I’d heard the title before, but decided to read The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet for Read Harder’s task 23. I have to admit that the title is intriguing but I hadn’t considered it my kind of sci-fi before. Not that I can really categorize what my kind of sci-fi is, I just thought I knew it when I saw it but these challenges continue to prove me wrong. I suppose that’s part of the point.
The unexpected thing about this one was the world building. I’ve read sci-fi with some pretty amazing world building before, but nothing so absent of crappy cultural judgments. None of the species felt like they were supposed to be representative of species on Earth but even the humans had interesting histories and newer perspectives. The species and cultures played with our cultural norms and our ideas of personal autonomy and gender and what constitutes life, but without being preachy and the characters were tolerant for a variety of reasons. As a big fan of Star Trek and Orville, I appreciated the take this book had with cultures and the way it explores its subjects.
The plot was a little hectic, not quite a quest which is what I was expecting. It seemed like it would be one, but that part never manifested. It felt more like a few episodes of a show like Star Trek that explores the origins and curiosities of several crew members. I look forward to seeing what else Chambers does with the characters and the world in the sequels and how the conflict that is introduced manifests.
Still, because of the cultures and discussions of what is life, it would make a great book for a book club, particularly a feminist one. I’d love to take a closer look at opinions on the species and their cultures and what other people think about them. Has anyone else read it?