“The only way to really appreciate your way is to compare it to somebody else’s way. Figure out what you love, specifically. In detail. Figure out what you want to keep. Figure out what you want to change. Otherwise, it’s not love. It’s clinging to the familiar–to the comfortable–and that’s a dangerous thing for us short-term thinkers to do. If you stay, stay because you want to, because you’ve found something here worth embodying, because you believe in it. Otherwise…well, there’s no point in being here at all, is there?”
Science fiction is always very hit and miss for me – sometimes it’s too technical, sometimes it misses the character-driven aspects of fiction that I love. Then I discovered Becky Chambers’ Wayfarers series and I fell in love with the quiet plots, fascinating character stories and the cultures of entirely new imaginary species that are so detailed they could be real.
There are 3 books to date in the series, with a fourth to arrive in 2021. They can be read in any order, but I chose to read in order of publication. The first is The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, which I have now read twice. It focuses on Rosemary, a young girl who is looking to escape her past by joining a long-haul spaceship where the crew is made up of multiple species. The second is A Closed and Common Orbit, which takes the AI from book one, Lovelace, and puts her in a body kit. Lovelace becomes Sidra, and the book centres on her friendship with Pepper, whose past is explored alongside the main plot. The Third book is a Record of a Spaceborn Few, which may have my favourite quote ever written in it. It follows a group of humans born in Space who live on Fleet – a very large space platform that houses the descendants of humans that left Earth behind. The characters are at different stages of their lives – a mix of parents and children.
What I love about Becky Chambers is the diversity she brings to her characters, whether through culture, gender or sexuality. It is so interesting to read about the cultures and worlds she creates because they are incredibly detailed and unique, without being over-complicated. The plot in each book is quiet which allows the character journeys to shine.
These books have made me laugh and cry and I empathised with many of the characters – particularly Rosemary from The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet and Kip from Record of a Spaceborn Few. Everyone feels a bit lost at times and Becky captures that emotion beautifully. They also have beautiful covers. I highly recommend reading them, and I can’t wait to read Becky’s novella: To Be Taught if Fortunate.
Let me know if you loved these books just as much as I did!