“Do not judge other species by your own social norms”
The Wayfarer is not the nicest ship in galaxy, nor is it the best, but it’ll do for Rosemary, who needs a fresh start away from a world filled with bad memories. This motley crew is filled with a variety of species, it’s a place she can disappear. It’s a place she might be able to call home. If they survive that long. The crew have just taken on a dangerous job, one with a lot of benefits, but it might just kill them all if it doesn’t go to plan. Through the darkest parts of space they must just learn how to survive, and how to trust each other.
The whole crew has something to hide. Yet it’s hard to keep things under wraps when you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere with the same six sapiens… Especially when disaster is on the horizon at every turn.
You all know the drill, it’s time for the spoiler warning.
I read the first novel in this series back during my holiday in July, it was the perfect, easy Sci-Fi read for a relaxing break. Although every synopsis of this book makes it seem like this is a fast-paced, action-packed read… it isn’t. Although this isn’t a bad thing. It’s very hard to describe this book without focusing on the danger that hovers over the entire novel. Both novels in fact (although I didn’t expect this going into the second one as I already knew what Becky Chambers was really going for with this series). These novels are more of a social commentary on the futuristic world she has created. It’s focus is the differences and similarities between each species, the differing societies within this mixed universe, and how they all interact. If you want to get really critical, it’s practically an analogy for human beings right now; how much more beautiful the world would be if we all got along despite out differences, just like the diverse crew of the Wayfarer. If you want to get really deep. Nevertheless, it’s just as much fun to read without the critical spectacles and simply enjoy Chambers quality storytelling.
Chamber’s is a master at creating a vast array of species, she makes them all seem so real and believable that these could be real species she’s revealing to us. We just don’t know it. The Aandrisk, Sianat Pair, and Grum that fill the halls of the ship are each given time to explain their culture to Rosemary (and us), without it feeling too much like a diversion from the story. Which is good, because if it’s one thing this novel doesn’t need, it was to go off on long tangents that lost the readers attention.
One thing I am pretty disappointed with is that there wasn’t more of a plot. I like to think of this as Sci-Fi Literary Fiction; it focuses more on the connection of its characters and making important statements about life. This isn’t necessarily a bag thing, I just like a little more action in my Sci-Fi. The ending of the novel truly had me gripped as the hovering, almost invisible threat, came charging to the surface. I’m a sucker for those typical ‘heart-in-your-mouth’ moments, and this novel just didn’t provide.
For some reason, even though A Closed and Common Orbit was even more character focused, I enjoyed it more. This time Chambers only has two points of view and they jump between time streams, which I really liked. Finding out about Pepper’s backstory was a highlight in this book, I was always more eager for her chapters rather than Lovey’s. Even though at times they were just as slow, Pepper’s story gripped me, I wanted to blast through to the end and see whether she got off the planet. Which of course she did, she was in Lovey’s chapters, that was how lost I got in her chapters.
This novel seemed to have more of a direct focus than it’s predecessor, it really looked at sentient AI’s and whether or not they were the same as other sapiens. A tough question to answer, but it’s hard not to agree with the outcome after going through Lovey and Pepper’s journeys. However, my need for drama was met in this novel, as both points of view had a more constant danger element. Pepper trying to escape the planet she was trapped on, and Lovey’s constant battle with not being found out as a rogue AI. Maybe I just connected with the characters more, but this is definitely my favourite one so far. Although, I did want the wayfarer crew to pop up at least once to keep the connection between the novels. They were mentioned briefly, but this was very clearly a different story. Not a sequel, but a companion.
I did enjoy these books, and I’m certain I’ll pick up the next one. First I may need to figure out if there is one and when it will be released, but I’m assuming that Chambers will be expanding her world with another set of characters. So if you’re looking for a softer Sci-Fi novel, then this series is perfect. It gives you all the tech babble you need, with sweeping characters stories that really try to make you think about the world. Or the universe…