Review: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If, like me, Firefly’s untimely demise has left a hole in your SFF heart ever since you discovered it (it was DVDs for me back when Netflix was about DVDs), then this book is probably perfect for you. The big difference is that the crew of the Wayfarer is not escaping the law, they’re more like contractors for hire. In this case they’ll help create a wormhole for you so that you can get from point a to point b in hours instead of years or millenia. The captain wants to go for big government contracts so he hires Rosemary, our new-to-space character so that the reader has someone that’s learning along with them.

Just like Firefly, the Captain loves his crew and our newbie quickly becomes one of the crew. And like Firefly, the chapters are mostly episodic as they stop at various planets on their way to complete the mission. There’s a continuity to the story (you can’t just read the chapters out of order), but each one reads as thought it was the next episode of a TV show. (Especially when there’s a time skip)

What’s a bit more fun than Firefly is that the crew is a multi-species crew. Yes, it’s mostly humans, but there are almost as many non-humans on board. There’s also potentially at least one person you’ll see yourself in as the crew are different genders (including one who is 2 different genders in their life), spaced on different parts of the spectrum, and with different modes of sexuality.

As was mentioned in an episode of Imaginary Worlds, Becky Chambers often creates worlds filled with nice people. Everyone doesn’t get along perfectly on the Wayfarer, but everyone cares for each other. They’re always trying to do what’s best for each other. Found Family is a big topic in the literary world and it definitely strongly applies here. The folks speaking about it in the podcast mentioned it as a positive, especially in a world full of chaos and darkness. Some folks I follow on Goodreads found it made things a bit milquetoast. It may just be where I am in my specific circumstances right now, but I fell strongly in the former camp. I wanted to spend more time with everyone from the Wayfarer, especially Doctor Chef and Kizzy. It’s important to say that there was plenty of conflict and even a couple moments that almost made me tear up. It’s just that the conflict is MOSTLY external to the crew.

I strongly recommend it to any fan of Science Fiction who needs a little sunshine in their life; especially if you miss Firefly.

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