Review – The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

I picked up a copy of The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet on a whim, I had a gift certificate to use and I decided to buy some science fiction books that I hadn’t heard of before.  Kind of looking at it like the gift voucher was a bonus so I should use it to try something I wouldn’t normally buy.  In the book store there was a card written by the staff suggesting this one with the assurance that if you love Star Trek and Firefly you’ll love this.

Well they weren’t wrong.

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet follows Rosemary Harper as she leaves behind her life on Mars to join the crew of the Wayfarer.  The Wayfarer is an old patch together ship that builds hyperspace tunnels for long distance travel ease.  They’re offered a contract that promises to reward them well and along the way secrets are revealed.

The Long Way To A Small Angry PlanetWhat I love most about this book is that the characters are unbelievably well written and an absolute joy to get to know and spend time with.  By the end of the novel I realised that I almost didn’t care about the overarching plot and story but was desperate to read more about each of these fully flesh out crew members.  That’s not to say that the plot is a slouch, far from it, but it is the characters that drive this book forward.

I think Chambers has nailed this universe so well that it would be a great tragedy not to revisit it (there are two more books thankfully – but I greedily hope that there will be more).  The aliens are different from humans, they have different cultures and attitudes which are again wonderfully developed and revealed to us.  Even the most unlikeable character is given a story arc that is both interesting and humanising.

The book is fun science fiction and with all the bleak, angst ridden and gritty science fiction floating around out there it’s nice to be able to be completely engaged in a complex character woven piece that offers all the highs and lows plus doesn’t ignore harder science fiction elements and concepts.

I don’t think that I can recommend this book enough, whilst I would agree that if you like Firefly you’ll love this I don’t want to give the impression that this is a clone or follows the old tropes too closely.  This book is fresh and a delight to discover and whilst I wish Chambers all the success she deserves with this I almost hope that no one tries to make a film from it or a comic book or anything else as I worry that no one would be able to do it justice.  Of course that’s how everyone feels about their favourite book and if it game me more Wayfarer material I’d probably take it.

I took this with me to Tasmania last year and read it whilst trekking through the wilderness only because I started it just before leaving and the thought of not finishing it was too much.  Upon returning to Hobart I went to my nearest book store and bought the next book despite an increasing concern over space in my bag.

Go read this book today, you’ll thank me (obviously not as much as you’ll be thankful to Becky).