The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet - Becky Chambers

Rather pleasantly for the rather preachy genre that is sci-fi, the "small angry planet" in question is not Earth! On the other hand, this book is not short on opinions. It is, in the parlance of cynics, extremely woke. This is no problem, it's rather pleasant to read some sci-fi that's much more about relationships than about emotion-less cardboard cut-outs solving difficult problems.

The story centres on what is effectively an interstellar highway building team, whose job is to punch the wormholes that create express routes through space (my memory's a bit faded - I read this towards the start of my hospital stay, but am only reviewing it now). And of course, they're a rag-tag bunch of misfits. Beings from various different alien races, generally weirdos as far as that race goes.

It's pretty fun, but, man, it's heavy-handed. Everyone works together harmoniously, except the nasty man who had a difficult childhood, who gets into trouble and is graciously rescued by the others. The quirky engineer with ADHD so thick it's basically a solid comes through in a crisis despite their fears. The Alien Races Are a Metaphor; the varied crew members represent the diversity of Californian-kind, working together.

It's cute, it's fun, it's an enjoyable tale. The fate of the galaxy is never in the balance. Spoiler: A computer dies, which makes the crew really sad, but I guess is supposed to be less traumatic for the reader than a biological entity dying. It's a little clunkily obvious, like a sci-fi writing exercise, but frankly I enjoyed it more than, say, Ra - clever hard sci-fi that just missed the whole "entertaining story-telling" aspect.

Posted 2022-05-21.