Review: A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers

9781473621435Becky Chambers blew me away with her amazing debut The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. It was science fiction at is best and was longlisted for literary as well as science fiction awards, and rightly so. So when her follow-up fell into my hands I was giddy with excitement and anticipation. Could it match the emotional resonance of the first book? Especially as it is a “stand-alone sequel” meaning the crew I fell in love with in the first book wouldn’t feature? The answer is YES and then some!

Sidra was an Artificial Intelligence on aboard a spaceship who has been transferred to a human “kit” body and must now learn to navigate the sentient world. She must keep her existence secret as it is highly illegal to transfer an AI and she will be shut down and her system wiped if she is discovered. Helping her navigate through this new life is Pepper, a highly skilled technician who can fix and rebuild almost any machine. Pepper has a vested interested in helping Sidra adjust to her new life in part due to her upbringing. Both Sidra and Pepper are searching for their place in this crazy universe and together they might just find it.

Becky Chambers once again sucks you into the world and universe of her two main characters. She alternates Sidra’s story with that of Pepper’s upbringing. We get the ups and downs of Sidra discovering her new life, her new capabilities and new limitations. And we learn about Pepper; who she is, where she came from and why she cares so deeply about what happens to Sidra. We live through both characters joys and heartbreaks, new experiences and frustrations. And I guarantee you will shed at least one tear by the end.

Once again Becky Chambers builds a world full of alien species, futuristic technology and space travel but truly amazes you with her characters and emotional resonance. A science fiction novel that isn’t battles and adventures but a wonderful exploration of humanity and belonging.

Buy the Book Here…

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

9781473619807I totally loved this book. This sucked me in from the opening sentence and still has not let me go. The moment I finished I started missing all the characters straight away and want to get back to this universe as quickly as possible. This is science fiction at its best; expansive, alien, full of worlds, peoples and technology to explore but at the same time containing an essence and humanity (not really the right word considering all the different types of life out there) that captures perfectly what we all strive for in our lives.

The book is set on The Wayfarer,a tunneling ship whose primary job is to dig holes through space to enable faster travel between points. It is dangerous but high paying work. Rosemary Harper has just been hired by the crew of the ship as their new clerk and it is through her we meet the motley crew; Ashby, Sissix, Kizzy, Jenks, Corbin, Dr Chef, The Ohan and Lovey. A mix of humans and aliens who all have vital roles aboard The Wayfarer. Rosemary has never left her home world so space and its politics, its settlements and its customs are all new, things she has read about but never actually experienced. As Rosemary gets to know her new crewmates she slowly learns their secrets but must remain protective of her own. But Rosemary must get to know all these things quickly as The Wayfarer is about to get a job of lifetime which might be the end of theirs.

The immediate comparison for this book is Firefly and while some of the crew dynamics do have a slight familiarity this is a completely different story and completely different types of people. Having said that this will definitely scratch a Firefly itch. What I really loved about the book was how well Becky Chambers creates each of the characters on board The Wayfarer. She reveals each character at different speeds and at different times and you end up forming a strong board with everyone aboard the spaceship. The other part I loved was that the book is not driven by the end destination, it is about the journey along the way. It is a long arduous journey and you are with them the whole way.

This was a completely satisfying novel that at the same time leaves you wanting more. Originally self-published after a kickstarter campaign it is now being published by Hodder & Stoughton. I really hope this means there will be more to come from The Wayfarer and her crew. I miss them already.

Buy the book here…