The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Folio Society)

by Becky Chambers

Hardcover, 2024



Call number



Folio Society (2024); Limited Edition (386 pages)


Rosemary Harper doesn't expect much when she joins the crew of the aging Wayfarer. While the patched-up ship has seen better days, it offers her a bed, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy, and most importantly, some distance from her past. An introspective young woman, she's never met anyone remotely like the ship's diverse crew, including Sissix, the exotic reptilian pilot, chatty engineers Kizzy and Jenks, who keep the ship running, and Ashby, their noble captain. Life aboard the Wayfarer is chaotic and crazy-exactly what Rosemary wants. It's also about to get extremely dangerous when the crew is offered the job of a lifetime. Tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet is definitely lucrative and will keep them comfortable for years. But risking her life wasn't part of the plan. In the far reaches of deep space, the tiny Wayfarer crew will confront a host of unexpected mishaps and thrilling adventures that force them to depend on each other. To survive, Rosemary's got to learn how to rely on this assortment of oddballs-an experience that teaches her about love and trust, and that having a family isn't necessarily the worst thing in the universe.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member grizzly.anderson
I really wanted to like The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet much more than I did. The meta-story of an author getting Kickstarter support to get her novel out, the vivid quality of the writing in each chapter, the fairly interesting universe where it all takes place. All of that was good and
Show More

The problem is that it reads like a bunch of really well-developed backstories for some other novel that doesn't exist yet. Each chapter is its own little bit of backstory for a character, or for an aspect of the galactic culture. Maybe an essay on inter-species romance, the evils of uniform thought, the nobility of former slaves turned pirates, or how heartless fathers are to their children. For a good novel all of these are the things that are in the background, that make characters and places come alive, which may never be fully expressed and aren't in and of themselves, a story. The Long Way... has a bare minimum of thread holding the chapters together: the crew must go from here to there, do a thing, and come back. Most of the chapters a disjointed from each other, start, relate their little character sketch and finish. Then the next chapter jumps along to the next convenient place to start another sketch.

At the conclusion there is some righteous anger and then happy families, which is very unsatisfying because there is no reason for the characters to have become a happy family, or really for anything to have changed at all. Sure there were some vignettes, but they didn't form any kind of character development arc. This format works for The Canterbury Tales, or even Hyperion because each disjointed story is its own morality play, with no need to form a cohesive whole. It fails when it tries to be a single story. You can't make a story with a beginning, middle, and end out of nothing but prefaces and beginnings.
Show Less
LibraryThing member imyril
Rosemary Harper has faked a new identity and signed on with the Wayfarer as a clerk. Captain Ashby hopes she'll open doors to juicier contracts. Everyone else just hopes she's less of a pain in the ass than their fuel engineer.

A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet is warm-hearted space opera. It's
Show More
more interested in people than tech, and it's more interested in their development and feelings than their shenanigans. It's not remotely Literary with a capital L; it's sticky and fuzzy and given to wrapping it's observations about humanity in jokes made by aliens. In the spectrum of SFF it's up near Firefly, but with pacifist engineers rather than smugglers.

I loved it. It wasn't a long slow dive of appreciation so much as a belly flop in the deep end.

The nominal plot: fly to newly-affiliated region of space inhabited by a tribe of ill-understood war-faring psychotics and open up a hyperspace tunnel back to civilization. The journey is the real story here, an excuse to introduce a richly diverse galaxy and spend as much time as possible with the affectionately squabbling crew. With no experience of deep space (let alone engineering) but a great deal of interest in aliens, Rosemary is a perfect entry into the fix-it world of the cobbled-together spacecraft on its long journey across the galaxy.

It's not brilliantly written, it's not shy of tropes, and it's not afraid to do exactly what you expect. But it's all executed with charm, making it irresistible (to me).

Highlights: effervescent engine tech Kizzy singing mondegreens to banned alien pop; reptilian pilot Sissix (yes, ok, she's another reason I love this book so much) having trouble typing because her digits are too cold; and - on a rather different note - exploring the limits (none) and post-traumatic responses (varied) of pacifists in the face of life-threatening violence. This book isn't afraid of its convictions; it's neither social justice war nor hand-wringing liberality; it's just life in many facets with different skins and surprisingly little judgment (except maybe the totalitarian Quelin).

I won't give it 5 stars right now, but I suspect it will upgrade on reread based on the absurd level of affection I've got rattling around my cold reptilian heart. Also, my huge crush on Sissix.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Stevil2001
I wanted to love this book. A group of disparate people thrown together in a meandering spaceship journey? Basically my favorite genre! But the way Becky Chambers actually executed this premise left something to be desired. There was just too little conflict-- I'm not saying that everyone needed to
Show More
be at each others' throats like an episode of The Expanse, but spending a year with your friends in the confines of a spaceship would bring up more interpersonal conflicts than these guys experienced, as anyone who's roomed with and/or worked alongside anyone would know. But the characters here either get along in a completely lovely fashion or are Total Jerks.

I also felt very uncomfortable with the way the majority of the crewmembers impose their moral views on one character and their way of life, in a book that was otherwise about celebrating the joys of multiculturalism and (what I guess you might call) multibiologism. I don't think the book sufficiently made the case that a particular character was being exploited to justify what was done to them against their will.

There's also not enough external conflict. I'm fine with there not being an overarching plot beyond the journey itself (I am, after all, a big fan of the Oz novels), but it felt like too often the Wayfarer arrived somewhere, talked to the people, and just moved on, without any kind of problem to overcome. Really there are only two segments of tension in the whole novel. And I guess this bothers me because it also prevents the characters from popping as much as they could; I want to see more of them struggling, to see what they're like. I did like the milieu and premise Chambers created (particularly her vision of future Human culture, the Exodans), but I'm unconvinced this is the best possible story that could have been told in it. I didn't hate the novel or anything, but I basically finished feeling it was okay, with occasional flashes of interest. I will read the next book because I "have to" for Hugos voting, but I'm not sure I would have bothered otherwise.
Show Less
LibraryThing member ScoLgo
Star Wars meets Firefly. Everyone on the crew is so different but they are all special and unique snow flakes and everyone feels so very good about everyone else. Except for Corbin the algae guy. Everyone thinks he's a pompous ass - but then he ends up being a good guy too. Hurrah!

Sorry. This was
Show More
just too simplistic for me. I prefer my characters with more shades of grey and to exhibit some complexity. While the premise is pretty cool, development of the characters and world-building both fell flat and that, for me, made this a mediocre book at best.

The title is accurate though; most of the book is about the stops the Wayfarer makes on its way to the titular small, angry planet near the galactic core. Once they get there, a little bit of stuff happens and then the story is done and everyone is ready for a sequel which I am likely to skip.
Show Less
LibraryThing member ladycato
This is a different sort of science fiction novel—one that comes across as a loving tribute to the genre but does not focus on the Big Damn Hero sorts. No, this is about construction workers just trying to do their job and punch holes in deep space while keeping themselves alive. It's a fantastic
Show More
read because it feels cozy, intimate, real. These are my sorts of people/beings/AI constructs. Events near the end even made me tear up. It's no wonder this book earned so much acclaim last year. It deserves it.
Show Less
LibraryThing member edwasho
This book fits a genre I've been begging for but didn't think existed. I'm not even sure if it has a name. Slice-of-life sci-fi? Journey-over-destination? Who's to say, all I've got is that this book is terrific and is sure to invoke a warm feeling in all fans of sci-fi.
LibraryThing member macha
basically fanfic'. which in origin it was. the characters were okay, but headed nowhere, since nothing actually happened. there was no pacing, because there was nowhere to go. there wasn't even any climax (saved for next book, presumably). and there was an odd kind of pollyanna feel to it all,
Show More
everyone full of such positive thoughts, like that was the whole point of the exercise. and not a single interesting idea to back it up. i can't say i've ever read a space opera like it, and i hope publishing isn't trending in that direction, or we've all got as readers some lean times ahead. normally 3 is my score for "it's competent, so far as it goes (not far), but remind me never to read another one of those", which is certainly where i'm at with this one.
Show Less
LibraryThing member booksandliquids
DNF @ 60%.

I love the worldbuilding, but there's just nothing happening in this book, except for people talking about and explaining things. Just characters telling each other about the world, but since they do nothing, I don't really know who they are and why I should care about them. It's all
Show More
tell, don't show and sadly, I did not enjoy one chapter of it.

Two stars for the worldbuilding, which is, as I said, excellent.
Show Less
LibraryThing member MikePearce
This is one of the best books I have ever read. It's a road movie in space which allows you to explore and understand each and every crew member of the Wayfarer. This book made me, a 39 year old man, cry on a packed train.

There isn't some galactic problem, some incredibly important mission that
Show More
needs solving, or some undiscovered alien race threatening the existence of life. It's simply the story of a crew travelling to somewhere far away near a small, angry planet to do their job.

It's simply incredible.
Show Less
LibraryThing member reading_fox
Fun. Really enjoyable character driven SF - cosy SF really, like the crime genre, but set in space without any bodies.

The crew of the wayfarer, are a mixed bunch, mostly humans but with a variety of other aliens as well. It's a small tight knit ship, but the captain Ashby, has been letting the
Show More
paperwork slide, and finally realise it would be cost efficient to hire one more person. It's Rosemary's lucky day. Even though she's barely been in space before - let alone on the Wayfarer's long cruises - she does have the paperwork credentials and plenty of academic experience with aliens cultures.

The Wayfarer is a wormhole construction ship - but the technology is almost irrelevant it's an excuse for the journey, and to give the crew the opportunity to interact, which is well crafted. I'm never that fond of frequent jumping between characters, but this is well managed and they all shine in their own ways. The aliens are just about believably different - always a tricky thing to achieve. I'm not sure they quite think completely alien manner, but the author has at least managed to give them different concerns form the humans. The least believable is the AI lovey, While a discussion about the relative sentience of artificial technology is welcome, I'm not sure the character of Lovey was well crafted. In an emotionally driven storyline exploring many of the differences between cultures, the AI stood out as too humanlike. The rest is really quite good though.

Nothing really happens as such, but en route, there are a few way-stops each of which features a different character's problems and opportunities. Lots of looking at other cultures, and attempting to accommodate them sufficiently without judging. It's all very happy feeling, which makes a difference to the normal run of SF. Not really space opera, but maybe space pantomime without the songs. Enjoyable light entertainment.

I'm interested to see where the series goes.
Show Less
LibraryThing member alspachc
So, this is space opera. It ... has flaws. It's super lightweight, so things that might be forgivable in a weightier book stand out because there just is no *there* there.

We're on a spaceship with a cast of characters en-route across the galaxy to build a new wormhole. Nifty! Except...the
Show More
chronology don't really hold together. If you're building a new wormhole, it would seem like you would start at the closest existing wormhole, somewhere civilized, and gradually get out into the boonies with the space hippies and exile planets and what have you. However, roughly 2/3 through they visit a major race's home planet. You would think that would have already been linked up and they could have started there? I mean, this is space opera, just give a handwave about r-dimensional muon pathing dictating the route and we're set. But no...

Anyway, we do get a series of vignettes from various locales and character development of the crew. Except...the crew isn't that interesting? Or rather, they're all tropes (fine - light space opera, remember) that have been done better elsewhere (eeeh, less fine) and Chambers doesn't really add anything to them. Yeah Joker & EDI had a nifty story line in Mass Effect, but I've already seen it. And Firefly's Kaylee and NCIS's Abby are fun expectation-defying technical women - but I've met them already. Do something different with it already.

The climax is...there. Honestly, I read this book a while ago and don't particularly remember it. Which, series of planet hopping vignettes, the one at the end involves combat. Sure. It didn't need to be spectacular, but it certainly doesn't redeem anything.

So we have a bunch of lightweight, ok-ish elements. What did this book do to get one star instead of three?

It has an agenda. It has a 'correct' way of thinking. Not the characters have a correct way of thinking, the author does. I don't have the book with me, so I have to paraphrase, but this scene exemplified it.

A couple of old friends meet up and are playfully giving each other shit. Side character looks over and 'scowled. obviously he didn't like friends insulting friends'
Really? That was obvious? Not 'obviously he didn't like fred's hair' or 'obviously he shouldn't have had beans for lunch'. but 'obviously he knew the correct way to act'.

As a repeating theme, not an isolated quote, that style of 'tell-don't-show' didactic morality gets patronizing and annoying whether I agree with it or not
Show Less
LibraryThing member MickyFine
I adored this mellow science fiction tale of a small mixed-species crew going on a long haul trip to a distant planet to build a wormhole back to more populated space. Each of the crew members are well-developed and over the course of the novel you can't help but fall in love with the entire group.
Show More
The novel is a bit episodic as the crew do things like visit friends/family, go shopping for supplies, and learn more about each other but the book feels cohesive throughout. If you like Firefly, this book is probably going to appeal (even if its crew is far more law-abiding). Highly recommended.
Show Less
LibraryThing member 2wonderY
A lot of readers have made the connection with Firefly; and meeting the first character, Kizzy, as the ship's mech tech, automatically makes one think of Kaylee Frye, lookin' good in grease. And Ashby is an unassuming captain who might be, but isn't a stand-in for Malcolm Reynolds. The fact that
Show More
the novel is based on an ensemble cast is also an appealing throwback to the TV series. And I'm thinking that Chambers has taken inspiration, but her strengths are her own.

Chambers obviously understands the appeal of character backstory. She does an extraordinarily good job of supplying this across all species. Her world building describes a fascinating diversity of intelligent life, and she is able to start with species' history/biology/politics and move on from there to particular personalities. She does this world building without having to resort to info-dumping. The material is exposed in a most natural way, through the interactions of the crew and the occasional newsfeed/letter/document from outside the ship, and always having good reason for such. The only weakness I saw was explaining how the disaster at the end could have happened. We meet only three Ka, and only one has any power, and the New Mother appears to be fully in favor of the Galactic alliance. So I'm scratching my head.

I also liked that this is a workaday ship and that the Galactic Commons is based on cooperation and not war. Ashby does set the tone for his crew, so while he is not the most interesting character, he is certainly critical. The character I'd most like to know personally is Dr. Chef.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Strider66
Pros: interesting characters, fascinating world-building

Cons: limited plot

The Wayfarer is a ship that punches tunnels through space, connecting major hubs so other ships can travel between them faster. When they’re offered the chance to tunnel to a new area, they say yes, even though it means
Show More
travelling over a year to the entry point in space that isn’t quite friendly.

This is a space opera that focuses on the crew and the world they inhabit by way of a simplistic plot. The crew encounter a number of problems on the mission, some personal, some interpersonal, and some brought on through outside forces.

I found the crew a lot of fun. You get to know some of them and their foibles a lot more than others. Corbin, for example, is introduced as a jerk and a loner and then pretty much ignored until a crisis focused on him arises. Other characters get a lot of page time, like Kizzy, the mechanic, and Sissix, one of the alien species on board. Having said that, I never really connected with any of them, and so never felt particularly strong emotions during their crises.

Where the book really shines is the world-building. The alien races are brilliantly done, with unique languages, cultures, dietary preferences, gestures, sexualities and more. There are minor info dumps through conversation explaining some of the races’ habits, but they’re integrated well and feel mostly natural. You’re given enough information to understand the differences between races, and how they interact, without being bogged down in details.

If you’re looking for action and adventure you won’t find it here. If you’re looking for a fun, interspecies crew and learning about a new world this is a great book. The climax is exciting and there’s a good denouement that wraps things up well.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Kristelh
I read this book for the tag "space opera". I think it fits that category really well. The story is about a mixture of beings, human and otherwise, on a space ship called the Wayfarer. The Wayfarer is a tunneler of worm holes. The story is filled with adventure and mishaps and it is more about
Show More
relationships than about wormholes. The author is the daughter of an astrobiology educator, an aerospace engineer and an Apollo-era rocket scientist. This book is her debut novel and she funded it with Kickstarter campaign. It was shortlisted for the 2016 Arthur C. Clarke Award, and nominated for the British Fantasy Awards' 2016 "Sydney James Bounds Award for Best Newcomer". It was the first self-published novel to be shortlisted for the Kitschies Golden Tentacle for Best Debut Novel. The story lacks in tension, not much happens until the very last few pages and even that isn't too nail biting in any way. The strength is its relationships between characters and world building. Rating 3.07
Show Less
LibraryThing member pwaites
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is a delightful stand alone science fiction novel. Reading it was like wrapping myself in a warm, fluffy blanket on a cold day. Focusing on the nine member crew of the Wayfarer, this episodic book is character based story you won’t want to miss.

The Wayfarer
Show More
is a small, privately owned ship used to make tunnels through space. Once these tunnels are completed, ships can jump through the wormholes from one point to another. On the face of it, this book is about when the crew of the Wayfarer takes a job making a tunnel to a distant planet inhabited by an unfathomable and hostile alien race. However, this book is really more about the journey than the destination. The story’s focused on the interactions and personal lives of the different crew members, and they don’t reach the planet until nearly the end of the novel.

The blurb tries to convince you that a woman named Rosemary is the main character. She’s definitely one of the more central characters, but really this is an ensemble cast. She’s hired aboard as a clerk who’s hiding a secret. Other characters include: an alien pilot from a lizard like species; the ship’s captain, who’s involved in a secret relationship with an alien woman; two gregarious mechanics; a strange alien navigator; the ship’s AI; an alien who serves as both doctor and chef; and an anti-social man who takes care of the ship’s algae. All have their own problems and secrets which are explored over the course of the book.

I liked the inventive world building a lot. There are some elements that you commonly see, like a galactic government composed of multiple sentient species. I think those alien species were my favorite part – Chambers was very imaginative when it came to the creation of the different alien races.

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet is a largely optimistic book that focuses on the everyday lives of its characters. It’s a happy, joyful book that’s very pleasant to read. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for character based or feel-good science fiction.

Originally posted on The Illustrated Page.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Carrie_Etter
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel--its cast of characters was delightful in a Firefly-esque sort of way. I'm looking forward to the sequel, though a little disappointed that it doesn't focus on the same characters--I want to spend more time with them!
LibraryThing member over.the.edge
The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet
(Wayfarers #1)
by Becky Chambers
4.5 /5.0

Feel good sci-fi, adventurous and exciting. There is danger. There is injustice. How they are dealt with, and with such an amazing outlook and outcome, are truly masterful.

Rosemary Harper joins the crew on the Wayfarer,
Show More
a patched up but still functioning ship that explores the galaxies and planets. Wayfarer is offered a special job-- tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet. Confronting unexpected mishaps, and new adventures, this is an oddball group of diverse characters that must all learn to live together if any of them are to survive. Rosemary learns about love, family and the power of together-ness.
Amazing, humble and so many feeling....I cant wait to finish this series.
Show Less
LibraryThing member norabelle414
A motley crew in a patchwork spaceship make their living picking up odd jobs creating tunnels through space. Some of them get along better than others, but they're all still family. After hiring a new space-administrator (with a dark past), the captain decides they're finally ready to take on a
Show More
big, high-profile, high-paying job - tunneling through space to connect galactic society to a new alien species - one with a history of violence.

This is the warmest, loveliest space travel story I've ever read. It's much more about the characters than it is about dramatics, and it was such a joy to spend time with. Although theoretically it shares a lot of DNA with other contemporary space operas like Ancillary Justice and Leviathan Wakes, I connected with it much more than I did with either of those books. Aside from a few scenes, most of the drama of the story comes not from thrills but from ethics and empathy - how different species with different mores interact with each other, and how to make decisions in a truly diverse culture. There are a lot of politics involved, but they're the politics of social justice, not who will get elected to what powerful office. Chambers does such a great job of creating character and backstory for alien species and the individuals within them. The Wayfarer crew feels instantly familiar. Highly highly recommended.
Show Less
LibraryThing member jjmcgaffey
Oh, lovely. I tried to read the second book in the series when it was nominated for a Hugo in 2017, but found the characters confusing and the setting opaque and quit. Now, starting from the beginning of the story, I find the setting fascinating and the characters delightful. This is a very
Show More
small-focus book - no saving the universe, just people working together (or not) and the structures of their relationships. There are implications for the wider universe, but they're largely accidental - the Captain's testimony to the Council has and will have resonances, but it's a very minor point in _this_ story. Rosemary is lovely, Kizzy is...well, I'd find her really annoying in real life but as a character she's great. Sissix is fascinating, both as a person and in her culture - all the various cultures crossing are fascinating. And there are a lot - at least three cultures among the humans, plus various aliens - and there clearly are differences within those cultures as well, though it's not as clearly delineated (mostly because there's only one of each species aboard the Wayfarer). But the Heretics, and the people who ignore the old woman that Sissix cuddles - it's clear that the races are not simplistic, monolithic cultures, but have as many variants as the humans do. The story is a little fuzzy - I hadn't realized they'd started on their long trip until the second or third incident within it. But again, what's going on is not the story, it's the connections between individuals that make the story. I'm now looking forward to reading the next two books - knowing who the characters are and why will make all the difference to my pleasure in reading.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Gwendydd
This might be the best book I read all year.

It follows the adventures of the Wayfarer, a construction ship that builds tunnels through space to allow fast space travel. The book is actually pretty light on plot - there is an overall story arc, and several little episodes (it reads like a season of
Show More
a TV show). But the book is so delightful that the lack of a plot doesn't matter. What makes the book wonderful are the characters. The characters are believable, interesting, funny, and endearing The main theme of the book is inter-species relations. The crew of the Wayfarer is mostly human, but there are several other species as well, and they travel to other planets and meet more species. The book explores small things, like how different cultures interpret hand gestures, to big things like family relations and inter-species sex.

The book ls laugh-out-loud funny. I read it out loud to my boyfriend, and several jokes from the book are now part of our daily conversational repertoire. But there were also scenes where I was literally in tears because they were so touching.

Highly recommended! I want a TV series next!
Show Less
LibraryThing member theWallflower
It's like a combo of John Scalzi and Leviathan Wakes. The characters are colorful, like a readable Firefly, but painted with a comic book brush. So they're actually happy--not sullen or brooding or grimdark. That's weird to me, but welcome. But after I finished, I was of two minds about it.

One one
Show More
hand, it's amateur hour. The entire middle could be removed without affecting the plot. Each chapter is episodic and self-contained. Some characters get a lot of screen time. Others you forget are there.

There's an illusion of consequences to character actions... but nothing really happens. For example, the main character has a "the liar revealed" moment, and it affects nothing because everybody is so nice. No one dies. No one loses an hand or a mentor. Nothing changes anyone or anything. Nobody gets to say "Man, I regret doing that thing" or "I was wrong to do that".

Finally, the "episodes" get transparently political. There is one that's an immigration allegory. One that's a LGBTQ rights allegory. One about religious freedom.

On the other hand, these are fun characters. They're enjoyable to be around. They're funny and smart, they don't make stupid decisions. They're practical and don't fall into space opera tropes. It's a little like Star Wars if it was created by the person who wrote My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. It's not morose empire drama. But I don't think I'll read the second one.
Show Less
LibraryThing member yarb
The characters, of whatever species, are bland and uncomplicated, their actions entirely predictable. What little conflict there is is easily resolved over tea and snacks, and there's nothing to drive the plot except each individual's token moment of personal growth. The concept of AI seems rather
Show More
odd, with most "AI's" seemingly not "I" at all, but maybe that's just me. One star added back on for good universe-building and some nicely imagined aliens. Better than "The Martian", but I'm now 0/2 with originally self-published SF.
Show Less
LibraryThing member albertgoldfain
A little too much furniture in the SF world-building, and little of it grounded in a real-world struggle. I liked the Futurama-like comedic moments, but ultimately many fruitful avenues for a story just start without going anywhere.
LibraryThing member thegreatape
Felt like what you'd get if Star Trek were written by Oberlin graduates. Enjoyable enough, but didn't have enough narrative tension to really grab me.


Women's Prize for Fiction (Longlist — 2016)
British Fantasy Award (Nominee — 2016)
Arthur C. Clarke Award (Shortlist — 2016)
Seiun Award (Nominee — 2020)
Otherwise Award (Long list — 2015)
The Kitschies (Finalist — 2014)
Ignotus Award (Winner — 2019)
The Observer Book of the Year (Science Fiction and Fantasy — 2015)


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

464 p.; 8 inches


0062444131 / 9780062444134
Page: 1.6499 seconds