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The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

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2,1051534,975 (4.08)350
When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn't expecting much. The Wayfarer, a patched-up ship that's seen better days, offers her everything she could possibly want: a small, quiet spot to call home for a while, adventure in far-off corners of the galaxy, and distance from her troubled past. But Rosemary gets more than she bargained for with the Wayfarer. The crew is a mishmash of species and personalities, from Sissix, the friendly reptillian pilot, to Kizzy and Jenks, the constantly sparring engineers who keep the ship running. Life on board is chaotic, but more or less peaceful - exactly what Rosemary wants. Until the crew are offered the job of a lifetime: the chance to build a hyperspace tunnel to a distant planet. They'll earn enough money to live comfortably for years... if they survive the long trip through war-torn interstellar space without endangering any of the fragile alliances that keep the galaxy peaceful. But Rosemary isn't the only person on board with secrets to hide, and the crew will soon discover that space may be vast, but spaceships are very small indeed.… (more)
Title:The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet
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The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

  1. 51
    Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (souloftherose)
    souloftherose: Both are optimistic space operas that focus on the characters and their relationships.
  2. 10
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» See also 350 mentions

English (152)  German (1)  All languages (153)
Showing 1-5 of 152 (next | show all)
Not perfect, but a better read than most of what I’ve been working through lately! The plot was secondary to the characters and their relationships and did not derive from them, but gave them things to react to. ( )
  quondame | Jan 9, 2020 |
What a charming book. It reminded me of Farscape in a lot of ways- humans as a minority group in a vast universe full of alien species with more knowledge and experience. ( )
  being_b | Jan 8, 2020 |
Felt like what you'd get if Star Trek were written by Oberlin graduates. Enjoyable enough, but didn't have enough narrative tension to really grab me. ( )
1 vote thegreatape | Jan 7, 2020 |
So, this is space opera. It ... has flaws. It's super lightweight, so things that might be forgivable in a weightier book stand out because there just is no *there* there.

We're on a spaceship with a cast of characters en-route across the galaxy to build a new wormhole. Nifty! Except...the chronology don't really hold together. If you're building a new wormhole, it would seem like you would start at the closest existing wormhole, somewhere civilized, and gradually get out into the boonies with the space hippies and exile planets and what have you. However, roughly 2/3 through they visit a major race's home planet. You would think that would have already been linked up and they could have started there? I mean, this is space opera, just give a handwave about r-dimensional muon pathing dictating the route and we're set. But no...

Anyway, we do get a series of vignettes from various locales and character development of the crew. Except...the crew isn't that interesting? Or rather, they're all tropes (fine - light space opera, remember) that have been done better elsewhere (eeeh, less fine) and Chambers doesn't really add anything to them. Yeah Joker & EDI had a nifty story line in Mass Effect, but I've already seen it. And Firefly's Kaylee and NCIS's Abby are fun expectation-defying technical women - but I've met them already. Do something different with it already.

The climax is...there. Honestly, I read this book a while ago and don't particularly remember it. Which, series of planet hopping vignettes, the one at the end involves combat. Sure. It didn't need to be spectacular, but it certainly doesn't redeem anything.

So we have a bunch of lightweight, ok-ish elements. What did this book do to get one star instead of three?

It has an agenda. It has a 'correct' way of thinking. Not the characters have a correct way of thinking, the author does. I don't have the book with me, so I have to paraphrase, but this scene exemplified it.

A couple of old friends meet up and are playfully giving each other shit. Side character looks over and 'scowled. obviously he didn't like friends insulting friends'
Really? That was obvious? Not 'obviously he didn't like fred's hair' or 'obviously he shouldn't have had beans for lunch'. but 'obviously he knew the correct way to act'.

As a repeating theme, not an isolated quote, that style of 'tell-don't-show' didactic morality gets patronizing and annoying whether I agree with it or not ( )
  alspachc | Dec 20, 2019 |
There's plenty to criticise here. If I approached TLWtaSAP critically, I think I would find the characters not quite plausible, the message rather pat, the morality a bit shallow and sometimes verging on didactic, the tone self-consciously derivative, the emotional content sentimental, and so on. But I don't want to do that, because if you let this book win you over instead of fighting it, it's great fun.

I've read a decent amount of science fiction, and frankly I'm sick of how dark most of it is. Even the relatively light-hearted stuff usually adopts some thriller elements to keep the reader engaged: gratuitous deaths, cliff-hanger chapter endings, ominous hints, foreboding atmospherics, that sort of thing. Sometimes darkness is necessary; there's plenty of it in the real world, so it's hard to avoid if you have serious ideas to express or explore. But it's also a cheap way of lending weight to fluff. And some of those tricks are used cynically to keep the reader engaged when they're neither having fun, nor learning, nor being made to think.

When I'm reading for entertainment, I don't want to feel frightened or depressed. I don't want to be manipulated into compulsive reading. I want to enjoy myself, and to end up feeling better than I did when I picked up the book.

TLWtaSAP is fun, and it's warm. It doesn't need darkness or much in the way of suspense, because the characters are likeable, the world is quite well-realised, the plot is gently compelling, and the style is energetic and enthusiastic without (usually) being cloying, and smooth without being (blatantly) patronising. Although it doesn't go particularly deep, it's no shallower than the majority of science fiction I've read, and quite a bit more emotionally intelligent and compelling. The prose isn't spectacular, but it blows (say) Asimov out of the water.

I don't think it would work for everyone, and there are probably some two-star reviews out there that I couldn't really disagree with. But for me, this was a great book to read for the sheer pleasure of it. And that's high praise. ( )
1 vote matt_ar | Dec 6, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 152 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Becky Chambersprimary authorall editionscalculated
Aquan, Richard L.Cover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Doll, ChristopherCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dulude, RachelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rodríguez, PatriciaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Szafranski, Paula RussellDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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From the ground, we stand;
From our ships, we live;
By the stars, we hope.

- Exodan Proverb
For my family, hatch and feather
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As she woke up in the pod, she remembered three things.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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