Last Updated on December 20, 2022 by ThoughtsStained
Ah, it’s been so long since I read a Becky Chambers novel, friends! As we all know, her first book I read, A Long Way To a Small, Angry Planet, destroyed me. Of course, I didn’t mean for it to take so long to read the next book in the Wayfarer’s series. But, that’s also not surprising, is it? For me, A Closed and Common Orbit was a fascinating book that I certainly enjoyed. Not as much as Angry Planet, mind, but wow, am I just awed by Chambers constantly.
Publisher: Harper Voyager | Release Date: 2016 | Pages: 365
Age Range: Adult | Genre: Science Fiction | Format: Paperback | Source: Bought
Lovelace was once merely a ship’s artificial intelligence. When she wakes up in an new body, following a total system shut-down and reboot, she has no memory of what came before. As Lovelace learns to negotiate the universe and discover who she is, she makes friends with Pepper, an excitable engineer, who’s determined to help her learn and grow.
Together, Pepper and Lovey will discover that no matter how vast space is, two people can fill it together.
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet introduced readers to the incredible world of Rosemary Harper, a young woman with a restless soul and secrets to keep. When she joined the crew of the Wayfarer, an intergalactic ship, she got more than she bargained for – and learned to live with, and love, her rag-tag collection of crewmates.
A Closed and Common Orbit is the stand-alone sequel to Becky Chambers’ beloved debut novel The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet and is perfect for fans of Firefly, Joss Whedon, Mass Effect and Star Wars.
On the Page
- Abuse and neglect
- Animal attack
- Animal death (wild dogs)
- Body modifications (tattoos)
- Captivity and confinement
- Child abuse
- Depression and dissociation
- Physical injuries
- Racism (between alien species and human/tech)
Content warnings are written up by me, unless specified. Subject to being an incomplete list, though guided by referencing this list and trying to highlight as many as I can identify.
- Learning Pepper’s backstory: I absolutely loved how the story was structured, seeing POVs from Pepper, Jane, Lovelace and Sidra. My favorite in particular was reading about Pepper’s childhood. It was as fascinating as it was harrowing.
- The intricate way knowledge is presented: Tied with the above, I thought it was masterful how Chambers determined and presented knowledge. To avoid spoilers, there were instances where a character might not understand the way the world worked. Chambers did an amazing job showing what that growth period of learning about the world looked like. From a writing craft standpoint, I was blown away.
- Queer queer queer queer: My favorite aspect of the first book remained here. It’s a queernorm universe with entire species who use neopronouns and are shown on the page without apology. I love it.
- Narrow in scope: I think an aspect I was missing in this book was how it narrowed so much in scope, compared to Angry Planet. With the first book, we get a lot of characters and a found family feel that I adored. I missed that here. That’s not to say that this wasn’t a fantastic book that narrows in on two characters, their pasts and their future navigating things together. Unfortunately, it was impossible for me not to compare the two. And, in that comparison, I felt the change in scope “lesser” than the strengths of the found family narrative in book one.
- Missing other perspectives (Jenks): I know the purpose of this story isn’t to tell us at all about Jenks. And again, for spoiler purposes from book one, I won’t go into it. But damn if I didn’t wish to know how he was doing.
A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers doesn’t know what second book syndrome is. Which I think is really amazing, because while there are elements that make it clear it’s a Chambers book, I felt it was so drastically different from the first. Yet, aside from a few things I missed from the first book, I still loved this one for so many similar–but also new–reasons.
If you aren’t reading Chambers, friends, you’re missing out. Heavily.
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