A few weeks ago, I devoured Becky Chambers‘ novel The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet which was longlisted for the 2016 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction.
Rosemary Harper is the newest crew member of the Wayfarer, a tunneling ship. While she has obviously traveled through open space before, Rosemary has spent most of her life planetside and the idea of living in this new environment is making her feel a little uneasy. Fortunately, most of the crew give her a warm welcome, especially the talkative and excited mechanic Kizzy, the friendly pilot Sissix and the big-hearted cook Dr Chef.
Rosemary’s addition to the mixed-species crew proves to be of value soon because the Wayfarer is offered a bigger job than usual. They have to travel to a far-away planet to build a hyperspace tunnel from there. On the way, they have to deal with all kinds of species and Rosemary who is well-read and open-minded, shows that these traits can be of great importance for the outcome of their job.
Even though The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet is set in the distant future in space with planets and galaxies full of species created from Becky Chambers’ imagination, this novel is about current issues. It doesn’t matter if it’s different species or different nationalities that have to deal with each other, the strategies for successful communication and negotiation are always the same. This is what the crew of the Wayfarer has to learn the hard way.
The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet is more than your usual Science Fiction novel. It is a sociological study that deals with interspecies communication, with prejudices, customs and culture. Even though Rosemary lives in the future out there in space, the problems she faces are the same as ours. The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet is a reminder of what is important if we want to continue to live a peaceful life.