The Exodus Fleet carried humans from a broken Earth to new planets, but not all chose to leave those ships. A Record of a Spaceborn Few explores the lives of those who live on board the Asteria and the customs developed over centuries of life in space. It’s about belonging and the journey you take to find where you belong in the universe.

From the ground we stand. From our ship we live. By the stars we hope.

It starts with tragedy, an explosion on board one of the fleet’s ships, witnessed by a little girl. This develops into a phobia for her, living on a ship yet scared to go near walls, to look out the windows and the great expanse of nothingness. Yet she is not the only one who craves life on solid ground. Kip is a teenage boy, constrained by life on board. He wants to experience the full breadth of life, and he can’t do that here.

This tragedy introduces the job of caretaker and the death rites on board a ship. What do you do with bodies in space? Use them to grow crops of course, to be part of the cycle of life and help feed future generations. Eyas is respected yet lonely as a caretaker. She visits a tryst club for companionship and sex, the sex workers having as much a valid place in the workings of the fleet as anyone else.

We destroyed entire worlds – entire species. It took a galactic war to stop us. We learned. We apologised. We changed. But we can’t give back the things we took. We’re still benefiting from them, and others are still suffering from actions centuries old.

A Harmagian is visiting the Asteria, on a anthropological mission to learn more about Exodans. We see them through her eyes as part of her logs, and learn about the prejudice afforded humans, the newcomers to space. It acknowledges the affects of colonialism as science fiction can do, not bound by the history of Earth. If humans did go out into space and find intelligent life, we would be treading on toes, and we might not be the top species any more.

It’s really a book exploring culture, there’s not much of a grand plot, but Becky Chambers is so good at this sort of thing. It loosely follows Sawyer, an outsider who is looking for something different and has come to stay in the Exodan Fleet to see if he can find it there. He’s feeling isolated, apart from the community and viewed with suspicion by some. Just a tourist, they think.

Knowledge should always be free. What people do with it is up to them.

He’s then offered a job, a place where he could belong. He’s very trusting and I was immediately suspicious of the situation. Close communities are all very well when you’re inside them, but it can be hard being an outsider.

If you’re already a fan of the Wayfarers then you’ll love this book. They are all standalone but would I suggest reading them in order to get the most out of them.

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Book Source: Purchased