A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers, readalong week 1

closed-and-commonYesterday was the first post for our readalong of A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers.  Sorry I’m a bit late with this posting but I’ve been a bit laid low with a bad cold:

Here’s the schedule:

Week 1: Friday 2nd December – Start of Part 1 up to Page 94 (“…yellow, silver, white…”), hosted by Over the Effing Rainbow
Week 2: Friday 9th December – Page 95 (Jane, Age 10 “Jane was still tired…”) to End of Part 1, hosted by imyril at There’s Always Room For One More
Week 3: Friday 16th December – all of Part 2, hosted by Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Week 4: Friday 23rd December – Part 3 to End, hosted by Mogsy at The BiblioSanctum


To the Q&A with the customary spoiler warning!  Be warned folks, spoilers will be lurking.

1. So this story picks up more or less where The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet left off, but rather than having an ensemble cast on an adventure, it seems this story is much more intimately focused on Lovelace (later named Sidra) and ‘Jane 23’. What’s your initial response to this shift in the narrative style between books? Is it one you appreciate or do you think you’ll miss the ensemble aspect (assuming you’ve read Small Angry Planet)?

I’m enjoying this style very much to be honest.  Both of the characters are easy to read about and the difference in style for both works really well.  We have the flashbacks to Jane 23 which for me is making for a fascinating story and then we are experiencing Sidra’s reactions to her new body which are also really interesting to read about.  Very intriguing way to write the story.

2. Sidra’s first experiences of living confined to a body mean that readers get to see her new home, and her new world, through the eyes of someone who’s never experienced it in such a way before. What aspects of Sidra’s first days ‘on the ground’ on Coriol stand out to you, and why?

I think this is a great idea.  It allows the author to share lots of new things with us because we’re experiencing all these new things at the same time as Sidra.  It allows for information to be given in a way that isn’t resorting to huge info dumps or great chunks of dialogue that come off as unnatural.  I love the way Sidra’s tale is told in a detached way.  Like she talks about herself as though her body is just a ship or housing.  In terms of her first days on Coriol I think what stood out for me the most was the way Sidra experiences anxiety if she can’t really see things properly.  The way she jumps when somebody approaches her from behind (because she can’t see them beforehand).  The whole idea of getting used to being much more restricted is interesting to observe and really well done.

3. The POV switches regularly between Sidra in the present and Jane 23, a clone raised in some form of slave labour with many others of her kind, when she was a 10-year old girl. What do you make of Jane and her upbringing at this point, and where do you think her story might be going from here? Does her story interest you as much as Sidra’s (or vice versa)?

I find the Jane 23 story really intriguing to be honest and if forced to choose I’d say that aspect is the most interesting to me so far.  The way all these girls are being kept and used as slave labour.  It’s really awful and I’m curious to see whether anything happens to the camp after ‘Jane’ finally makes her getaway.  Clearly these girls are all clones and the camp has an ‘illegal’ type feel – to me anyway.  It puts me in mind a little of Cloud Atlas which also has a theme concerning the use of clones as little more than slaves and with no real rights or worth in society.  And the ‘mothers’ scary, brrr.  Faceless AI who can move fast.  I hate to think what ending Jane 64 met with.

4. In general, what’s stood out the most to you about these chapters so far, and why? Has anything raised questions or curiosity, or particularly turned you off? Discuss your favourite bits!

I think what stands out to me most so far is the difference in storytelling style between this and the first book.  And not only in terms of following the two main pov narratives.  Looking back at LWtaSAP the crew and their adventures had a really, almost warm and cosy glow or atmosphere, there was all the banter and the light hearted camaraderie between them all and even if some of the characters didn’t get along it had an almost homelike family feel.  Here we’re reading along with Sidra who is coming to terms with a whole new way of ‘being’ and also reading the back story of Jane.  Both are quite lonely and sad feeling.  Not in a way that puts me off or makes the reading dour, as I said above, I’m finding this quite fascinating at the moment – even though I have no idea at this point where the story is going in terms of plot – I’m just enjoying the more up close and personal feel to it all.

Favourite bits – I enjoyed Sidra’s first experience of a party, reading about her first introduction to alcohol and the images that come along with the experience. In terms of Jane – I really like the part that we just reached where having escaped whatever those monsters were that were chasing her, she finds herself on board some sort of capsule with an AI, and the AI decides to drop the numbers from her name – it’s a small thing but really quite touching!

Favourite quote:

‘And seriously, anybody working in a job that doesn’t let you take a nap when you need to should get a new job.  Present company excluded of course.  This!! (apparently I need to look for a new job – no naps in my current employ!)


5 Responses to “A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers, readalong week 1”

  1. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I am enjoying this style so much more too, if I’m to be honest. I had a great time with The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet and loved the book, but somehow I never truly “got” the ensemble cast format or the way that was handled. It reminded me too much of watching a whole season of a show, when really what I was hoping for was closer to a movie, with a concentrated focus on fewer protagonists as well as the main conflict. It feels like we’re getting something a lot more like that here!

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yes exactly. The first book was a series of adventures (made me think of Star TreK!). I do prefer this format.
      Lynn 😀

  2. imyril

    The Mothers give me the shivers. I don’t like to think what happened to Jane 46 – but there’s also that throwaway comment of how Jane 23 doesn’t know where the older girls go.


  3. A Closed and Common Orbit: across the uncanny valley – x+1

    […] Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog […]

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