Earlier this year narfna posted her review of Record of a Spaceborn Few and in the comments she assured me that even less happens in this third installment of the Wayfarers series. I was delighted.
It is generally acknowledged that science fiction takes our current major concerns and conflicts and sets them in the future, usually a more scientifically advanced future. Becky Chambers tweaks that a bit by having her characters preoccupied with the same minutia that preoccupies us all – our relationships, our work, our families, our place in our community, what is our purpose and what is the point?
In Record of a Spaceborn Few, big things do happen, but they aren’t galactic wars or monumental political struggles. Parents decide how they should best raise their children. A teen decides what kind of person to be. An elder sets a youth on a path. A woman who provides an important service questions her path and finds a way to do the work she loves, plus more. People die, careers change, friendships end and begin.
In my review of A Closed and Common Orbit, I called Chambers the lead writer of cozy sci-fi. She is clearly becoming more comfortable with letting the major events happen off the page and focusing on the beauty of our small lives. Her books are becoming less operatic and more domestic. And somehow, I feel more hope at the end of Record of a Spaceborn Few than I did at the end of Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Mercy, which I loved. The management of the universe has not changed, but humans go on living life and some of them try to be good people and help other people be good people.
I leave you with a passage in which a baby is named and the record of their life in the fleet begins.
He is now, and always, a member of our Fleet. By our laws, he is assured shelter and passage here. If we have food, he will eat. If we have air, he will breathe. If we have fuel, he will fly. He is son to all grown, brother to all still growing. We will care for him, protect him, guide him. We welcome you, Amias, to the decks of the Asteria, and to the journey we take together.’ He spoke the final words now, and the room joined him. ‘From the ground, we stand. From our ships, we live. By the stars, we hope.”