Becky Chambers

Some bits and pieces about Becky Chambers’ The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet — and its sequel!

22733729I loved The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers so much that I’m now “reading” it a second time. I put that in inverted commas because I’m actually listening to the audiobook this time, via my brand spanking new Audible account. It’s a pretty good version — not the best narration I’ve heard in an audiobook, but still fun to listen to. From what I’ve heard so far, Kizzy’s voice is done the best.

I just wanted to share a few bits of information I’ve gleaned by following Chambers’ twitter and blog. Firstly, Chambers is working on a sequel — I am so happy about this! The universe is such a great one and it deserves to be explored more. The sequel even has a title already, which Chambers revealed by uploading a photo of her notebook:

closedcommonorbit

Love the title! The relative length of these titles is just one of many things that helps this book stand out in the SF field, I think. Here’s hoping A Closed and Common Orbit reaches bookshelves soon; and may there be many more long-titled books from Chambers after that.

Secondly, other fans of the first book will be eager to read a series of blog posts Chambers has made on her early notes and writing process for The Long Way. Here’s part one and two. There are sketches, diagrams of the ship, lists, and all sorts of cool stuff, including a few hints about the next book. I really like Chambers’ personal sketch of what Sissix looks like, although I must admit I pictured Aandrisks having lizard-like snouts, not flat faces! Also, Chambers mentions in the first post that she watched Contact countless times on VHS as a kid. Well, me too! Ah, what an amazing movie… (I think it was probably amongst my top 5 most watched VHS tapes, alongside Jurassic Park, Starship Troopers, Goldeneye and Independence Day.)

I wish more authors would peel back the layers and share some of the “making-of” process like this. It’s absolutely fascinating to me. I’m the kind of person who watches every special feature on the DVDs and Blu-rays for movies I love, and this is just like that, but for a book. It’s especially interesting to see the work that goes into planning a novel, as I hope to one day write my own science fiction.

If you’re still on the fence about reading Chambers’ novel, check out my review of the book (it’s one of the most joyous SF books I’ve ever read) or watch this cool little video Chambers did where she introduces her work:

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My 2015 reading, part two… More reviews and thoughts!

2015_2Now that we’re at the year’s halfway point, once again it’s about time I collect my thoughts and mini-reviews about all the books I’ve read recently. Here’s the first of my 2015 posts. In this post and all future ones I’ll exclude the books that aren’t directly genre-related (which in this case is just one, the entertaining but pulpy World War II thriller, Where Eagles Dare by Alistair MacLean).

So, it’s been half a year and my reading rate has been absolutely atrocious. I won’t go into reasons, but it’s partly things out of my control, and partly being too easily consumed by video games and TV shows when I do get free time.

My goal for 2015 was to read at least 40 books, and so far I’m just on 13 ones finished (with a few in progress). I think I might revise my goal down to 30 and really try to prioritise ones I’ve owned and wanted to read for a long time, instead of getting sucked in by new releases.

Some of the reviews below are more just collections of thoughts about the book rather than coherent reviews, and often I’m cribbing from what I wrote on Goodreads when I finished each book. But I think I give an impression of what appealed to me about each book.

So read on for books featuring fantasy (of the dark, comedic, and “cozy” flavours), futures both optimistic and pessimistic, human-alien relationships, and more!

FINISHED IN FEBRUARY

20007633The Gunslinger by Stephen King – ★★★★½

I think this is my third time reading The Gunslinger, but I’ve never made it all the way through the whole Dark Tower septology before. This time I want to complete the series.

I forgot to write a review when I finished this back in February, and now I don’t have much to say about it, other than it’s a great first book broken into a handful of novellas, each weirder and unveiling more about the world than the last. I particularly love the journey Roland takes through the mountains with Jake, and the remnants of long-dead civilisation that they find there. Haunting.

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Review: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

25201920I haven’t done a book review for a while here, and I was planning my next post to be a round up of a number of books I’ve read lately, like the last one. But I just finished a book that was so good that I felt it deserved its own review.

First, here’s the jacket copy of The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Amazon link) by 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.

This is the kind of book I’ve been waiting to read for years. It’s a slice-of-life space opera set on board a working class ship with a varied and well-drawn crew. The stakes aren’t very high, which is to say the plot isn’t anything galaxy shattering. It’s more just a number of small adventures as the Wayfarer‘s crew travels towards the galaxy’s centre on a job. To compare this book to one of its probable inspirations, this is more like a collection of Firefly episodes than the movie Serenity. Each little sub-story (usually taking up one or two chapters) allows a different character to have their moment in the spotlight, and we learn a great deal about the characters’ stories and motivations along the way. By the end of the book I felt at home with the crew as I did with the Serenity or Normandy‘s crew. I look forward to reading many more stories about the Wayfarer and its people.

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