The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers was published in 2015. Becky Chambers is an American author who has also lived in Scotland and Iceland but is now back living in the US. I’m not counting her as a Scottish author for the reading challenge though.
I first read of this book after Stefanie @ So Many Books wrote about it, you can read what she thought here. I read SF from time to time so I thought I would give this one a ago.
Anyway, there are quite a lot of different types of SF and I would say this book comes under the category of space opera, not a type I’ve ever read before but it was a good read despite being what I think of as a really old fashioned form of SF such as Star Trek or Blake’s Seven.
I’ve often written that I haven’t enjoyed a book just because there were no likeable characters in it, I prefer to spend my free time with people whose company I enjoy, and there were plenty of characters in this book to like. The Wayfarer is ‘peopled’ by various different sorts of aliens and the on board computer Lovey has developed into much more, she has a personality and in fact one of the crew members has fallen in love with her. As you would expect from different species being thrown together into close confinement there are tensions, especially as Corbin – a human – is of the grumpy male variety.
The Wayfarer is a patchwork spaceship that has been cobbled together from bits and pieces, no sleek streamlined vessel here. Rosemary Harper is the newest crew member, there’s a bit of a mystery about her, but as far as Ashby the easy going captain of the ship is concerned she is vital because she is a clerk and will put all of his files into good order. It’s important to his bosses that he pays more attention to such things.
The Wayfarer is a tunnelling ship and they have got a contract to punch a hole in space to build a hyperspace tunnel in a distant planet, travelling through a dangerous area where wars have been going on. The contract is worth a huge amount of money and Ashby trusts that it must be safe enough as surely they wouldn’t be sent into danger.
This is a very moral tale, similar to The Wizard of Oz or Toy Story where various species learn to get along and respect each other and Ashby ends up wondering if it is morally acceptable for them to be taking on the type of work entailed in the contract. Think of all the people who put themselves in danger taking on contracts in the Middle East and elsewhere and it’s easy to see where Chambers got her idea.
There are big moral questions involved but this is done in a very light-hearted way. It’s an enjoyable read.
The blurb on the front says: A quietly profound, humane tour de force’ Guardian.