I hope you all had an amazing Christmas and a happy New Year!
This week I’m going to be talking about The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers which I picked up whilst visiting Astley Book Farm with Beth!
TLWTASAP is a Sci-Fi, new adult story that follows the Wayfarer, a wormhole tunnelling ship that hurtles through the galaxy, boarded by an eccentric and eclectic crew of ‘spacers’. Set in the distant future, this book asks the big questions about gender, sex, humanity, science and the environment.
TLWTASAP was brilliant because it was story-less. Going into this, reading the blurb, you might think thats its going to be about Rosemary, the new clerk onboard the Wayfarer and her new life in space. And yeah, it is about that but it is also about every other crew member and all of their other pasts and loves and lives. I think its important to tell you now that TLWTASAP does not have a plot per se, but is more like a Tv show in that you will watch lots of episodes that all cleverly tie together before a satisfactory but equally independent season finale. This style of writing was like nothing I have ever encountered before and thats why it was even more refreshing; One chapter I might be reading about interspecies relations and the history of the Galactic Commons (This was extremely interesting) and the next I might be pouring my soul out over the tragic past of a crew members life on their homeplanet. Between each page, the possibilities and the size of the universe feels endless.
I want to shed light on my favourite part of the book which wasn’t a moment in the narrative or an aspect of a single character but instead a focus within the writing itself. TLWTASAP impressively makes you think about who you are as a human by spending over a third of the book, intermittently, describing, discussing and enlightening you on the mannerisms, cultures and belief systems of entirely made up species. The multi-species crew has all of the flare that you would expect from aliens in Sci-Fi but it also allows us to question what we value as modern 21st century citizens when the institution of marriage for an Aandriskk is so completely different to ours or the concept of happiness to the Grum is but a trivial endeavour. Chambers is especially good at being specific about the histories and worlds behind her aliens. These are not UFO-riding green men, these are sapient beings with rich backgrounds – they are, paradoxically, real people.
The only limitation for me was the fluffiness of the crew and how perfectly ‘troupey’ they all felt at times. Sometimes this read more like a fan fiction than a piece of fiction – which isn’t always a bad thing. Perhaps, in my dream novel, everyone would be a bit more cynical and gritty, but in space its fair enough that they wouldn’t all have there feet on the ground.
I recommend this book, not if you are looking for an epic space opera, but if you are wanting to read a story about people.
I give this book a 4 out of 5 stars.
Keep on reading!
And thanks again Beth.