Author: Becky Chambers
Rating: 4 Stars
Review By: Shana
As a science fiction aficionado, you often find yourself mired in unrelentingly depressing apocalyptic plots, interstellar tales of inter-species genocide, and endless narratives about human technological hubris going awry. The bulk of the better written and well-plotted SF novels, the ones with big ideas and unique points of view, often explore the darker side of advancement and discovery. But every story need not plumb the depths of human (or alien) folly, and every novel need not be ground-breaking or award-winning.
Becky Chambers, in this first of a series, has instead chosen to write in the best tradition of Star Trek--optimistic, strength through diversity and understanding, and humorous. The analogy bears out in that there is not one main and overarching story line, but rather what feels a bit more episodic with a handful of smaller climaxes that act to introduce us to the crew of the Wayfarer and the universe they exist in.
The captain and about half of the crew is human, but there are also three alien crew members and an AI. The book opens with Rosemary, the newest member of the crew, on her way to rendezvous with the Wayfarer. All we know is that she isn't entirely what she seems and that she is trying to escape her past. As we progress in the book Chambers does an excellent job of fleshing out the crew with insights into their histories and personalities, and uses this as a springboard to also help us explore the Galactic Commons which many sapient races belong to.
While this is not a book that belabors ideas over character and story, Chambers still weaves in serious subjects. There are discussions related to inter-species romance, respecting the customs of others, the rights of clones and AI, family and belonging, and friendship. With that, there is action (though not overblown), romance, and hints at galactic political intrigue. This book makes you wish for crew like that of the Wayfarers' and I look forward to the other books in the series (currently two published, a third due out this summer).
My love of reading was sparked in 3rd grade by the promise of personal pan pizzas via the BOOK IT! Program. Hmmmm... any chance that someone might give adults free food for reading? Asking for a friend...