Monday, November 7, 2016

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

If the title alone doesn't make you want to read this book, I don't know what to tell you.

For a long time, I avoided sci-fi because I expected it to be too heavy on the science side of things to really hold my interest.  Give me fantasy, I said, because anything involving magic has to be more interesting.  I've been making an effort to branch out more over the years, and I've found some sci-fi books that I've enjoyed along the way.

And then along comes a book like this, which makes me wonder how much I've been missing all this time.

Planet (no, I'm not typing out the whole title every time) is about the crew of a spaceship called the Wayfarer, which is a borer ship - it makes wormholes through the universe, essentially creating hyperspace paths for other ships to follow.  The book is, sort of, the story of what happens when the crew gets a big job to tunnel to a place near the galactic core, to open up an massive new route.

I say "sort of" because while that's the story, that's not what the book is about.  The book is about the Wayfarer's crew, a diverse and interesting and often hilarious mixed group of humans and members of other species.  We meet most of the crew in the first thirty pages, and by then, I knew I was going to love this book.  I wanted to spend time getting to know every single one of these people.

And thanks to the book's structure, I got that.  Each chapter or two feels more like an episode of a TV series, focusing on a smaller story or situation, rather than part of a standard ongoing storyline.  This works perfectly.  All of the crew members have a part in the larger story, but it's the smaller things that happen over the course of their journey that really matter.  We get to learn so much about all of them, and it's written in a way that makes it feel like we're in the ship along with these people, like when we close the book we could go hang out with all of them.

It's been a while since I was genuinely sad that a book was over when it was done, because there wasn't any more.  But it happened with this one.  Though I did just learn that there's a sequel on the way next year, which makes me happy.

Planet contains a whole lot of things I love in a story - diverse characters, fascinating places, excellent dialogue, interspecies relationships, non-human characters that are utterly relateable, and a world and setting that feels like it could actually exist.  It also has the distinction of being the book with the longest title I've read this year, barely beating out Patrick Rothfuss's The Slow Regard of Silent Things.  Planet is well-worthy of the quirks and oddities of its title, though, and I'd be hard-pressed to find a better thing to call this book.

Unless that thing is "on your bookshelf".  :P  It has a place on mine now, and I'll continue recommending the hell out of it to anyone who likes sci-fi.  Or who likes books, really.  I'm sure it's not the first book to do what it does, but it's all the little things scattered through the story's pages that make it so good and so worth reading.

Next week: Boom and Break.


  1. Sounds interesting really interesting! It's been awhile since I read a spaceship scifi (Alex's books excluded), and it's been itching my fingers to grab one up. This one looks like a promising possibility. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Yah! If you're looking for spaceship sci-fi, this is a great one. Some of the stops they make are really interesting too.

  2. Sweet! I love it when you come across a book that reminds you why you love reading. It sounds awesome!

    1. It is awesome. And I didn't know there was a sequel until I looked it up while I was writing this; it's been a while since I've been so glad to know there was more.

  3. It sounds like a great book! I'll have to check it out.