Review: The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet

The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

Small angry planet coverThis is how sci-fi should be done. It has outer space, and spaceships, and algae, and aliens and more aliens and blaster fights and explosions and misunderstandings and strange markets and cultures-

And it’s about people. It’s about relationships.

Every single alien – ‘baddies’ and humans included – is understandable. They are all people. They are all personalities. Their motives and longings and experiences and dreams and hates and hopes are all laid out so brilliantly that it doesn’t matter what species they are – except that it does. The clashes between the cultures, the misunderstandings and similarities and changes, the discussions and the bonds, all make up as much of the book as the characters do.

It’s not devoid of action – a lot of things happen! There’s fights and danger and death and trouble and discord. But I love that it’s so character-led and people-centric. Even when the ship is in trouble, when someone’s attacked, when a decision has to be made – it’s the people making it. It’s not someone firing a blaster; it’s someone deciding to fire a blaster. That makes it sound really introspective, and it’s not. But you can see the choices being made by every single person, including those who would traditionally be the ‘baddies’.

I absolutely adore Lovey and Kizzy; I love the way Rosemary changes and that her secret isn’t really that important – or that it ends up as important as a lot of other factors. There’s less nice people too (*hem* Corbin *hem*) but they’re understandable, and nuanced, and still human despite their choices. The multiple cultures and people are wonderful, and the writing is just brilliant – it’s incredibly readable and never dense, never flat, always leading you onwards. I love the sheer variety and the otherness of so many of the worlds, but seen through the eyes of people we can relate to, even if they’re aliens.

It’s a very nice change to have a positive look at sci-fi, in a universe where diplomacy and peace are possible, and where it isn’t all aliens and blasters – although that does still feature, which is a nice note of realism. But I love that overall the book is just about people; it’s about a captain and his crew trying to do a job, about people in love, people trying to sort out the best thing to do, people struggling to understand their place in their world and the universe. It’s a beautiful, enchanting and optimistic read that is a sheer joy.

This is part of my Discoverability Challenge.