There’s not much more I can say about this book, except it was everything I wanted from a SF book. It had Artificial intelligence, dynamic characters, non-humanoid Aliens, intercultural communication issues, and love.
Rosemary Harper doesn’t expect much when she joins the crew of the aging Wayfarer. While the patched-up ship has seen better days, it offers her a bed, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy, and most importantly, some distance from her past. An introspective young woman who learned early to keep to herself, she’s never met anyone remotely like the ship’s diverse crew, including Sissix, the reptilian pilot, chatty engineers Kizzy and Jenks who keep the ship running, and Ashby, their noble captain.
Life aboard the Wayfarer is chaotic and crazy—exactly what Rosemary wants. It’s also about to get extremely dangerous when the crew is offered the job of a lifetime. Tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet is definitely lucrative and will keep them comfortable for years. But risking her life wasn’t part of the plan. In the far reaches of deep space, the tiny Wayfarer crew will confront a host of unexpected mishaps and thrilling adventures that force them to depend on each other. To survive, Rosemary has to learn how to rely on this assortment of oddballs—an experience that teaches her about love and trust, and that having a family isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the universe.
One of my biggest peeves is when the ‘aliens’ in SF stories are all humanoid. Come on! You went to the trouble of making up new worlds and planets, language and science, and yet all the aliens have two legs and arms and look a bit like us? So the fact that there were non-humanoid aliens was an immediate win for me.
Because of this, there are intercultural mishaps and I loved every second of it. I appreciated the honesty, the genuine mistakes, and the blunders we make when we have to deal with other species and cultures. Each character within the book is lively, and our main characters form this dynamic family atmosphere. They are incredibly colorful, close, and endearing to listen to (Did I mention I listened to this as an audiobook? It was an absolutely phenomenal reader). I would be hard pressed to pick my favorite character – whether it be the spunky mechanic, or the alien pilot, or even the human new crew member.
The story is very respectful of gender pronouns for different alien species, inter-species love affairs, and explores a variety of issues such as free will, pacifism, and the limits of love. How do we put the sins of our species, never mind our parents, behind us? There’s not much more I can say, other than I thoroughly enjoyed so many aspects of it and the science didn’t feel alienating. Chambers explains it in ways that don’t feel condescending, but are clear. Check out The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet on Goodreads.
Would you travel the stars?