Recently I have been reading a lot of science fiction from modern authors, authors who are up and coming. We are currently living a great moment in both science fiction and fantasy. New authors are providing great stories and are taking these genres to previously unseen territories. One of those authors is Becky Chambers and I have just read her first novel, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, after it was recommended to me by a very good friend. This novel was shortlisted for the 2016 Arthur C. Clarke Award and is a combination between classic hard science fiction and space operas in the style of Star Wars.
That combination was very appealing to me as I love science fiction and read a lot of genre books and well if you know me, you know that I ADORE Star Wars. Thus this book sounded like the perfect book for me and I can say without a doubt that it did not disappoint. After reading this big scale science fiction books with huge stakes (for example the fantastic trilogy by Cixin Liu), reading something a bit more low key and intimate was exactly what I needed. The book follows the trip of the multi-species crew of the Wayfarer as it embarks on a yearlong mission to set up a space route to a new planet that has joined the Galactic Commons (a galactic organization very similar to the one seen in Star Wars). The story is told through different POVs (namely the entire crew) and as the story develops we get to learn about their pasts and reach a better understanding of the characters. By the end of the book I had come to love this crew, the author through the interactions between them and through the exploration of their past, is able to give us rich characters that we come to understand and appreciate. Even the non-human characters are well developed and you come to understand their point of views.
This book is all about their characters and their journey. It is very easy to relate to them and come to understand them. However that said, the book does also give us a great and wonderful world full of different races that clearly has a lot of potential that can be developed in future novels set in the same universe. Furthermore, the story that slowly develops throughout the book provides an interesting backdrop that pays off satisfactorily and allows the characters to grow and complete their character arcs.
Overall, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, is a fun, character driven space opera that will have you entertained and will make you fall in love with the characters. Becky Chambers is without a doubt an author that any space opera or science fiction reader must check out. I can’t wait to read more novels from this author (in fact I have already bought the second novel) and go back to this universe and this characters, as well as new ones.