The Long Way To A small An­gry Planet

They aim to be­have

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Rated / Books -

Re­lease Date: 13 Au­gust

416 pages | Hard­back/ ebook Au­thor: Becky Cham­bers Pub­lisher: Hod­der & Stoughton

There can’t be many SF

fans out there who’ve watched Joss Whe­don’s Firefly with­out the thought oc­cur­ring that wheel­ing and deal­ing through space with a crew of mis­fits could be fun. Becky Cham­bers is here to scratch that itch for you.

Rose­mary Harper, a young woman with a se­cret that she’s paid a lot to hide, gets a job as a clerk aboard Way­farer, a rust bucket that’s home away from home for its multi- species crew. Through her eyes, and those of her new col­leagues – world- weary cap­tain Ashby, ir­re­press­ible me­chanic Kizzy, lugubri­ous cook/ doc­tor Dr Chef, among oth­ers – we en­ter a uni­verse full of life and colour, as the Way­farer takes on the job of a life­time. ( Maybe the end of its life­time.)

The world is ex­plored in lav­ish, lov­ing de­tail, from phys­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment to flavours to so­cial cus­toms. This is the book’s strength and its weak­ness. It all feels lived in, but of­ten the story can’t breathe for in­fo­dumps – in­fo­dumps pre­sented with per­son­al­ity and charm, yes, but in­fo­dumps nonethe­less. This ex­tends be­yond the world, to the char­ac­ters; Cham­bers can’t re­sist telling us how to read their ev­ery ac­tion, as if she doesn’t trust us to un­der­stand them prop­erly. Also, while we have no ob­jec­tions to char­ac­ters be­ing nice, surely folks who live aboard a space­ship are go­ing to have a few more dis­agree­ments? Nic Clarke Long Way was orig­i­nally self- pub­lished, via crowd­fund­ing: the writ­ing time was sup­ported by a Kick­starter cam­paign.

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