Book Review(s): The Wayfarer Series by Becky Chambers

Book(s) Review: The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet and A Closed and Common Orbit

I got the first book as a hostess gift from some friends who stayed at my place over PAX DEV week. I’m always curious about fun new scifi and these are pretty recent. I was expecting dramatic flairs, super space battles, some self awareness and a dollop of insight. I wasn’t expecting to cry, to be touched, and to be envious.

Stories are often one single arc of setup, conflict, and resolution. This was a series of small, interpersonal conflicts and resolutions, resolutions so sweet and caring and sensitive that I fell in love with the lizard woman. I know, right?

It’s hard to describe the plot; the story doesn’t move the way you might expect. There are no huge plot twists, no massive battles, no critical intrigues, just good folks doing well by each other. I kept trying to predict plot movement but the simple humanity in it surprised me time after time. The reviews called it feel good scifi where bad things happen but the universe is, in general, a good place.

I deeply believe that we are all capable of compassion and understanding. After reading the Bonobo and the Atheist my feelings of goodwill toward individual humans have soared. Reading about alien species interacting with with each other compassionately and lovingly reminded me of the best in my own relationships. Walking through the thought processes as people confront their own biases and make informed, loving decisions in relationships made me feel so strongly glad I actually teared up a few times.

I’m on the outside of poly, swinger, and kink communities but I know people actively involved and the way they talk about consent, communication, and intimacy resonated with me, even without first hand experience. I recently had a brief conversation with a friend about expectations and how it’s reasonable to have them, but unreasonable to react with anger or dismissal when they are broken. These characters operated within limits, just like we do, and when they experienced events that didn’t fall within their past experience, they allowed for exceptions without judgement or anger.

I hope and wish for that with all our experiences. I hope and wish that when someone behaves in a way we don’t expect, people displaying behaviors that don’t fit with our ideas or experience, instead of getting angry at our own discomfort, we let it pass and address the current situation.

Some people like books with epic arcs or dark endings but if you want something that will make you smile and just might make you cry, pick up ‘The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet’ and thank me later.