A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet is a science fiction book by Becky Chambers. It involves the crew of the Wayfarer, a modest spaceship that punches holes through reality to create stable wormholes. The crew is a mix of humans and aliens, working together to take on contracts and make a living. They are not military or freebooters; they are the future space equivalent of a road crew. Or to put it another way, just one character from your Star Wars/Star Trek/RPG group could murder every member of the Wayfarer with no problem.
Which is great! This is not a book about fights or action scenes. This is a book that a contract the crew takes on and spend the better part of a year trying to complete. Over the course of the job, we get deep dives into each and every character and the personal challenges they face. This book is 95% slice-of-life and I am here for it. In the last thirty pages, something major happens but that’s fine. Life can drop disasters on you.
With so much of the story focused on the characters, the real success of this novel is how deep and interesting the characters are. This is a book for the modern age which means we get non-hetero relationships, aliens who practice polyamory, other aliens who go through gender phases and there are many discussions of body autonomy. This is a science fiction book crammed with liberal ideas and once more, I am here for it.
It is no wonder this book won a Hugo. I fell in love with the characters and reading their lives enriched me in ways I struggle to explain. Love and found-family is the core of this book and with so many science-fiction franchises focused on combat and acts of war, it is a welcome change.