Monday, October 17, 2016

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers

Title: A Closed and Common Orbit
Author: Becky Chambers
Genre: Adult, Science Fiction
Source: Hodder & Stoughton via NetGalley

The extraordinary new novel by Becky Chambers, author of The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, called by Ann Leckie 'great fun!'

Lovelace was once merely a ship's artificial intelligence. When she wakes up in an new body, following a total system shut-down and reboot, she has no memory of what came before. As Lovelace learns to negotiate the universe and discover who she is, she makes friends with Pepper, an excitable engineer, who's determined to help her learn and grow.

Together, Pepper and Lovey will discover that no matter how vast space is, two people can fill it together.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet introduced readers to the incredible world of Rosemary Harper, a young woman with a restless soul and secrets to keep. When she joined the crew of the Wayfarer, an intergalactic ship, she got more than she bargained for - and learned to live with, and love, her rag-tag collection of crewmates.

A Closed and Common Orbit is the stand-alone sequel to Becky Chambers' beloved debut novel The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet and is perfect for fans of Firefly, Joss Whedon, Mass Effect and Star Wars.
Review by Nara

Although A Closed and Common Orbit is technically a standalone, it's sort of an indirect sequel to The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, and I would definitely recommend giving that a read before going on to this book. You should read Chambers' debut anyway because it's amazing, but it will give you a nice foundation on which to build your knowledge about the vivid universe that Chambers creates.

I love the characters in Becky Chambers' books- she develops them so well and you very quickly become attached to them within the first few chapters of reading about them. Sidra and Jane both had very interesting character arcs, and it was awesome to see how each character changed throughout the course of the plotline (especially how Jane became Pepper). To be honest, I kind of would have liked to see the characters from her previous book, but in the end I was okay with them not appearing as well.

I was also quite fascinated by the different alien races and how well thought out the different cultures are. I feel like it would've been good if there were pictures in there because I found it a bit difficult to picture everything in my head (as a result of me not really being much of a visual reader). Also interesting to ponder was the issue of AI ethics- are AI technically "sentient"? It's a hard issue to comment on, because they're manmade does that mean that they're not on the same level as people? Or because they're just as intelligent as people, should they have the same rights? Obviously this isn't an issue that will come up for a while in our current society, but it's interesting to think about it.

If you've been wanting to give science fiction a read, but find the dense prose of Isaac Asimov or Philip K Dick a bit hard to wade through, I'd certainly recommend giving Becky Chambers' books a read. They're much lighter and have a more modern feel. And of course they're very well written, always a bonus.

Really liked it
Overall: 8/10
Plot: 4/5
Writing: 5/5
World Building: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Cover: 4/5