The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet is Becky Chambers’ debut novel. It’s getting great reviews online and, as I don’t read much science fiction, I really wanted to try it. At the beginning, we meet Rosemary who, it transpires, has changed her identity for reasons unknown and is starting a new job as a clerk on a drilling ship, The Wayfarer. OK, I thought to myself, we will now spend the rest of the book watching Rosemary frantically try to protect her new identity so whatever terrible secret she’s hiding isn’t revealed in the ensuing space adventures. Well, I was wrong – instead we get a more measured, character-driven piece with much less emphasis on action than I was expecting.
There is an intriguing cast of characters from many alien races, all of whom have become a family on The Wayfarer. At the helm is Captain Ashby who thinks all of his Christmases have come at once when he wins a lucrative contract to drill a wormhole at the far reaches of space. At first I sped through the character descriptions as I thought they were just a preliminary to the action to follow but I gradually realised that getting to know these fully realised characters was at the heart of the book and found myself going back to these pages so that I could fully visualise them. The world building is impressive and I was reminded more than once of the ‘Verse created by Joss Whedon in his tragically short-lived tv series, Firefly. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will definitely be reserving Becky’s next book.
You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.