A Closed and Common Orbit
This is the second novel by Becky Chambers. The first one reads like Serenity fan fiction (in a good way) and I highly recommend it. This book is a little more original in both plot and character development which is a nice change. This book follows the A.I. from the first book as she leaves the ship in a highly illegal android body, a new name, Lovey, and with no memory of who she was before the catastrophe that occurred in the previous book. This is a bit problematic because a hard reboot has wiped all her memories and her motivation for wanting to leave the ship and walk among the world in a humanoid body. Needless to say that she is not a happy camper on any level. Everything is hard and strange and she can’t remember why she wanted this life in the first place. Luckily she has landed in a family of Misfits. Pepper, the mechanic who transferred her into the body and then took her off the ship is a clone. Bred for labor, she was a completely disposable child who somehow made it off her home planet and into a full life. How she got there is told alternatively with the A.I.’s story of adjustment and establishing her own sense of self and purpose. This book is fun. It attempts to address some hard subject matters such as the role of self-determination in our ultimate destinies and do we always want free will? The characters have an obvious point of view towards the creation of intelligent life for the pursuit of menial labor, but there isn’t some call to action within the story for an end to abusive practices. The breeding of humans for labor and the resulting abuse of children is straightforward horror, but what about artificial intelligence? What rights or priveledges should these thinking beings have in the universe? That question isn’t easily answered and Chambers doesn’t even attempt to. Instead she focuses on the very relatable characters at the heart of her story. I am looking forward to reading Chamber’s next book set in this universe. So far, her stories are contained within the books. While there is definitely more story to be told, this isn’t the typical sci-fi saga that drones on and on for 11 volumes with little character development and whole lot plot twists and needless filler. It is a lot like Discworld in that regard. I look forward to revisiting old friends in later books, but I also feel like the story is complete.