The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. ★★★★
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is a delightful stand alone science fiction novel. Reading it was like wrapping myself in a warm, fluffy blanket on a cold day. Focusing on the nine member crew of the Wayfarer, this episodic book is character based story you won’t want to miss.
The Wayfarer is a small, privately owned ship used to make tunnels through space. Once these tunnels are completed, ships can jump through the wormholes from one point to another. On the face of it, this book is about when the crew of the Wayfarer takes a job making a tunnel to a distant planet inhabited by an unfathomable and hostile alien race. However, this book is really more about the journey than the destination. The story’s focused on the interactions and personal lives of the different crew members, and they don’t reach the planet until nearly the end of the novel.
The blurb tries to convince you that a woman named Rosemary is the main character. She’s definitely one of the more central characters, but really this is an ensemble cast. She’s hired aboard as a clerk who’s hiding a secret. Other characters include: an alien pilot from a lizard like species; the ship’s captain, who’s involved in a secret relationship with an alien woman; two gregarious mechanics; a strange alien navigator; the ship’s AI; an alien who serves as both doctor and chef; and an anti-social man who takes care of the ship’s algae. All have their own problems and secrets which are explored over the course of the book.
I liked the inventive world building a lot. There are some elements that you commonly see, like a galactic government composed of multiple sentient species. I think those alien species were my favorite part – Chambers was very imaginative when it came to the creation of the different alien races.
The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet is a largely optimistic book that focuses on the everyday lives of its characters. It’s a happy, joyful book that’s very pleasant to read. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for character based or feel-good science fiction.