The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Beckie Chambers | Arthur C. Clarke Shortlist Post #4

I am currently trying to read the entire Arthur C. Clarke shortlist, before the announcement I only read Europe at Midnight but since all the other books looked interesting I decided to challenge myself to read the entire shortlist before August 24th (the date  the winner will be announced). The shortlist is as follows :

 

 


24956528

Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher: Hodderscape

Length: 404 pages

Format: ebook

Rating: 4 stars

 

 

 

 

Publisher’s description

Somewhere within our crowded sky, a crew of wormhole builders hops from planet to planet, on their way to the job of a lifetime. To the galaxy at large, humanity is a minor species, and one patched-up construction vessel is a mere speck on the starchart. This is an everyday sort of ship, just trying to get from here to there.

But all voyages leave their mark, and even the most ordinary of people have stories worth telling. A young Martian woman, hoping the vastness of space will put some distance between herself and the life she‘s left behind. An alien pilot, navigating life without her own kind. A pacifist captain, awaiting the return of a loved one at war.

Set against a backdrop of curious cultures and distant worlds, this episodic tale weaves together the adventures of nine eclectic characters, each on a journey of their own.

 

Review

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet is what I would call a feel-good book. It has a very thin plot: it mostly focuses on character relationship and it’s quite refreshing.

Indeed, I love SF but it tends to be quite depressing (kind of like literary fiction): I do like this aspect of SF don’t get me wrong, seeing how humans could react in different world, how we could live in centuries or just how we could have behave in alternate histories setting, is for me, utterly fascinating even if, 99,9% of the time, it’s not utopian (or when it is, it’s not quite perfect (Too Like The Lightning by Ada Palmer)).

This book is different. Like I said, the plot isn’t really important (it just follows characters working in a spaceship that “builds” wormsholes): the characters are the main focus. At the end of the book, it was very hard to let them go, I wanted to see more of their interactions (and I also wanted to work with them on the Wayfarer).

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet had really interesting ideas and themes such as inter-species relationship, how humans differ and look like the aliens and love. The whole aspect of inter-species relationship was very interesting to read about since I believe that it’s the first time that I encounter it in a novel (that isn’t Star Wars related).

It’s a book about tolerance, sexual freedom and actual life in space. It’s a very good book and, if you’re tired to read only depressing SF about evil corporations, wars, ecological disasters and post-apocalyptic futures, I would highly recommend it!

It reminded me a bit of The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison but for SF fans: the characters are genuinely good and try their best and it’s refreshing after reading dystopians (or grimdark fantasy in the case of The Goblin Emperor!).

However, I do have some issues with it, I won’t talk about all of them because some of them are spoilers but, one the main character is in love with the ship’s AI, Lovey, and he wants the AI to have a physical body (which is possible in this world thanks to body kits). In the book, it never felt right; I thought that the AI agreed to do this only for the human, not because it/she wanted to, it was a bit cringy since I saw that more as emotional blackmail than an actual thought-out decision. It might just be me but I didn’t love this part of the story that much. They were other things that bothered me and lowered a bit my enjoyment of the story.

So, would I like this book to win the Arthur C. Clarke Awards?

Nop. Again it’s a good book, I wouldn’t be mad if it win of course but, Europe At Midnight and The Book of Phoenix are way more interesting in my opinion. A Small Angry Planet is good book but it didn’t offer new ideas or great discussions like Hutcherson’s book for example. Still, I’m glad I read it and I will be reading the sequel/companion, A Closed and Common Orbit when it will come out!

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7 thoughts on “The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Beckie Chambers | Arthur C. Clarke Shortlist Post #4

  1. This is one of the books I tried on the spur of the enthusiastic reviews I read online, but had to abandon (more or less halfway through) because it didn’t exactly suit my tastes: while I love to see crew interactions in this kind of setting, to me it seemed that this crew was getting along far too easily, and that their dealings with each other did not ring true – to me, it was more like wish fulfillment rather than character building.
    But as they say, it’s all a matter of the eye of the beholder… 🙂

    Like

    • I can see why this book isn’t for everyone, all the conflicts/problems are solved very easily but I was in the right mind set for it because I expected something a bit like that. I liked a lot but it’s not a book that is going to stay with me, I already forgot most of what happened and I don’t even remember all the characters… However, it was the right book at the right moment and so, I really enjoyed it ^^

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This was such a charming book. It was nothing like I expected, and I think the dissonance between what it actually was and what I wanted it to be hurt it a bit. Like you said, it doesn’t add anything new, but still I really enjoyed myself. The book reminded me of a season of Star Trek, which is never a bad thing. Now that I know what to expect from this series though, I feel better prepared to go into the next book. I’m looking forward to it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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