I’ve been waiting a long time to get to these books, and since the 3rd book was nominated for a Hugo this year, it seemed it was as good a time as any to start. And what a refreshing treat this was! I know that uplifting science fiction has been an ongoing trend for years, but considering this book came out in 2014, shows how long that trend has been going on.
THE LONG WAY TO A SMALL, ANGRY PLANET is an insanely inventive space adventure with a lovely crew of aliens and humans. I listened to this as an audio book (narrated by Patricia Rodriguez) so some of my points of contention may be hung up on that medium, but for a debut from Chambers, it was a lot of fun.
Ashby, the captain of a tunneling-ship(it makes wormholes) takes on a job that will take them to the galactic core and potentially dangerous territory. He has brought on a new clerk, Rosemary, who seems to be running from something. The techs, Kizzy and Jenks are chatty and lovable, while Sissix, their reptilian pilot keeps the peace, relatively. As the story progresses we find ourselves wrapped up in the inner dramas and navigating personal relationships as each of these crew members try and understand one another, to become a family.
The point of view is a omniscient narrator, which I don’t recommend for audio books generally, because whenever there is a section jump(and Chambers doesn’t have chapters that I sensed, only section breaks) it can be confusing when we switch “heads.” Otherwise, this was an excellent way to tell this weaving, intersecting plots of various crew members. This was particularly a pain when there was a lot going on.
Chambers seems to have written this with various themes and messages in mind, which some readers can take or leave. I didn’t mind, since I generally can take a story as is, but others who enjoy plot heavy stories and narratives that don’t “preach,” may be out of luck with this one. Yet, the overall message that Chambers may be trying to instill is that we should be able to work together and create community, no matter the life form or walk of life and that is a message I can surely appreciate. In fact, in light of recent events it seems like a pretty relevant and needed one.
I’m curious to see what the next installment holds, but this was a fun, romp through space.