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

Somewhere within our crowded sky, a crew of wormhole builders hops from planet to planet, on their way to the job of a lifetime. To the galaxy at large, humanity is a minor species, and one patched-up construction vessel is a mere speck on the starchart. This is an everyday sort of ship, just trying to get from here to there.

But all voyages leave their mark, and even the most ordinary of people have stories worth telling. A young Martian woman, hoping the vastness of space will put some distance between herself and the life she‘s left behind. An alien pilot, navigating life without her own kind. A pacifist captain, awaiting the return of a loved one at war.

Set against a backdrop of curious cultures and distant worlds, this episodic tale weaves together the adventures of nine eclectic characters, each on a journey of their own.

I loved this book. It’s utterly charming and a real character-led ensemble piece. And, as I mentioned in my ‘on reviews’ post I realised that whilst I’ve posted up a fair few five star reviews over the years, here is a book which was so good, which I loved so much, that I really needed to rethink how I handed out my ratings.

It’s a book filled with a wonderful, diverse cast. The dialogue crackles between the characters. The worldbuilding is detailed and inventive, and though there are times when you realise there’s an infodump going on, you find that you just don’t care as you want to know more about these characters, their lives, their worlds.

The story starts with Rosemary Harper taking up her new job aboard the Wayfarer, home to a motley crew of seeming misfits. There are strong echoes of Firefly at play here (ragtag group aboard a beloved ship with a charismatic captain), but this is very much its own book. Soon our gang are off on a job across the galaxy, on their long way to a small, angry planet.

And it is a very long way, and we have so many adventures, meet so many species and planets and find out so much about the intricate worlds that Becky Chambers has spun together.

There’s sheer joy to the writing, it flows and bounces along through happiness, sorrow and adventure. Becky has created so many memorable characters here – Kizzy, Sissix, Dr Chef and more – and they’re all wonderfully realised. I could sit and listen to them chat all day. You really need to meet them for yourself.

This is my fourth five-star book of the year, but stands out at the top of the list by a long way.

Here’s Becky talking about her book. If you don’t want to read it after this…

Go, read it. But be warned, like Firefly, you’ll be sad when it’s over.

Author: dave

Book reviewer, occasional writer, photographer, coffee-lover, cyclist, spoon carver and stationery geek.

5 thoughts on “The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers”

  1. I like your review style, Dave. Very authentic :). Would love to feature your reviews in our weekly curated email digest that goes out to thousands of people.

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