Thursday, 6 August 2015

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

Humans would’ve died out, too, if the Aeluons hadn’t chanced upon the Fleet. Luck’s what saved them. Luck, and discovering humility.

On board the Wayfarer is a crew of wormhole builders, literally punching holes in space. On their way to a job of a lifetime, in potentially hostile territory, the crew’s life plays out. Everyone has a story to tell; the new clerk running away from her past; the reptilian pilot living amongst a culture alien to her own; the pacifist captain waiting for his love to return from war. It’s a long way to that small, angry planet so plenty of time to learn about one another.

At the heart of The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is a crew of the most lovely, amazing characters ever to set foot on a spaceship. Rosemary might set off on the wrong foot, being given the tour by the grumpiest member, and worrying that her past will catch up with her, but this isn’t setting the scene for strife. This is a ship of good people.

Fear. Such a throwback emotion, meant to spur primitive lifeforms away from potential predators. Life’s universal constant. Every fear of rejection, of criticism, of failure, of loss – these were all caused by that same archaic survival reflex.

In the future, the human race isn’t at the top of the hierarchy. Quite the opposite, they were only just allowed to be let into the GC, what with many other species looking down on them. As Wayfarer travels towards Hedra Ka, the readers learns about different cultures and quite how absurd some of the things we take for granted might seem to another sentient species.

Why would social structures be the same as 20th century Earth’s in cultures that have evolved independently to ours? Of course they wouldn’t, and we see a variety of different identities and ways of living. The key thing to note about this story is the overarching acceptance of differences. It’s just lovely. The writing uses a variety of pronouns, for those species that are genderless, or to be polite when you don’t know what gender someone identifies as. There is also the use of they for Ohan.

Oh Ohan. I cried over pretty much every part of their story. For some reason I had them pictured as a sort of blue orang-utan though, anyone else? How hard to watch friends waste away, but knowing it’s their own choice, their own beliefs sending them to their grave.

Couldn’t the same be said for organic people? Weren’t they all born running the Basic Human Starter Platform, which was shaped and changed as they went along?

Lovey has got to be the best AI ever. I’m not sure I’ve ever cried over a fictional computer before. Whilst the universe seems so liberal in many ways, there are still prejudices. What about life artificially created, does that not deserve the same rights as anyone else? It’s not just AIs that have this problem, as little glimpses into the characters’ lives will tell.

This book is as far from angry as you can get. It is full of love and emotion, and an endearing loyalty. More please!

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is published by Hodder and is available to buy now in ebook formats with a hardback due for release on 13th August 2015. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.

2 comments:

  1. I posted my review of this book yesterday (http://hzyrds.me/1DKyAFN). I loved it so much I didn't want it to end. I'm so glad other people are enjoying it!

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  2. I had planned to put this into your hands at the Bookshop Crawl, but it doesn't surprise me that you've already read and loved it. I just finished reading it a couple of days ago and am now trying to put my thoughts together into my own review. One of my top reads of the year so far!

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