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Romance and other things

DNF

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet - Becky Chambers

A rollicking space adventure with a lot of heart

When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn't expecting much. The patched-up ship has seen better days, but it offers her everything she could possibly want: a spot to call home, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy, and some distance from her past.

And nothing could be further from what she's known than the crew of the Wayfarer.

From Sissix, the exotic reptilian pilot, to Kizzy and Jenks, the chatty engineers who keep the ship running, to the noble captain Ashby, life aboard is chaotic and crazy—exactly what Rosemary wants. That is until the crew is offered the job of a lifetime tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet. Sure, they'll earn enough money to live comfortably for years, but risking her life wasn't part of the job description.

The journey through the galaxy is full of excitement, adventure, and mishaps for the Wayfarer team. And along the way, Rosemary comes to realize that a crew is a family, and that family isn't necessarily the worst thing in the universe…as long as you actually like them

 

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Review:

Dear Becky Chambers, I saw your book being mentioned on File 770 and couple of commenters seemed to like it so much that they were going to nominate you for next year Campbell award. When I did a little more digging it seemed that the book promised secondary f/f romance between two crew members. And I said once again – *sign me up* and one clicked it. I gave up at about 65% of the book, which I think was more than enough since the whole book is a little over 400 pages long on my Kindle.

I won’t deny that first and foremost my DNF review is the case of unfulfilled expectations, but you see my expectations came from the book being billed in the “space opera” category by Amazon and publishers, so it is not like I formed them at random. I do not expect all scifi books to have a lot of action, but for the book which claims to be *space opera* I sure do expect that. I even went to Wiki and checked my “space opera” definition to make sure I remembered it correctly.

“Space opera is a subgenre of science fiction that emphasizes space warfare, melodramatic adventure, set mainly or entirely in outer space and often romance (heroic literature). It usually involves conflict between opponents possessing advanced abilities, futuristic weapons and other sophisticated technology”

So, at the place in the story when I said I could not do it any longer, the first significant action that was actually influenced by war taking place elsewhere , finally took place . And when I say action, I mean one of “Wayfarer” crew members helping other ship to deactivate the mines they got installed by somebody else. Don’t get me wrong that was a lot more excitement than I experienced throughout previous sixty percent of the book, but it still did not arise nearly to the level of action I usually see in the “space operas”. Before this one I actually held hope that something dangerous and exciting was happening at around forty percent of the book and maybe our team will suffer some serious damage. Alas, it was ridiculous, but it actually ended almost peacefully , except their captain getting not very serious wound and it actually kind of was his fault.

“Did you touch your face at all while you were talking to the Akarak captain? Like you are doing now?”

“Um, yeah, maybe.” Ashby pushed through the fog, trying to remember. “I don’t know, it all happened so fast.”

“Something like this, maybe?”

“Rosemary rubbed her eyes with her palm, as if she had a headache.

“Possibly. Yeah. Yeah, I think I did.”

Rosemary grimaced. “That explains it. See, this ---“ She tucked her thumb back and held her fingers straight and flat, making her hand into a rough imitation of a Harmagian dactylus. She flexed her hand over her eyes, twice.” – is a really offensive thing to Harmagians. And those Akaraks’ gestures and dialect were very Harmagian – influenced.”

“What’s it mean?”

Rosemary cleared her throat. “It means you’d rather rub shit in your eyes than keep talking to them.”

I think my first warning sign of the author subverting the genre was the fact that Captain Ashby does not allow weapons on his ship. Granted they are civilians, they are tunneling wormholes through space and not fighting, but there is still danger in this galaxy, even if the war only rages in very few spaces from what I understand. Moreover when they get this new job of tunneling to the planet for the species which only recently joined “Galactic commons” and considered pretty dangerous, captain Ashby’s “no weapons” stand became more than a little ridiculous for me.

I should probably backtrack, because I started my review with complaints and I can clearly see how other people can find a lot of things to like about it. It is well written, the author makes a very long attempt to do a detailed world – building and portrays very nice very interesting characters. Heck *I* really liked the crew of Wayfarer when the author was introducing me to them through Rosemary. I think that in order to avoid straight out information dumping, the author instead makes Rosemary to learn about who her teammates are and what are their customs (and thank goodness not all of them are human and non- human ones really do not look like a little bit changed humans). And there was a lot and lot of information about their customs and how to treat the other species. A lot.

So, yes, I really liked these guys, until the whole lot of information bored me silly. I love the character based stories, I liked character studies. And I absolutely welcome well done characters who also participate in the awesome adventures. This book fell far short of awesome adventure and I want *space opera* to provide me that. If there was one in the last 35% of the book, I will never know.

DNF.