A Closed And Common Orbit by Becky Chambers

Title: A Closed And Common Orbit
Series: Wayfarers, #2
Author: Becky Chambers
Publication date: 2016

Date started: 27/10/2018
Date finished: 10/11/2018

First sentence: “Lovelace had been in a body for twenty-eight minutes, and it still felt every bit as wrong as it had the second she woke up inside it.”
Last sentence: “‘That’s from me,’ Owl said. ‘I’m proud of you, too.’”
Favorite sentence: “So, tattooing . . . you’ve got a picture in your mind, then you put it on your body. You make a hazy imagining into a tangible part of you. Or, to flip it around, you want a reminder of something, so you put it on your body, where it’s a real, touchable thing. You see the thing on your body, you remember it in your mind, then you touch it on your body, you remember why you got it, what you were feeling then, and so on, and so on. It’s a re-enforcing circle. You’re reminded that all these separate pieces are part of the whole that comprises you.”

Summary (spoilers): Pepper left the Wayfarer with the AI Lovelace in her brand new body kit. Her kit feels off, her existence is illegal, and her programming is not allowing her to lie or to disobey a direct command – not a great start. Pepper brings her home where Blue, Pepper’s best friend, also lives, and she starts to work in Pepper’s scrap shop. Because she was made to be housed in a ship with cameras everywhere and a constant connection to the Linkings, Lovelace – who is now named Sidra – is in a constant state of dysphoria and hates her situation. During a party, she meets an Aeluon tattoo artist, Tak, who soon becomes a friend, but when she’s trying to get a tattoo she gets a bug and they discovers she’s an AI. They’re having a hard time with the revelation at first, but soon accept her for who she is and their friendship gets stronger from it. Sidra also learns coding and, with the help of Tak, alters her programming to be able to lie and disobey orders. In the meantime we learn about Pepper’s past: she was a genetically modified child created to work in a factory, and when she escaped she was saved by Owl, a space shuttle’s AI who raised her into young adulthood while Pepper (then Jane) was repairing the ship. Before escaping her planet, she met Blue and they left together. When their shuttle were rescued they were safe but the shuttle, and Owl, were lost… Pepper has been looking for it ever since, and when she gets a message that her shuttle was found in a museum, they all create a scheme to save Owl, and it works! Sidra opens her own bar, Owl is hosted in the bar’s infrastructure, and Sidra has several systems in place to lighten her dysphoria, such as many pet-cameras and large memory banks!

Opinion: This book was really, really mind blowing! I already loved the first opus of the Wayfarer series, but this one was even better?? The writing was amazing, the way Chambers described the AI’s life, from her disconnect from her body to the way she thought, was amazing. For instance, Sidra would refer to her memories as files, and she had to refer as those files for even the simplest behaviors. Sidra was also struggling with the fact that her memory was finite, and that she would have to start deleting some memories at some point. This showed that, once again, Chambers really thought her world building and her characters in depth, and in a way that really brought them to life. Pepper’s story was fascinating as well, the struggles of this little kid giving me so much emotions, from pain and fear to excitement and joy when she managed something. This book brought me to tears so many times. I love androids, so Sidra’s story really talked to me a lot. Not so much space porn as the first opus, but so much tech porn in this one! When I first realized that this book wouldn’t follow the Wayfarer’s crew I was a bit sad, but it’s such a clever thing to continue the story of other characters, especially when it ends up being so good! This is definitely one of my favorite books, ever.

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