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

BLOG“From the ground, we stand;
From our ships, we live;
By the stars, we hope.”

Exceptionally smart and undeniably charming, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is the tale of a crew of nine diverse characters, their personal journeys, and one grand mission.  We start by meeting a woman named Rosemary who has been hired as a clerk on a tunnelling ship.  The job of the ship is to punch holes in space, creating a direct route between locations.  The ship is comprised of a crew of individuals of various species, each with interesting backgrounds and personalities.  When a small, distant planet with a violent and mysterious history is accepted into the Galactic Commons, the crew is hired to make the long trip there and punch a tunnel that would allow quick back and forth travel.  Throughout the course of the journey, we get to know the characters, learn about their lives, and enter an incredible galaxy.

Becky Chambers creates a galaxy of different worlds and species with a fascinating history.  Everything is very well developed and springs to life page after page.  It just works on every level; the characters, the dialogue, the description, and it is apparent that it was all done with great care and thought.

This is not your typical science fiction story.  It is less an action packed whirlwind through space, and more of a character-centred journey that explores the complexities of the galaxy and asks important questions.  It provides an interesting view of Humans through the eyes of different species as well as our own biases when looking outside ourselves.  There were a number of points in the book where the author could have gone the standard route, but she stays true to her characters and delivers a story that is captivating, endearing, and thought-provoking.  This is a book I will definitely be re-reading for many years to come.

Favourite passage: “The truth is, Rosemary, that you are capable of anything. Good or bad. You always have been, and you always will be. Given the right push, you, too, could do horrible things. That darkness exists within all of us. You think every soldier who picked up a cutter gun was a bad person? No. She was just doing what the soldier next to her was doing, who was doing what the soldier next to her was doing, and so on and so on. And I bet most of them — not all, but most — who made it through the war spent a long time after trying to understand what they’d done. Wondering how they ever could have done it in the first place. Wondering when killing became so comfortable.”

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