The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

Title: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet
Series: Wayfarers, #1
Author: Becky Chambers
Publication date: 2014

Date started: 15/08/2018
Date finished: 18/10/2018

First sentence: “As she woke up in the pod, she remembered three things.”
Last sentence: “She was exactly where she was supposed to be.”
Favorite sentence: “Another pause. ‘Veshkrisk. Noun. A person on a journey. Traveler. Wanderer.’ Wayfarer.”

Summary: Rosemary Harper is starting her new job on the Wayfarer spaceship, and she’s anxious not only because it’s the first time she’s leaving her home planet Mars, but also because she bribed a government official into changing her identity. Her very wealthy father was revealed to make and sell dangerous weapons (coded to target specific genetic codes), and she decided to escape the scandal and the shame. The ship’s crew is very welcoming: Ashby Santoso the human captain; Jenks and Kizzy Shao the punkish human techs, Sissix the cool Aandrisk (reptile-like) pilot, Dr Chef the Grum cook and doctor, Lovey the AI, and then the less welcoming Artis Corbin the short-tempered algae specialist and Ohan the reserved Sianat Pair navigator. The Wayfarer’s mission is to create tunnels in space, artificial wormholes linking two faraway places together. The crew gets an amazing job offer: traveling to the core of the galaxy (which will take about a year) to create a tunnel between the Toremi Ka, a clan from a mysterious species which just joined the Galactic Commons, and the GC’s space. They prepare for the long trip: Ashby sees his secret Aeluon lover Pei one last time, and Jenks decides to order a body kit for Lovey (it’s illegal, but they’re in love). Soon after they started their long journey, they are attacked and boarded by some Akarak; nobody’s hurt but they have to go see some of Kizzy’s friends on Cricket to repair the damage. On the planet, the news of Rosemary’s father’s trial is playing on TV and she decides to come clean with the crew – who takes it surprisingly well. Rosemary learns a lot about Chef’s species history (they killed each other until the species died), Sissix’s species (adults lay eggs and give them to elders to raise, and biological mothers and children do not feel related at all; also Aandrisk are very promiscuous and often have large ‘feather‘ polyamorous families), and Ohan’s species (they form a Pair with a virus who gives them great abilities but kills them after about 30 years; they meet Sianats who took a cure, kept the abilities and lived for centuries, but Ohan refuses the “blasphemous” cure), and even Corbin (turns out he was a clone without knowing it, his father is taken to prison and he is bound to Sissix – they despise each other – for the time his application to become a GC citizen will take). Rosemary starts a relationship with Sissix, and it looks like it’s making them both happy. When they finally arrive to the core, they’re about to start drilling the tunnel when they are attacked by a rogue Toremi Ka ship! Their ship tumbles through space half broken, and when they finally resurface Lovey is too damaged and a hard reset wipes her out – Jenks is heartbroken. They get a new AI, the wiped Lovelace AI goes to the body kit Jenks ordered and leaves with their tech friend Pepper. Corbin, who has been way more civil since the whole clone discovery, decides to inject the cure to Ohan by force – after his recovery, Ohan seems way more sociable and decides to have diner with the crew (oh and also to stay with them on the ship of course)! The GC breaks their alliance with the Toremi Ka. Sissix takes Rosemary for her first space walk, and Rosemary feels truly at home in space.

Opinion: This book was just… amazing! I love scifi, but here the characters were so rich, we got so much character development, and this world building! Well, we don’t see much of the world per se, but I mean the species, they’ve really been thought through, all with different appearances, languages, cultures, it was really beautiful to discover them all! And so much space porn! You can tell the author has some space scientists in her family. Oh, and it was so queer! It’s very rare to have a good scifi novel that has gay elements in it, but here the author used neutral pronouns like it’s nothing, there’s a lot of same sex couples mentioned (some even among the main characters), and a lot of species have some gender neutral elements! The balance between the main story and the side stories helping character development is perfect and seamless. As soon as I finished this book, I got up and ordered the second volume from my local bookshop!

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