“No sapient could sustain happiness all of the time, just as no one could live permanently within anger, or boredom, or grief.”
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is an adult science-fiction novel that follows the story of a crew aboard the Wayfarer, a ship whose job it is to tunnel through space. This isn’t your average sci-fi novel – it doesn’t consist of twists and turns and epic space battles but focuses more on the crew and their characterisation. This may put some people off but this book was everything and more, in my opinion and has definitely become an all-time favourite of mine.
This book is definitely not plot-driven. It centres more on the characters separately and also as a whole. It is the story of their journey and our journey as we are welcomed into their world. We see their world as Rosemary does, with fresh eyes. We learn with her and eventually, we even feel accepted into the family alongside her.
One of my favourite dynamics in any book is family dynamics and this book had it. You have this crew of very different people, not just their species but their backgrounds, their beliefs, their genders, their sexualities and yet they form this beautiful space family. Rosemary, a Martian woman trying to escape her past. Sissix, an Aandrisk pilot and the only one of her kind on the ship. Ashby, the Captain of the Wayfarer and also a pacifist dealing with his distant love. Ohan, a Sianat pair who can navigate the stars. Dr Chef, a Grum who basically feeds and looks after the crew. Kizzy and Jenks, the ship’s version of mechanics and even Lovey, a sentient AI who runs the ship and dreams of having a human body. Together, they are the space version of misfits but their relationships transcend the planets they travel through.
Gender pronouns are not only important in this world but they are also normalised. A person/species isn’t labelled a gender until they confirm it and some species even identify as both a male and a female during their lifespan. Ohan is referred to as ‘they’ due to being a Sianat pair without question. I was beaming like an idiot! This is a sci-fi book that not only deals with the intergalactic but also with modern-day subjects without preaching. Even racial slurs are touched upon as this world has their own version of them. In one of the very first chapters, a crew member is shut down by the Captain after using a slur.
We find out about the history of every species in this world without info-dumping!! We find out everything from their diets, religions, how they raise children, how family dynamics work even their individual languages. I’ve never known a book to include so much information without it being in big, boring chunks. I was so invested in each species and their differences. Something else I loved is that humans are probably the least common species in this book and they are the ones who are often questioned. This was such an interesting touch to any other book ever, for once humans aren’t at the centre. Overall, in no way do I wish this book could have had more of a plot and that surprises me. Discovering the Wayfarer in this book was kind of like discovering Hogwarts, you just wish it was real and the people were real because it feels like home. I was emotionally connected to the family that lived within its walls and am so desperately excited for the sequel.
Have you read this book? What were your thoughts?
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