‘The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet’ Book Review

Mount Readmore Book Review, 2017 81/100


The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet By Becky Chambers

Audiobook Edition, Narrated by Rachel Dulude

Finished on 10/6/2017


Description: When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn’t expecting much. The Wayfarer, a patched-up ship that’s seen better days, offers her everything she could possibly want: a small, quiet spot to call home for a while, adventure in far-off corners of the galaxy, and distance from her troubled past.

But Rosemary gets more than she bargained for with the Wayfarer. The crew is a mishmash of species and personalities, from Sissix, the friendly reptilian pilot, to Kizzy and Jenks, the constantly sparring engineers who keep the ship running. Life on board is chaotic, but more or less peaceful – exactly what Rosemary wants.

Until the crew are offered the job of a lifetime: the chance to build a hyperspace tunnel to a distant planet. They’ll earn enough money to live comfortably for years… if they survive the long trip through war-torn interstellar space without endangering any of the fragile alliances that keep the galaxy peaceful.

But Rosemary isn’t the only person on board with secrets to hide, and the crew will soon discover that space may be vast, but spaceships are very small indeed.

Genres: Science Fiction, Space Opera

A mostly cheerful adventure through space with friends.

Spoiler-tastic review

I read this a month too late for the Sword and Laser Book Club. Oops!

In a Star Trek-esque future, mankind has joined an interstellar alliance between a multiplicity of species. There’s Rosemary the human clerk from Mars; Kizzy the human astromech engineer; Lovey the ship AI; Ashby the constantly harassed human captain of the ship; Ohan the alien space-autistic astro-navigator; Sissix the bird-like spaceship pilot; Dr Chef the really alien chef and doctor of the ship; Jenx the human ai engineer and Corbin the human algae-fuel engineer. I mentioned them all because they are all vital to the story.

This is a ‘character’ book, meaning you have to like the characters if you want to like this book. If you start reading this book and don’t like the characters, just stop. This book contains a lot of protagonists and very little formal plot. If you want a traditional space opera with villainous bad guys and heroic goods guys, you’re just going to get heroic good guys. There are no recurring bad guys, a la Sauron or Darth Vader who challenge the main characters multiple time. Instead there are several minor bad guys/sources of conflict which act as obstacles for the main characters.

The novel’s plot isn’t the point of this book. When I was reading this my first reaction was ‘what’s the point?’ The reason why I had this reaction was because the book’s start is slow, and its middle is slow and it’s end is slow-yet-bittersweet. Additionally the book was constructed out of multiple vignettes instead of a steadily unfolding and progressing plot, which only contributed to the disjointed nature of the plot. Yes, there was a plot (go punch some holes in space) but that plot was in service of a greater story.

If I had one significant piece of constructive criticism, it’s the same one that I’d level at the Mass Effect universe: all the species are ‘humanish.’ Virtually all the alien species function on the same male/female paradigm as humanity. There are gender and sex issues explored in the novel, but in the context of aliens who were just like us but just a smidgen different. I wanted some REALLY weird species.

The characters were happy, and listening to this audiobook made me happy. Highly recommended.


Audiobook notes: The narrator did a workmanly job. She doesn’t stick in my mind as being particularly memorable- which is a good thing because it means I remembered this book because of the book itself and not the voice actor.


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