A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers. Readalong week No2

Posted On 9 December 2016

Filed under Book Reviews

Comments Dropped 10 responses

I’m away at the moment so this post will be a bit brief with no links and pictures but I still wanted to post if possible so please excuse the brevity.  Today is week 2 of our readalong for a Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers. Now, straight to the Q&A with the customary warning of spoilers. Beware of reading further if you haven’t yet read this as spoilers will definitely be lurking!

1. Sidra has quite the range of emotional (and physical!) crises this week. What do you make of the ways she tries to cope/adjust? Do you think she can come to terms with herself?

I think Sidra can adjust. It may take a little bit of time  but everything is very new to her at the moment and on top of that she needs to be careful all the time. She seems very lonely doesn’t she. Like she’s reaching out for a friend and the whole getting a tattoo experience seems to reflect this. Although she did also have some reasoning behind it. It was interesting to see her finally connect with someone and I felt a bit gutted for her when it all went horribly wrong. It all felt like she was just misbehaving and was a naughty child.

2. How would you choose what memories to delete to save new ones? Is Pepper being sensible or is it an impossible thing to ask?

That’s a difficult question. Mostly because Sidra is to an extent acting like her former self when storage space wasn’t an issue. She isn’t accustomed to the limitations and so it makes choosing difficult. At the end of the day though humans don’t recall everything. Our minds seem to be a little bit selective don’t they and I suppose Sidra will have to do the same (although we don’t really get to pick and choose do we. It’s interesting how we selectively remember the best or the worst bits – the highlights if you will).   Good or bad memories most people seem to remember key points. Sidra is storing everything. She is going to have to learn to filter a little bit or even just be selective. Like. Don’t download a full library of books, keep the ones you really like.   Or maybe don’t learn every language possible, learn the one you need when you need it.

3. What are your first impressions of Owl?

I like Owl. In fact I really like Owl. She’s so caring. Okay. That could be programming but even so I don’t care.  I love her thought processes and the way she looks after Jane.

4. There are lots of big big themes being unpacked as we get to the end of the first part. Which one(s) stand out for you? (How) Is it explored through each timeline?

I guess the main themes for me revolve around the treatment of AIs and clones. They’re there simply to fulfil a purpose and more than that they’re created for a purpose and so it seems to not matter if they’re mistreated. To some people anyway.  If we look at Sidra for example. Why should it be illegal for her to be inside a body kit. She doesn’t seem to be any more dangerous in fact if anything she’s less effective and definitely doesn’t have the same power or control as she would aboard a ship.
I really like that both the stories are very similar in that both characters are learning from scratch how to ‘be’. I also really like that Pepper, who was effectively raised by an AI is now getting to ‘raise’ an AI. There’s definitely a certain sort of symmetry to the story. They’re both like total innocents learning everything anew and I know it sounds crazy but Jane almost comes across as an AI doesn’t she?  She’s very detached at the beginning although at the same time really craving companionship and Sidra seems very similar.

Basically. My thoughts are a bit of a hot mess this week and I don’t think I’m being very coherent so apologies if this is a bit jumbled Also. I’m typing all this from my phone so I also apologise now for any errors.

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10 Responses to “A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers. Readalong week No2”

  1. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I love Owl too. Sometimes I even forget she’s not a real person, but an AI. I mean, she’s just so motherly!

    I’m also fascinated by the different answers this week to the last question. So much food for thought!

    • @lynnsbooks

      Owl is a great character – definitely motherly, and you can see why Pepper would be happy to help out an AI now given her childhood experiences.
      Lynn 😀

  2. Danya

    I didn’t read the full post to avoid spoilers, but I’m really happy to see that you’re enjoying this one Lynn! It’s pretty high priority on my TBR for 2017.

    • @lynnsbooks

      I’m actually liking this one more than the first – just the difference in style for me.
      Lynn 😀

  3. Grace

    I don’t think I’d ever be able to type a full blog post on my phone–that’s impressive!

    • @lynnsbooks

      I thought exactly the same thing. I managed – but barely and I don’t particularly recommend it.
      Lynn 😀

  4. imyril

    Your point about WHY it’s illegal for AIs to be housed in body kits is really interesting. If someone looks like a person and feels like a person, let’s just go ahead and consider them a person. I hadn’t really stepped back and considered this as a metaphor, but uh, it’s hitting me hard now.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, I don’t really see why the AIs can’t be in a body kit – the only thing I could think of is that people are scared in case the AIs “get ideas” but surely they could equally get “ideas” with a whole ship and it’s weapons at their disposal. Or is it because it would be too difficult to distinguish that it’s actually an AI. Again, does it matter??

      • imyril

        Exactly. If I were going to worry I’d worry about the one with weapons systems 😉

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