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Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers

Record of a Spaceborn Few

by Becky Chambers

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The first Wayfarers/Galactic Commons novel, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, didn't do much for me, as it was aimless and conflict-free, but I did end up enjoying the emotional journey of the second, A Closed and Common Orbit, so I picked up the third, Record of a Spaceborn Few. It's a lot like Kim Stanley Robinson's New York 2140, in that we follow a group of disparate protagonists as a way into seeing a futuristic society. Unlike New York 2140, though, the connections between strands are slight. A couple of the characters briefly meet during the novel, but there's no unifying plot.

It wants to be a book about the conflict between tradition and modernization: in the future, humanity has abandoned Earth for the Exodus Fleet, but once humanity discovers the Galactic Commons, more and more humans are leaving the Fleet for a more grounded life. So what's the point of the Exodus Fleet and Exodan tradition? But this was closer to the Long Way end of the Becky Chambers spectrum. The individual stories mostly left me cold, though every now and again there'd be a striking scene or moment, such as the Exodan funeral ceremony. I just feel like the characters and the themes don't have the depth needed to make Chambers's slice-of-life style storytelling work. Probably this will be my last Galactic Commons novel unless future installments are Hugo finalists again.
  Stevil2001 | Feb 2, 2019 |
Humans had to leave Earth because it could no longer sustain life, and they set off in spaceships that were meant to be temporary homes until they found new homes, but they ended up choosing to stay on those spaceships for many generations. This book examines the culture that has developed on those spaceships by following the stories of several different characters with varying degrees of satisfaction with their culture.

All in all, the world building is really good here, and it's nice to soak it in. However, the story moves really slowly and there's not much action. In some ways, all of the stories feel too tidy - they are all wrapped up neatly at the end, and even though the characters of the different storylines don't interact much, their stories all dovetail very tidily. On the other hand, given how much sci-fi is dystopian these days, it's refreshing to read about people and cultures who ultimately get along with each other. ( )
  Gwendydd | Jan 17, 2019 |
I like Becky Chamber's books very much, but sadly this one was my least favourite of hers. The writing is good, but I felt like there were too many characters, and not enough time to get to know them all, or emotionally get involved in their stories. ( )
  Hobbitlass | Jan 14, 2019 |
All the progress the author seemed to have made between the first two books - a cast small enough to care about, a storyline, earnestness without too much cringe - has been reversed, here. It's very much in the footsteps of book 1, except none of the characters are likable and my patience ran thin much faster. Book 2 got my hopes up for a home run, but it seems to have been an aberration, not a step forward. ( )
  pnppl | Jan 10, 2019 |
For some reason, this one didn’t grab me like the previous two did. I enjoyed it, certainly, the characters were interesting, the setting was fascinating, the worldbuilding was as lush as ever, but I don’t know, something about it just didn’t quite click for me. Which is not to say that I don’t recommend it; I definitely do! I thought it was good. I just didn’t immediately fall in love with it like I did the first two. ( )
  bluesalamanders | Dec 31, 2018 |
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For Anne, who showed me I could.
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'Mom, can I go see the stars?'
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Centuries after the last humans left Earth, the Exodus fleet is a living relic, a place many are from but few outsiders have seen. Humanity has finally been accepted into the galactic community, but while this has opened doors for many, those who have not yet left for alien cities fear that their carefully cultivated way of life is under threat.

Tessa chose to say home when the brother Ashby left for the stars, but is forced to question that decision when her position in the Fleet is questioned.

Kip, a reluctant young apprentice, itches for change but doesn't know where to find it.

Sawyer, a lost and lonely newcomer, is just looking for a place to belong.

And when a disaster rocks this already fragile community, those Exodans who still call the Fleet their home cam no longer avoid the inescapable question:

What is the purpose of a ship that has reached its destination?
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A young apprentice, an alien academic, a caretaker for the dead, an archivist, and others wrestle with profound questions after their evacuation ship, carrying the last humans on Earth, finally reaches its destination.

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