So often after reading a book I particularly enjoy, I immediately turn to fanfiction. For many couples I ship, if you gave me a five-volume series that was nothing but stories of just their everyday domestic life I would marathon read it within days. I think there is a lot to be said about having a slower plot in favor of character exploration.
In a way, A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers reminds me of those kinds of stories. Unlike most sci-fi I’ve read, this book doesn’t rely on dramatic intrigue or epic battles (although there is a bit of both). The overarching plot of the novel is rather simple: a eclectic crew aboard a spaceship that builds wormholes must first venture to the far reaches of the galaxy before they can begin their latest assignment. Because their destination is so far away–lots of traveling through empty space–the book spends the majority of the time exploring the lives and cultures of the different aliens on the ship.
One of the strengths of this book is its diversity. Among the humans, there are nonwhite and nonheterosexual main characters. Among the other aliens, there are species that completely forgo anything resembling the gender binary. There are cultures where promiscuity and open affection is considered the norm and cultures were interspecies relations are taboo.
The one issue I had with this book was that the dialogue often sounded too expository. Part of that is understandable, since us readers must be introduced to all the different aliens, but at times the stilted dialogue just became distracting. This was especially the case when characters were talking about their feelings.
The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet is the first of a series, and I look forward to where these characters go next.