The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
Book Review by Kristine Madera
Not quite on the run, Rosemary Harper flees her family’s infamy in the human colony on Mars by joining the crew of the Wayfarer, a jalopy of a ship that tunnels wormholes through space. Filled with an imaginative galactic cast and a mind-blowing array of everyday tech, The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet is a fun romp through space with a mix of species, genders, and galactic cultures that also explores intergalactic, interspecies relationships of various kinds, including family, chosen family, romantic, professional, and diplomatic.
The story spine of The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet is the Wayfarer’s contract to shortcut through space to a potential new member of the Galactic Commons, which could provide a key resource. Things happen. They face crises. Hearts are healed and broken. These are all interesting.
The story isn’t the most compelling thing about The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, and I don’t think it’s meant to be. Cozy Sci-fi, in which getting to know the characters and enjoying their ponderings, actions, and dynamics provides the crux of the story, is a growing trend—and hopefully one that expands.
The imagination Becky Chambers brought to the characters and world in The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet was the magic of the book to me. I found myself wanting to get back to the book not because I needed to know what happened in the plot, but because the world and the characters were amusing, enlightening, and—I’ll say it out loud—soothing.
Chambers brought in multiple elements to ponder, from human/alien body types and the abilities that came with those types, galactic cultural norms like closeness and touching, and many variations on gender. On a galactic stage, the spectrum of differences seems natural and highlights in contrast the narrow spectrum of human cultural norms. Chambers also discusses the use of tech for personal enhancement and the perils and promises of that trend as we lurch our way down it.
What I like best about this book is the way the characters interact with one another. Their playfulness, impishness, and general mutual respect would be improbable in a book set in modern-day Earth, but what a breath of fresh air in a world that can seem meaner by the day.
A terrific read to chill out by a winter fire or on a summer day in a hammock under a shade tree.
As we move ever closer to becoming a spacefaring species ourselves, we may find that we are part of a well-populated galaxy and universe. Reading about models of cooperation, confederation, and common interest helps lay the groundwork for approaching these potential interactions from a posture of curiosity, possibility, and peace rather than the adrenaline-fueled battle-between-worlds scenarios that have dominated movies and books.
Kristine Madera is a #1 bestselling Amazon author, novelist, hypnotherapist, and pro-topian with a passion for helping people better themselves and the world. Informed by global travel, teaching abroad, and a stint as a Peace Corps Volunteer, Kristine believes that everyone plays a part in imagining and creating our collective future.
Volunteering at Mother Teresa’s Home for the Dying in Calcutta inspired her novel, God in Drag. She birthed her upcoming novel, The Snakeman’s Wife, as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Papua New Guinea.
Read the first chapter of God in Drag HERE