The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet: Galactic Commons 1

Becky Chambers

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet: Galactic Commons 1
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The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet: Galactic Commons 1

Becky Chambers

When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn’t expecting much. The Wayfarer, a patched-up ship that’s seen better days, offers her everything she could possibly want: a small, quiet spot to call home for a while, adventure in far-off corners of the galaxy, and distance from her troubled past.

But Rosemary gets more than she bargained for with the Wayfarer. The crew is a mishmash of species and personalities, from Sissix, the friendly reptillian pilot, to Kizzy and Jenks, the constantly sparring engineers who keep the ship running. Life on board is chaotic, but more or less peaceful - exactly what Rosemary wants.

Until the crew are offered the job of a lifetime: the chance to build a hyperspace tunnel to a distant planet. They’ll earn enough money to live comfortably for years… if they survive the long trip through war-torn interstellar space without endangering any of the fragile alliances that keep the galaxy peaceful.

But Rosemary isn’t the only person on board with secrets to hide, and the crew will soon discover that space may be vast, but spaceships are very small indeed.

Review

If Firefly and Red Dwarf had a baby and it was raised by The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and the cast of Girls, and the baby was a novel, it would be The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet.

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet follows a cheerfully motley crew of humans and aliens as they drift around galaxies punching holes through space to create intergalactic wormhole tunnel things.

Kizzy, one of the techs, explains it much better than I just did and she uses props. Rosemary – the clerk and most recent (human) crew-member – is as new to it all as we are, having grown up sheltered by a wealthy family on Mars. She is welcomed aboard the Wayfarer by Captain Ashby (human); Pilot Sissix (an Anndrisk); Techs Kizzy and Jenks (both humans, one a little person); Chef and Doctor, Dr Chef (a Grum), Fuel specialist Corbin (human); Lovey (the AI and voice of the ship) and the navigator Ohan (a Sianat pair); most of whom are delighted by the new company.

Though it is set in huge expanses of black empty space in a galaxy full and busy with hundreds of different aliens and cultures to become accustomed to, The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet is a sweetly personal story. Though the destination and events of the conclusion were worthy of any season finale I’ve seen on TV, the journey itself was what mattered the most. It didn’t take me long at all to fall completely in love with each of the crew and by the end of the book I felt like I’d just finished a long road trip with the kind of housemates you’ve had for so long that your conversations are seventy-percent in-jokes and a hell of a lot of laughter.


Dani Solomon works in the Children’s & YA section at Carlton.

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