26. Wild Card: The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
List Progress: 10/30
I intend to use my Wild Card slots as an opportunity and a personal challenge to read more contemporary sci-fi and fantasy this year, and therefore had to start off with Becky Chamber’s The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. This space-faring tale has been recommended to me so many times that I will confess I had developed a bit of hype-backlash and was hesitant to start it. But I am so glad I did, because this book turned out to have exactly the type of energy I need right now.
A good litmus test for how well you’d enjoy this book are two simple questions: “Do you like Star Trek?” and “Do you like Firefly/Cowboy Beebop?” Small Angry Planet wears its space opera influences on its sleeves, being the story of an inter-species crew of space-tunnelers on a long haul journey through a galaxy made up of different sentient alien species in a collectively governed Galactic Commons. These are well-worn tropes, but ones that I’m still excited to see a new spin on.
And beyond the content, Small Angry Planet is the book most like a television show that I’ve ever seen. Each chapter has its own mini-arc, usually in a different setting along the journey and from the point of view of a different character, making the crew of the ship a true ensemble cast, each with their occasional focus episode. Adapting this book into a show would be incredibly easy, and I’m honestly excited to see someone try, because this is good material. Very little of it is groundbreaking, but the alien species are inventive and the characters lovable, and I genuinely cared about what happened to them by the end. The pacing is sprightly and upbeat, with occasional parts that feel rushed, but nothing too egregious. And at the end of the day, it’s fun. Sometimes fun is what you need.
The book has two sequels, though neither appear to be about the main characters of Small Angry Planet, and while that is probably the best choice for the narrative as a whole, I will certainly miss my time with Rosemary, Ashby, Sissix, Dr. Chef, Kizzy, Jenks, Corbin, Ohan, and Lovey.
Would I Recommend It: Yes, especially if you’re currently in lockdown.