Review: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is a fun, breezy book that feels like an eccentric Star Trek episode. The characters are bright and quirky, so if you’re in the mood for a story about goofy people getting along in a sci-fi setting, you should pick this up.

A ragtag crew in a rickety spaceship are tasked with creating a wormhole near a planet populated by an exceptionally warlike race. Most of the story is the adventures the crew has as they travel to the planet (hence the book’s title).

There are some issues that keep me from giving The Long Way a full-throated recommendation. Several of the chapters feel unnecessary, and the book’s ending was a little lackluster. Few of the aliens in the book feel actually alien, but rather like humans in costumes. This was so off-putting that I stopping reading the book a couple times before picking it up again. If you’re in the mood for hard SF, this is not your jam.

Recommendation: If you’re in the mood for lighter SF fare, check it out.

4 thoughts on “Review: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

  1. I think I enjoyed it more than you did. Your Star Trek episode analogy is a good one and it’s definitely lighter fare. I didn’t find the book in need of more editing. Like you, I found the ending acceptable, but not thrilling. You’re right that the aliens were largely humans with a thin veneer of exotic. This did not bother me much, though. Each of the aliens did at least have their own unique personality.

    If you were ambivalent about The Long Way, I recommend avoiding the other two books in the series. They’re only loosely connected, sharing the universe and some characters, but the storylines of each stands alone. I thought they were not bad, but not quite as good as the first one.

  2. I almost put it down several times because there was enough plot for a short story, but not for a book. 90% of it was devoted to character building and 8% to world building. The idea that they were drilling holes in the universe was appealing. The dual creature who calculated their course while they were doing their interstellar road building was appealing. But nothing much happened. There was a traumatic event very, very close to the end, and then the denouement. And it was over.

  3. The main selling points of “The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet” are the imagination Becky Chambers puts into the development of her alien characters and the relationships she creates between her human and her non-human characters.

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