosemary, a new clerk on the ship. She’s a gifted linguist and she consciously strives to avoid speciesist and cultural bias - but not in an annoying, performative way. Chambers describes exotic bodies and customs: from the trivial to the profound, and from the unattractive to the mildly comedic. (If she was describing human races, rather than fictional sentients, I guess she might be accused of white gaze and othering.)

Radically different body shapes and parts require radically different adaptations. Jenks may be human, but he has a type of dwarfism, and Sissix has a tail, so they need different chairs. Clothing customs differ beyond mere body shape, so compromise is needed for mutual comfort and respect. I kept thinking of memes like this:

Image: How would a centaur wear pants (AmE), aka trousers (BrE) (Source)

Dr Chef has to cater for serious but niche allergies, as well as a huge range of food preferences, without frequent or regular access to markets. Medical needs vary, including the discomfort of things like moulting scales. Some species are very tactile and demonstrative, but others are not. Inter-species coupling is generally accepted (fortunately, the mechanics are not mentioned!), but taboo for some. Kizzy has two dads back home and it’s too ordinary for explanation or comment. And for the multiple-limbed Grum like Dr Chef, “biological sex is a transitional state”: they’re mostly female, except to reproduce (see Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness, which I reviewed HERE).

Hatch, feather, and house families

We tend to think about coupling the same way that… you [humans] think about good food. It’s something you always look forward to, and it’s something everybody needs and enjoys. At the low end of the scale, it’s comforting. At the high end, it’s transcendent. And like eating a meal, it’s something you can do in public, with friends or with strangers. But even so, it’s best when you share it with someone you care about romantically.

Sissix is beautiful in person and body, and would be described as reptilian, were that not offensive. Her society sounds alien, and even heartless, to those used to a nuclear family. However, it’s like many intentional communities, especially queer ones, but perhaps with more sex. Rosemary comes to understand it’s different but not lesser. Aandrisks start in a “hatch family” of eggs laid at a similar time; it’s fixed and detached. When they get their feathers, they choose a “feather family” of friends and lovers and emotional support; it’s flexible, and most move through several. A “house family” raises children (rarely their own).
I’ll never understand how the rest of you expect brand new adults to be able to teach kids how to be people.

Rosemary’s contemplations about Aandrisk families, reappraising boundaries and consent, are suddenly followed by a Quelin enforcer boarding the Wayfarer and removing one of the crew, just because “He exists”.

Consciousness and consent

Respect and equality for sentient life is fundamental. People, in the broadest sense, should have agency over their lives. Who would disagree with that?

What about AI, though? Lovey’s (short for Lovelace) personality evolves as she interacts with the crew. But can she really experience love - given and received - when she’s just a lot of ones and zeros who could be rebooted or switched off like HAL in 2001? Do you need a body to be?

Image: Mug with checkboxes including to confirm if you’re an AI, or prepared to convert

Implants and body mods are common and sometimes essential, but there are still ethical issues. What can minors consent to? And like cosmetic surgery, does the desire come from self-love or an inferiority complex born of societal pressure?
It’s about orchestrating a balance between the synthetic and the organic.

Consent is also a key plot point for two characters facing life or death situations.

Non-verbal language

A menagerie of sapients speaking in a dizzying array of languages.
Port Coriol is vividly diverse and wonderfully conjured. It happily reminded me of the cantina scene in the first Star Wars film, along with its catchy tune. But Chambers’ ideas of different sorts of language fascinated me: they were so far from what we think of as language. A more extreme conceptual challenge than when I learned some Mandarin. I knew that, having grown up with non-tonal languages, that aspect would be difficult. What came as a pleasant surprise was that the grammar was very regular. It was utterly different from learning a European language.

For example, Aeluons lack natural hearing and thus speech. They communicate with others via a talkbox, but:
"Among themselves, they communicated through color - specifically, Iridescent patches on their cheeks that shimmered and shifted like the skin of a bubble."

Image: Iridescent bubbles (Source)
Isn’t that wonderful? It’s up there with Douglas Adams' Hooloovoo.

Aandrisks use handspeech for emotions, and vocalise everything else, but often use the two simultaneously. A sort of ambidextrous bilingualism.

Back in 2014, Chambers used they/them pronouns for a character, but for a typically creative reason, which lets her demonstrate how straightforward it should be. Ohan has a norovirus for multidimensional navigation which also makes him a Sianat Pair: two consciousnesses in one body. (For more about the grammar and usage in a general context, see my review of A Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns, HERE.)


At times, it felt a little too self-consciously idealistic for me. Events and revelations that could have been controversial, or even catastrophic, barely raised an eyebrow because everyone is so utterly nice, caring, and open-minded. Having a little conflict to resolve would have been more interesting and plausible. The nearest it came was when one character was the only hope to save someone they really disliked. It needed more of that, imo.


• “War was nothing more than a story to him, something that happened to people he didn't know in places he'd never been to.”

• “A flock of unmanned skimmer drones sailed as close as they could safely get to the event horizon, just on the edge of gravity’s embrace. They drifted through the swirling silt, and to the ordinary observer, they would appear to be doing nothing but drawing dust trails with their comb-like arms.”

• “Her eyes blank with reason.”

• “The people we remember are the ones who decided how our maps should be drawn. Nobody remembers who built the roads.” [Living in an island nation, that still uses the routes of some Roman roads, that rings less true than to US readers.]

• “His silence sounded baffled.”

See also

• For a lively, quirky, and intelligent discussion by four passionate fans, listen to the Teachmycat2read podcast episode, but it does have some spoilers. There are links on their spoiler-free GR review, HERE. And if you enjoy that, there’s a new episode, with a new book, every fortnight.

• This is excellent for a first novel, originally self-published, and I plan to read the other two Wayfarer novels this year. However, I preferred her more recent standalone, To be Taught, If Fortunate, which I reviewed HERE.
Profile Image for Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥.
530 reviews34.5k followers
February 28, 2023
I’m on BookTube now! =)

”All you can do, Rosemary – all any of us can do – is work to be something positive instead. That is a choice that every sapient must make every day of their life. The universe is what we make of it. It’s up to you to decide what part you will play. And what I see in you is a woman who has a clear idea of what she wants to be.”

Picture yourself in winter, it’s cold outside and little snowflakes are falling down to the ground, you don’t want to go outside because it’s way nicer at home and you take your biggest and warmest blanket to make yourself a human burrito. Maybe there’s a fresh cup of tea or coffee right next to you and you don’t even want to move an inch. Well, do it, but only to pick up “The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet” and then just snuggle back into your warm nest. XD Why did I give you this visual? Because this is the perfect story for cold winter days like the one I just described. This book is slow-paced, it’s cosy and full of love and has an amazing found family trope. It’s not very action packed but that’s okay, because if you want to read this book you’re looking for comfort sci-fi and “The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet” certainly delivers on that front.

”I don’t know. Maybe it’s just different for us. We’re different species, after all.” She paused. “Or maybe because I never thought to ask anyone what you’re asking. I never thought of fear as something that can go away. It just is. It reminds me that I want to stay alive. That doesn't strike me as a bad thing."

I really loved to get to know all the different members of the crew and the species they interact with. Also to hear about the cities and planets they went to was extremely interesting. Well, at least for me it was. I’m both, a Warsie as well as a Trekkie and to read about all those aliens, how they look like, what their culture is like and how they communicate with each other had me glued to the pages. I gotta give it to Becky Chambers, her imagination is amazing. To think of so many alien species and to make them come alive is a true talent and Becky obviously has it. No matter if it were the Toremi, Sianat, Grum, Aandrisk or Aeluons, the way they came to life in my imagination was truly awesome. Of course there were humans too and the majority of the Wayfarer, the ship on which the story takes place, is actually human.

”As they did so, they thought of the concept of purpose. Dr Chef’s purpose was to heal and nourish. Ashby’s purpose was to bind his crew together. Accepting the Wane ran contrary to those purposes. For them, accepting the death of a crew member was difficult. Ohan hoped they knew how much the effort was appreciated.”

Which brings me right to the members of the crew that all have their own troubles and personal problems, but still stick together and get through everything like only family can do. No matter how different they are – and they are very different, not only optically but also personality-wise – they always find a way to communicate and to solve their differences. I tried to find out who my favourite crew member would be but quite honestly I can’t decide. They were all great in their own way and the only reason I didn’t feel as close to Ohan or Corbin was the mere fact that their characters were written that way. Corbin is a grumpy algaeist that mostly sticks to his lab and Ohan is a Sianat Pair and goes by they/them pronouns because he’s sharing a body with a parasite. Yeah, I know alone this is kinda mind-blowing and don’t even get me started on how they look like, because my brain still has difficulties to wrap itself around that description. I guess the same can be said for Sissix the Aandrisk which I always kinda imagined like a crocodile or dinosaur with feathers and Dr Chef the cook and doctor of the crew whose looks are so beyond my imagination that I can’t even fathom his appearance. *lol*

”No one else was hurt. The ambi, the food, none of that mattered. They were things, and things could be replaced. His crew couldn’t be. The relief he’d felt upon learning he was the only one who’d wound up in the med bay topped anything that the painkillers could give.”

The humans on the ship are at least as interesting as the aliens, though and I really liked Rosemary, Kizzy and Jenks! I swear the friendship between them was amazing and Ashby Santoso as their captain. Seriously! I loved Ashby! That man is amazing and watches out for every single member of his crew. I’m not surprised he went for a relationship with a woman from another species, because that man doesn’t have a single malicious bone in his entire body and is the most open-minded, tolerant and nourishing person ever. I’m not surprised he considered Sissix to be his best friend, because those two worked so well together. And this is one of the best parts of this book, the friendships and relationships between the crew members. During the book we get an inter-species relationship of two women, Ashby himself is with an alien woman, Jenks is in love with the AI and Ohan is going by they/them pronouns so wow, talk about diversity and inclusion! XD I swear, the relationship between Jenks and Lovey was the sweetest thing and I totally shipped them together. Ahh who would have thought that a human and an AI would work so well together?! <3

"The date on that directory. That's the day I installed you.
Because I've loved you since then."

My heart!!! T_T But that’s not all, as I said the friendships are very special as well and Kizzy and Jenks were the most wholesome found family besties you could wish for. The way they understood each other and supported each other in difficult situations was giving me all the bitter-sweet and comfy feels and I really want to read more about them and see them all happy.

”I was a happy kid, and I couldn’t ask for better parents. But I was still jealous of the kids who had siblings. I grew up, and then you came along.” She looked up at him, and smiled. “And for the first time ever, I didn’t want a brother any more, because I finally had one.”

Unfortunately I don’t know if happiness is something they’ll be able to experience after the ending of the first book. Yes, I know I said that this is mostly a slow-paced and calm book at the beginning of my review, but it still has its suspenseful moments and there were some scenes that hit hard and changed those characters in ways they never would have been able to anticipate. Cryptic much? Well, yeah, but you have to deal with it because I won’t spoil anything. What I can say is that this book is legit about a crew on a space ship that makes tunnels to get to other planets, so of course there is some action going to happen along the way. To make worm-holes can be a dangerous business and since you’re playing with the space-time continuum there is always the possibility that things can go sideways. Or that the shit will hit the fan, especially when you don’t know if the alien species that just joined your alliance is actually friendly towards their new allies.


I never anticipated that I’d enjoy this story so much but the slow-pacing and focus on the different characters, their interactions and their relationships totally persuaded me and I ultimately ended up loving this book. To read about different planets and aliens, to get to know their culture and to find out how they think and feel, it was amazing! It’s kinda weird to say that this was comforting, because usually “comforting” isn’t the first word I think about when it comes to sci-fi, but it’s honestly the only one I can come up with when I think about “The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet”. Becky Chambers created a sci-fi world that is weirdly comforting and I don’t know about you, but I will take it. Sci-fi comfort reads, apparently that’s my new thing. ;-)


This was really good and my inner Warsie/Trekkie (yes, I’m both) was very happy to get to know this sci-fi world. The pacing of the book was very slow but it was an extremely comforting read with interesting characters and a great found family trope.

Full RTC soon. As always I need to sleep on it. XD

Just in case you didn’t know that: I am a sucker for the found-family-trope and I’ve been told that “The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet” has one of the best ones out there!
Also there are queer characters in this book and it plays in space. So what’s not to love?
I’m really looking forward to read this!

Did any of you read this series already? =)

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