The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

book cover of The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet

This was a fun, smart book. We start with Rosemary Harper, starting a new job as the clerk aboard the scrappy tunnelling ship, the Wayfarer. She’s introduced to the ship’s diverse and endearing crew, and the lot of them go off on adventures together as they wind their way to one big tunnelling project, where they’ll punch a wormhole through space to connect a new member of the Galactic Confederation by fast travel to the rest.

The book is not plot-heavy, and tension levels are mostly pretty low throughout. This means it might not be to everyone’s taste, but I found it a light-hearted enjoyable read. This is not an original comparison by any means, but the vibe reminded me very much of the TV show Firefly. The reason to read is the great dynamics between the crew and learning about this intricate sci-fi setting, and not so much any convoluted plot.

And oh man, is it an interesting setting. It’s set in a confederation with a whole range of different species as members, with their own biologies and social structures and cultural attitudes. I found the Aandrisks particularly interesting, as an affectionate reptilian species probably the most different from humanity of the ones in this book, but there were many others. You also get snippets of history, including about wars, but for the most part these things are indeed history; they’re in the past. The overwhelming stance of the book is that despite their differences, members of different species can learn about and accept one another, become friends, and occasionally even become lovers. It’s such a wholesome, optimistic view of the universe and I’m completely here for it.

That’s not to say that our intrepid crew never faces hardship or loss, of course. They do. But at least it never feels like the whole universe is out to get them, just some isolated elements in an otherwise-welcoming galaxy. If anything, it kind of feels more realistic that way.

Overall, this was a refreshingly uplifting read. Highly recommended to those who like people and science fiction.

Books in the Wayfarers series

  1. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (you are here)
  2. A Closed and Common Orbit
  3. Record of a Spaceborn Few
  4. The Galaxy, and the Ground Within (TBC)


a cartoony avatar of Jessica Smith is a socialist and a feminist who loves animals, books, gaming, and cooking; she’s also interested in linguistics, history, technology and society.