I’ve been reading the Wayfair’s series over the past few months and I finally got around to wrapping up the last in this loose trilogy of books. The Hugo nominated, RECORD OF A SPACEBORN FEW by Becky Chambers, feels like both an homage to humanity and a hopeful look to the future.
The Exodus Fleet is a working ruin. Humanity has spread across the galaxy in various frontier planet settlements, or joined the galactic community at large, but the Fleet remains as does it’s former way of life. There are those who want to keep it and others who would rather it leave behind, but either way it asks the question of where humanity is ultimately going, even if the Fleet has not finally stopped.
Following Kip, a young apprentice, who just cannot find the right trade. Sawyer, a newcomer to the Fleet, who is just looking for community and belonging. And Tessa, who chose to stay rather than follow her brother into the stars. These disparate stories all weave together to create an amusing, but touching novel.
This final installment as the others do, only share the universe with limited references to previous characters and places. Here, Chambers chooses to examine what remains of humanity and what is their future. Filled with both the humor and melo-drama of the previous books, it seems here that Chambers has written her most complicated plot thus far, to marvelous effect. There is plenty to love here and as much comfort as a mug of mech can give the reader.
Chamber’s prose is light, heavy on description and inner thoughts, all while still immersed in her themes of community, good intentions, and hope. While, there are so few novels that hope to do this, and it is welcome to the corpus of science fiction, I cannot help, but feel that after three novels of this, it has become proselytizing. There’s a bit of soft values being inserted alongside the acceptance of various pieces of her over-arching world view. Its not that this is particularly bad, but once you pick up on what she is doing, especially after three books of it, it can become tiresome.
Either way, the humor and lovely prose makes up for this and the story’s core is one that needs to be more widespread, so if you’ve kept with Chambers thus far, this is a great book to end on. And I cannot end my review without this refrain from the Exodins:
“From the ground, we stand. From our ship, we live. By the stars, we hope.”