The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers, readalong week No.4 #RRSciFiMonth

Today is the final week of our 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.

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

1. Let’s start with the Toremi, since we’ve waited this long to get to them! As we’ve been discussing for a while, we do get to learn more about the Toremi, about their culture and how they think and behave. In light of what happens when the Wayfarer reaches Hedra Ka, what’s your take on the Toremi now? Are the GC right to abandon their negotiations or could there have been a chance to make something of it?

At the end of the day the GC didn’t really know enough about the Toremi did they?  Basically their culture and ways are very different and, whilst there’s nothing wrong with being different, I wonder whether they’ll ever be compatible.  I think the GC were too busy thinking of the benefits of this agreement and not enough time on how, or whether, they could make it work.  The motivations were frankly wrong and it all felt a little rushed.  Plus the snapshot we saw of the Toremi before they met with the Wayfarer crew seemed to show that not all of them were content with the agreement with the GC and it seems like their response to disagreement, whether between themselves or others, is violence!  I don’t know, it’s a difficult one, partly because I’m not quite sure what motivated the Toremi to ever want such an agreement in the first place.  Perhaps they could both make it work in the future but for the moment I would say not.  The lack of knowledge and understanding and the risk of causing offence and the resulting bloodshed are too great.

2. A visit to a Solitary Sianat colony in “Heresy” provides a potential cure for Ohan’s illness, but they make it fairly clear they don’t want it – though there may be some debate about whether or not Ohan is in their right mind… Corbin takes matters into his own hands in that respect, and he does it in a crucial moment following the attack on the Wayfarer. Do you think Corbin did the right thing?

Well, yes and no.  Yes, because of the way Ohan responded and acted at the end of the story.  He seemed happy and he wanted to stay with the crew so in that respect I think Corbin’s decision was good.  I suppose you could say that Corbin did this with selfish reasons, keeping Ohan alive because the crew would suffer if another member of their team died – but really, his intent was not bad.  Then again, no, because he took away Ohan’s rights and ability to choose.  Now, I’m going to have a bit of an argument with myself.  Okay, Corbin did take away Ohan’s ability to choose, but, if Ohan’s mental capacity was being affected by the illness wouldn’t that be the right thing to do?  If Ohan couldn’t make the choice due to mental issues then I suppose somebody would have to do that for him.  At the end of the day you wouldn’t just let somebody die if they weren’t able to reasonably make that decision – would you? On the whole I’m going with yes, primarily because if it was me and I wasn’t in the right mind to make the decision I think I’d sooner somebody make that decision and keep me alive!  And now, Ohan is having cooking lessons with Dr Chef – so it’s all good!

3. Ohan survives the attack on the ship, but Lovey (as we know her) doesn’t. Were you at all prepared for what happened to the AI? And in light of all that, do you think Pepper’s offered solution was the right one?

I really didn’t see that coming at all and it really was so sad.  But, I think Pepper’s solution was good and I do think it was the right choice.  Lovey could have stayed on the ship – and Jenks would constantly be reminded of what they had, and maybe even try to recreate it.  But the circumstances that led to Lovey becoming the character she was could never be duplicated, they were unique and all the crew contributed towards the way her character developed.  We do lose people we love and we have to come to terms with it and it would be pretty awful, for example, to think that somebody you loved had died but then the body still lived with a different personality inside – it’s the same thing here, Lovey doesn’t have a body as such, she is part of the ship but once she was reset it was no longer the Lovey that everyone knew but a different personality altogether living inside the ship.  Plus, it felt like it would be a good choice for Lovey to be honest.  Pepper seemed to be making her a really good offer.

4. This one is less of a “thinky” question and more of a “wrap up” one, but I’m curious for your answers – now that we’ve finished the story, what scenes/moments do you remember best as your favourites, if any?

Well, I’m obviously a sucker for the happier moments to be honest and these were thankfully scattered liberally throughout.  I think my favourite parts of the story were the introductions to the crew, watching the dynamics between them all and seeing the relationships grow.  Sissix was undoubtedly my favourite character and I think that’s simply because she was so loving and affectionate – it’s difficult to not like a character with that type of nature.

Thanks to Lisa for organising this readalong and to all the other participants for all the thought provoking discussion.  Stars! It’s been a blast!

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8 Responses to “The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers, readalong week No.4 #RRSciFiMonth”

  1. Sharry

    Stars indeed! What better way to end a month of reading than with A Long Way to a Small Angry planet 😀

    I agree with you – this GC-Toremi alliance was much too rushed. The GC doesn’t have a good grasp on Toremi culture or thinking. You totally hit the nail on the head when you called them out for letting their greed rush them into this agreement before everyone was ready.

    And about Corbin and Ohan…I’m so torn about this question! Knowing that Ohan appears happier and healthier now that he is cured, I guess it somewhat justifies what Corbin did. But also, Ohan refused the cure because he feels the Whisperer is part of who he is. So, isn’t Corbin in some ways killing a part of his identity? I can’t make up my mind on this, but I am happy that Ohan seems happy, now.

    And Lovey. *oh*. It makes me so sad. Especially when she told Jenks about that secret directory…AI or human, it doesn’t matter, it hurts!!

    And yes, Sissix has undoubtedly become my favorite character of the crew as well. I’ve never felt so warmed up by someone so cold-blooded 😛 Lover her!

    • @lynnsbooks

      I know what you mean about Corbin and Ohan – I literally talked myself round and round in circles over the right and wrong of it. Even the crew were divided and in fact I left that answer to last because I knew I’d keep changing my mind. I think there is an argument to say that some of Ohan’s identity has been in lost in the process and that is definitely a shame, and I don’t really like that he didn’t have a say in whether he was cured or not. I hate the thought of losing control like that or having someone remove it from you. But, at the end of it I see Ohan now appearing to be happy and so I have to go with that and the fact that I’m glad he’s still with the crew. It’s a very difficult question to answer though isn’t it. I would hate to have to make a judgement call like that!
      And poor Lovey – it was cunning of the author to give us something similar almost to Ohan because Lovey also suffered a loss of identity didn’t she! Such a sad story. I really didn’t see that coming at all.
      Go Sissix!
      Lynn 😀

      • Sharry

        Lynn – totally true about Lovey and Ohan. They both lost a piece of their identities 😥 I kept hoping that maybe Jenks or someone could preserve that secret directory and the hard-restarted Lovelace would see them and not wipe out the old Lovey’s installation!

      • @lynnsbooks

        I know – it was just so sad – but I guess the author felt like she need at least one casualty – kind of sad it had to be the AI but there it is, and at the end of the day I couldn’t choose another member of the crew either that I would want to lose, because I wanted them all to be okay.
        Lynn 😀

    • Lisa (@EffingRainbow)

      I think the choice to “kill” Lovey was a pretty clever one, for all that it’s left us feeling all the things, because that’s maybe kind of the point? It raises a lot of questions about where that line is between human and not, and she might not have had human biology but she had the personality and she was capable of love. You could argue that that’s enough, and so why shouldn’t we feel the same sadness at her loss as we would for a human?

      I agree about Corbin and Ohan; I cannot make up my mind just how I feel about what Corbin did, but again, I think that’s a good outcome, because this really isn’t a black-or-white situation, is it?

      I also agree about the Toremi situation; that alliance was handled poorly, and far too soon, if it should even have been attempted at all…

      • @lynnsbooks

        Yes, Chambers was very clever wasn’t she. And she made us feel so much!
        Lynn 😀

  2. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I had a feeling what happened with Lovey was coming, mostly because that story line needed a resolution after Jenks scrapped his body kit plan, and unfortunately any kind of “neat and tidy” closure was going to come in a shitty package. It was still a punch in the gut though 😦

    • @lynnsbooks

      You’re right – I couldn’t really see how Chambers was going to resolve the Lovey story really so I suppose it was sort of inevitable. Definitely still a gut punch.
      Lynn 😀

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