The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers, readalong week No.3 #RRSciFiMonth

Today is week three of a readalong of The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers.  The readalong has been organised by Lisa at Over The Effing Rainbow and is part of this year’s Sci-Fi Month.  The details for the readalong are here and the schedule looks like this:

Week 1 (Friday, November 6th): “Transit” to “The Job” – hosted by Over The Effing Rainbow
Week 2 (Friday, November 13th): “Port Coriol” to “Cricket” – hosted by Chris @ Galleywampus
Week 3 (Friday, November 20th): “The Last War” to “October 25” – hosted by Claire Rousseau
Week 4 (Friday, November 27th): “Heresy” to end – hosted by Over The Effing Rainbow

All welcome.

So, to the questions, with a timely reminder before we start that the following may contain spoilers:

1. There is a lot of focus on some of the different alien races in this section, from Dr Chef recounting the story of his people’s decline and Sissix introducing Rosemary to her families, to the surprise visit from the Aeluons and the much less welcome search by the Quelin. What are your thoughts on the various beliefs systems we encounter? Does anything specific pique your interest more than the rest?

These were all really interesting little glimpses into the different alien races we’re encountering and I think all deserve a mention.  It was lovely to see Sissix amongst her own people and to witness how comfortable and happy she was.  Their family systems are quite fascinating but are clearly very effective for them.  I really liked the explanations – for example, the way the older members look after the children – because they have more knowledge and experience (not to mention patience ) – and also because the younger members want to go off exploring.  You have to admit that the reasoning really stacked up.    I just really enjoyed that whole episode to be honest.  The Aeluons – they seem a very calm, almost detached race – and yet that’s not really true as we see through Pei – perhaps that feeling arises simply because they communicate differently. Another enjoyable story – bit scary having all those bombs on board their ship.  And the Quelin, well they didn’t really come out in a very good light did they.  It just goes to show that you can simply look at the different races on a planet or you can go into space and look at all sorts of different species, but, at the end of the day, you’ll find a certain element who treat others wrong.  Course I can’t speak for all Quelin – as this could be a small group and not representative and I wouldn’t like to tar everyone with the same brush?? (Although that didn’t really come across here).

2. Ashby gets the chance to give Pei a tour of his ship and introduce her to his crew, meanwhile Jenks and Lovey decide not to risk transferring the AI into a body just yet, and Rosemary initiates a relationship of sorts with Sissix. Were you happy to see any of these developments, or not so fussed?

I think Jenks and Lovey made a good decision – based on very sound reasoning and actually I thought it was really touching they they don’t want to risk losing each other or damaging what they have now.  It was lovely and at the same time a little bit sad that the current legal system prevents them from taking that step but who knows…  Pei and Ashby, again, a forbidden relationship!  It was again very touching to see how Pei was just as affected by Ashby and his crew’s recent scrape with danger as he usually is by hers.  It makes the whole relationship seem more balanced – it’s also interesting that quite a few people know about their relationship and nobody thinks it’s wrong – things need to be put in order don’t they!  Finally, Sissix and Rosemary.  I think at the moment they’re absolutely perfect for each other and they seem to be going into this with their eyes open which is a good plan, after all they both have things to learn about and from each other.  I kind of get the feeling that Rosemary’s family is maybe very cold and calculating and she seems absolutely enamoured with the way Sissix is so open and demonstrative about her feelings and I think it will be lovely for Rosemary to experience that warmth and Sissix of course is missing some TLC being so far removed from her family so it will be great for her to be on the receiving end of some loving attention too.  I must admit I think Sissix is a great character.  Really fascinating and I love the way she’s written.

3. Cloning technology exists and is used in many sci-fi universes, but the GC does not look kindly on it and it is abomination to the Quelin. Did the reveal of Corbin’s nature change your view of the character?

I don’t think the revelation of Corbin being a clone changed my view of him, I didn’t really have a bad opinion of him – I just think he doesn’t interact well with others.  What really made very interesting reading was the conversation between him and his father which I thought was very revealing and quite sad – for both Corbin and his father to be locked into that kind of relationship and also, not really wanting to hurt each other but doing so anyway.  Corbin has a lot to come to terms with now so that will be interesting to observe.  I’m also keen to see if this changes the way he interacts with the crew – particularly Sissix.

4. Each chapter told a different and fairly self-contained story, without any big cliffhangers from one to the next. How did you feel about the pacing of the story so far? Are you satisfied with how long the long journey is taking or are you impatient for the crew to finally get to their destination and do some tunnelling? 

Well, it’s completely different than I expected to be honest. Not in a bad way but I think I was thinking more in terms of grand space opera type sci fi whereas what we have here feels more like little clusters of individual stories that run together as the travel progresses – it feels kind of more like little watching individual series of star trek rather than watching a full blown movie (if that makes sense).  I think I would have enjoyed a grand epic type of tale but that being said I’m an absolute sucker for characterisation and the cast in the story really get a chance to shine and show you their true selves.  I’m keen to get to the destination as well of course just to see what’s afoot but at the moment I think the pacing is great.


10 Responses to “The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers, readalong week No.3 #RRSciFiMonth”

  1. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I was really relieved that Jenks and Lovey are being so sensible about this. And it was a real eye opener that Lovey didn’t really feel as strongly about it in the first place. She just wanted to make Jenks happy, aw!

    And yeah, more people than we thought knew about Pei and Ashby. It seriously begs the question, what is the Aeulon’s problem with interspecies relationships?! There are quite a few logical inconsistencies like this in the book that really bug me, but I understand why the author chose to do it this way so she could focus more on relationships rather than action.

    Which brings us to the last question. I’m right there with you. It TOTALLY reminds me of a season of Star Trek! Like when you go through the ensemble cast getting more insight into each person’s life with each week’s story? I’m also okay with the way the story is now, but I’m pretty eager for things to get going too.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, it was a relief that Lovey wanted a body only for Jenk’s sake – I was having all sorts of dubious thoughts and I’m glad to be proved wrong.
      I really don’t understand why the Aeulons have a problem with interspecies relationships. It just feels unrealistic not to mention difficult to keep a lid on. Perhaps we’ll find out more in the next installment.
      And, yep, it even feels like we keep giving differing amounts of focus to each character. I must admit that with only 25% left of the book I’m almost resigned to maybe not having heaps of action. I don’t mind tbh but it’s not quite what I first envisaged.
      Lynn 😀

  2. Lisa (@EffingRainbow)

    I hadn’t considered the Aeluons question before now, to be honest – but this is the fun of rereading! You get to pick up on things you missed the first time, or to dig deeper into what you enjoyed and figure out why this works or that doesn’t. I kind of agree now about the logic of the Aeluon view of interspecies relationships… Unless Pei and her crew really are a small handful of extreme exceptions to that society’s rule? Possible, but as a few people are saying, it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense…

    Still, I can appreciate that we do get a relationship between her and Ashby out of it. I do think Pei is interesting, and the Aeluon biology is definitely fascinating! The idea of not needing a verbal language among your own kind because they can read how you feel and what you want to say just by looking at you… Well, OK, admittedly it’s a little bit unnerving, but still fascinating in a science-y way!

    • @lynnsbooks

      That’s the beauty of rereads and readalongs isn’t it. The banter and conversation teases out so much more about the book. I think readalongs are great for developing a better understanding and getting a more rounded view taking on board other’s opinions – and so definitely thanks for hosting this one!
      I think the Aeluon’s are fascinating and I hope we learn more – particularly about the restrictions on inter=species relationships.
      That form of communicating – definitely unnerving.
      Is there a second book planned for this??
      Lynn 😀

  3. proxyfish

    Excellent points! And looks like you were right about Corbin after all! Hopefully we’ll see some sort of change in his character to reflect his experience but I wouldn’t want him to change too much. It would be a shame if he lost all his snark so perhaps just a bit friendlier to the crew would do!

    I loved how sweet the Jenks and Lovey storyline played out. If she had really wanted a body above all things then I would have been disappointed but seeing as she was only doing it to please Jenks it worked out very well indeed! And of course it was very sweet that they didn’t want to risk losing each other.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Well, not sure I was right about Corbin exactly – he is a bit of an a-hole isn’t he! But, I just figure he has issues. I don’t imagine he will change too much to be honest – he’ll probably have a grumpy and grudging form of gratitude – although I do think it will have opened his eyes up that his crew stuck up for him and came back to help.
      Lovey – so relieved about that relationship tbh.
      Lynn 😀

      • proxyfish

        Haha, definitely still an a-hole! He could even go even further off the mark and completely resent Sissix for having helped him! That would make things interesting (not that I want it to – I love Sissix too much!)

      • @lynnsbooks

        He could definitely turn resentful – I’m hoping for a bit more happiness though. Like maybe it’s okay to like others! (I don’t reckon he had many friends growing up :()
        Lynn 😀

  4. imyril

    “little clusters of individual stories”

    I’ve found the whole experience very intimate – we’ve got to peek in on the personal stories and day to day tribulations of the crew rather than a big galactic uberplot, and I’ve loved it. Like you, I didn’t know what to expect – but no regrets. I’m really going to miss the Wayfarer…

    • @lynnsbooks

      I’m going to miss the Wayfarer too – I definitely think there’s a lot of scope for more stories from this crew so I have BC considers writing more.
      Lynn 😀

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