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

1430789787569474338Everything about this book is what I honestly love about science fiction. Full of fascinating characters, complex species, intergalactic laws and society, this book was a wonderful read and it’s definitely one of my favourites of this year.

All you can do Rosemary – all any of us can do – is work to be something positive instead. That is a choice that every sapient must make every day of their life. The universe is what we make of it. It’s up to you to decide what part you will play.

I’m a sucker for complex societies and the possibilities of human life among other species. The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet looks at the possible political landscape of an intergalactic world, all within the small crew of a tunnelling ship. As Rosemary Harper, a young Martian human joins the motley crew of Wayfarer, hoping to run from her past, we too are swept into the world of 9 beautifully developed characters.

For the variety and elaborate design of Chambers’ world, the book is still remarkably easy to digest. I’m always slightly weary of the large science-fiction ‘epics’ for their hard to digest civilisations and they take forever to read and understand. Instead, Chambers presents and describes a galactic world that is still accessible and readable. It is light and easy to read yet still fully immersive. I sat down and basically didn’t move for hours until I polished it off.

It’s also the subtle things that make this book so intriguing and enjoyable. There’s the offhanded same-sex relationships, the exploration of polygamy, the exploration into stereotypes and the danger of comparing norms in other cultures. The inclusive and believable cultures aid to an exploration of our own, human society that we see as the ‘norm’, and Chambers challenges our views of our own ‘normal’ through the extremes of other species and civilisations. These subtle gestures add another layer to the story, a far more personal and individual one that explores more of our current society than we realise. It’s refreshing to have such varied and inclusive writing that doesn’t do it to ‘push the boat out’ or be ‘radical’. Instead, the simple inclusion of such aspects into the cultures that Chambers creates is both refreshing and beautifully done.

Although I feel, at times, Chambers didn’t get the pace of the book right, with the Hedra Ka ultimately hardly explored despite it being the aim of the Wayfarer crew, the book provides an immersive and exciting story that is definitely character-driven. The species, cultures and history are beautifully crafted into a book that I honestly didn’t want to end.

WHAT I LOVED: basically everything, characterisation, diversity of species

WHAT I DISLIKED: i didn’t want it to end!

Rating: five-stars

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