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Publisher's Summary

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, she's never met anyone remotely like the ship's diverse crew, including Sissix, the exotic 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's got 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.

©2014 Becky Chambers (P)2016 Tantor

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  • Soriea
  • Benton Harbor, MI USA
  • 03-23-17

This book has no plot.

Where does The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I'm not sure how to answer that. I have hundreds of audiobooks. I will say it wouldn't be in my favorites and I have no desire to listen to it again. That it has as many good reviews as it does is shocking and surprising to me.<br/><br/>It's not because the writing is bad. It's actually really good. But this book bonks everything I know about writing as far as needing a beginning, middle, end and some goal to achieve or overcome. This story is like packing up the friends and family and going on a week long road trip, then sitting down to watch home movies of what you saw. You get to see yellow stone, but you also stop at some old grungy gas station and buy pop tarts while waiting for your brother to fill up the car. That's not an overly exciting memory to have to watch for hours and you spank your sister on the head for filming those parts of the trip.<br/><br/>It sounds crazy, but that is the whole book. Yes it is character driven but none of the characters were doing anything interesting either. The captain, came off as a really nice guy, just not a captain. Some of the characters themselves were interesting, but not enough to carry an entire book with nothing really happening. Its just mainly a follow along. A look into mundane lives that lacked a goal or excitement.<br/><br/>Contrary to how I sound. I didn't hate the book. Again, it was well written and the narrator did a decent job. If the other books in the series are also plotless, then this will be my one and only trip into this universe. Its to bad as I really do like the world she built. I just need it all to go somewhere.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

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Wonderful characters; no real plot

What did you like best about The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet? What did you like least?

A great ensemble cast with beautiful dynamics among them. Fun, comforting. But no real plot! Lots of little episodes, but tension never develops except for short, half-chapter intervals.

24 of 25 people found this review helpful

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Nothing happens :( I couldn't even finish it.

Nothing happens :( I couldn't even finish it. I had high hopes but halfway through I just had to give up.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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The title is remarkably accurate!

Not only is the title a very brief precis of the story but, for once, the publisher's blurb is also pretty accurate as to the details of the story it describes!

Rosemary, on the run from a comfortable and privileged life that she's just discovered was funded by peddling armaments to escalate a dubious war, signs up as ships clerk on the tunnelling ship Wayfarer.

The Wayfarer is crewed by a most diverse group, probably the most diverse by any measure you care to choose actually! Each character is given a chapter or three in which too develop and the book is really a set of montages that come together really nicely with the overall story arc. There's nothing twisty or super thought-provoking, in fact, for the most part, it's about people being nice to other people!

This book reminded me of two things:
1) Nathan Lowell's "Trader's Tale from the Golden Age of the Solar Clipper" series. The main similarity is that both of these stories aren't so much exciting snippets of people's lives but a view into the life of, including the not so exciting bits like the toilet breaks and stopping for lunch. This doesn't make for a boring story in my opinion, I love the potential for immersive story-telling that this provides. Also, just to be clear, there's no shortage of action in the story; it's not all cleaning out the coffee urn.

2) There's a vibe to the captain and crew of the Wayfarer (and the Wayfarer itself come to think of it) that I found significantly evocative of the Serenity (from Joss Whedon's Firefly). I think this book would make a stupendous television series and the chapters really are perfect for serialisation as there's not usually an immediate spill-over from one chapter to the next.

The narration from Rachel Dulude was really well done, if a trifle slow. The character work made up for speed.

Overall, a really good book that ended too soon! I'm looking forward to more from Becky Chambers!

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Not my cup of tea

What disappointed you about The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet?

I understand that this book was meant more to be a slice of life book than an action packed adventure. However, the book is made virtually entirely of "side-quests stories." So little happens in most of the book and there is relatively little "on-screen" character development (note: this book does give every character a good background... but that is not the same giving them a character arc. More on each character "backstory" in my next section) in the characters that read the middle chapters of the book in any order in order without getting very lost in terms of what is happening and why characters behave the way that they do. A few side character change/grow a little... but most of the main character don't change/grow/fall throughout 90% of the book.<br/><br/>Also... while this book is superficially a Firefly-esque novel... it lacks the snappy dialogue and one liners that what make Joss Whedon written stories memorable. Seriously... why to half a dozen characters from different species and difference parts of the galaxy all use the phrase "Oh Stars!" as an exclamations of surprise/frustration.

What was most disappointing about Becky Chambers’s story?

"There are only two things I can't stand in this world: People who are intolerant of other people's cultures, and the Dutch."<br/><br/>Virtually all sci-fi novels contain a bit of the author's personal politics and viewpoints on the human condition. However, the author crams this book full of her viewpoints on tolerance, alternative lifestyles (both LGBT and body modification as well as intentional/alternative communities), religion, inter-racial relation, war vs pacifism, ADHD vs neurotypical, capitalism/colonialism, abortion vs right-to-life vs right-to-die, sentience/sapience, vaccinations, religion, etc. <br/><br/>A lot of these are interesting topics worth writing about. However, there are so many topics that the author doesn't really devote enough time to explore them fully in a organic and considerate way. Instead she uses a really heavy-handed technique of using a lot of infodump monologues to present an alien culture or situation as a thin-veiled metaphor with such a weakly established strawman that show of very definitely opinion on the each matter. <br/><br/>Even agreeing with many of the viewpoints, I still see this deus ex machina as lazy storytelling. In most cases, a character (typically the naive Rosemary) is challenged with these new viewpoint for maybe about a paragraph of two... before quickly agreeing to "the view" and then nothing more is devoted to it for the rest of the book.<br/><br/>In fact, despite "tolerance" of other people's lifestyles and beliefs being such an important theme in the book... she has no qualms about having her characters reject opposing viewpoints when they don't agree with them and then makes the story to show that they were right all long. I also dislike the continual explicit emphasis on the characters avoiding "human centric" thinking, I mean I understand the point and agree with it... but the way the author shoehorns it in comes off as very overly-PC... especially since despite explicit saying this multiple times, the humans still never the less judge all the other aliens for their culture/beliefs anyway. Maybe this was satire and it just went over my head.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Disappointment. The description. setup was promising... but I feel like the book either just wasn't for me... or wasn't edited very well (this book as self-published).

Any additional comments?

This book felt more like a companion short stories anthology that fills in stuff from a main series of books. If it had been that, I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more as there would have been a better foundation of plot and character development to hang these "filler" chapters on.

56 of 62 people found this review helpful

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Mispronunciations jarring

What did you love best about The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet?

This is a great fun story to listen to, with likable characters and a well-developed plot.

Any additional comments?

The repeated mispronunciation of the word 'heretic' in the final third of the book, when dealing with Sianats, was very jarring to me. I don't understand why audio producers don't catch this stuff.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

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And then...nothing happened.

Any additional comments?

God, at first I thought I was going to love this book so much. The universe is richly-imagined and unique, with everything I love. Hard science? Check. The story centered on a spaceship? Check. A universe with multiple species with unique perspectives and abilities? Check. Deep political skull duggery that threatens to upset the balance of power? Check. Exciting action to drive the story along...? Not so much.<br/><br/>Almost nothing happens in this book, except heavy-handed and cloying exposition of the crew. Kizzy is so Zany! Rose has a secret! The captain is so wise! The grumpy plant guy is grumpy--but you know he will come around, and he does. Doctor Chef is so nurturing! Did we mention how zany Kizzy is?<br/><br/>By the time the first flicker of action occurs, when space pirates board the ship half way through the book, I was hoping the pirates would kill everyone so we could start over in this wonderful, squandered universe. Maybe they could be replaced with the crew of the Rocinante? No such luck.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Part Firefly, part Mass Effect. All fantastic.

What did you love best about The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet?

The author uses alien species to view humanity from an outsider's perspective. Many of the main characters are alien, and I was fascinated with how they had to alter their natural behaviors and instincts to interact with humans. It was also very entertaining to learn how funny and/or odd they thought some of our ways were.

What did you like best about this story?

I loved the fact that the story was about the characters and their relationships with each other. Sure, there's plot and world building and all that. But the story's focus is on the crew, and the bonds they share. By the time you finish, you'll feel that bond too, and you'll be sad to see your time with them come to an end.

What does Rachel Dulude bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

She gives each character a unique voice, and uses them to convey emotions with honesty and depth. She also never brings attention to herself. You'll forget that she's even there.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

It's the journey that matters.

Any additional comments?

Buy this book. It's like the best parts of Firefly and Mass Effect have been put together to create something more than the sum of its parts. Prepare to laugh out loud. Prepare to cry real tears.

26 of 29 people found this review helpful

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Nothing happens

Maybe it's just me, but I was expecting a little more excitement from a sci-fi book. It had so much potential but nothing ever happened. It's just hours and hours of character development and a small poof of excitement then it ends.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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What A Glorious Year for New Sci Fi!


Ah, space.

Lately, I've needed an escape from Planet Earth, given all the insanity of the last few months, (still ongoing). Science fiction has become my go-to therapy because it lets me experience vicariously all the amazing alternate futures that so many sci fi authors have imagined. Authors like Stephen W. Bennett, and Michelle Diener, write the kind of books I love, and now I've found a new author! Yeah, me!

Great tech, great aliens and alien worlds, and humane humans who are just a bit different, gathered together in my virtual fox hole. The books let me breath, let me imagine that we're all going to survive this crazy current reality, somehow. And in the meantime?

What a fun way to travel!

Long Way is the story of a species-diverse crew who consider each other family. They work and travel together on a spaceship that punches new wormholes through subspace to make interstellar travel faster, and they visit planets along the way. Easy, peasy, until something goes wrong. Well, a few things go wrong, actually.

This is people oriented sci fi, often referred to as a "sci fi soap opera" -- a term I hate -- because relationships drive the plot instead of war. (We get enough of that in the real world, am I right?).

I loved taking the trip with Rosemary, Ashby, Sis, Kizzy, Jenks, Ohan, Dr Chef and Lovey. In fact, I loved this book, and can't wait for book 2 to come out on Audible!



Highly Recommended: For people who love character driven sci fi with lots of aliens, loads of action, and lots of space travel -- but who don't necessarily want or need a military style sci fi story.

22 of 25 people found this review helpful