“From the ground, we stand. From our ships, we live. By the stars, we hope.”
Becky Chambers’s writing just resonates with me. It’s something about how incredibly realistic her characters are, set against an absolutely fantastic background. She write these stories about people living on a spaceship with incredible detail, down to how they grow food, and dispose of their dead, and handle cultural clashes with actual aliens, yet they act like people you’ve known your entire lives. Her books are inclusive and expansive and just give me this wonderful feeling in my chest whenever I’m reading them. I enjoyed the hell out of this book, but made myself stop every chapter or two to just take a breath and appreciate it. It was so tempting to fly through the entire story just to reach the end, but I knew I would regret it if I did.
“Our species doesn’t operate by reality. It operates by stories. Cities are a story. Money is a story. Space was a story, once. A king tells us a story about who we are and why we’re great, and that story is enough to make us go kill people who tell a different story. Or maybe the people kill the king because they don’t like his story and have begun to tell themselves a different one.”
Record of a Spaceborn Few picks up after the second Wayfarer book. Honestly, I don’t think you absolutely have to have read that in order to understand what’s happening here, but it’s such a great series that I recommend you start at the beginning anyway. At the beginning of the book, disaster strikes and thousands of residents of the ship die. This causes some very real issues, in addition to the grief that everyone on this ship feels. What do you do with all of those bodies? Normally, they’re prepared one at a time and composted to continue the circle of life. But when thousands died all at once, the ship doesn’t have the facilities to handle these things and the damage to the society is real.
We follow a few characters, including a woman who works with preparing the dead. There is a man who has come back to the ship, where his ancestors were born. And my favorite character, a teenager named Kip who is trying to find his way on the ship and in the universe. Chambers does an amazing job of providing little details, like what are characters eat and how they communicate and how time is tracked. And then she throws in alien characters who don’t sleep, and absorb everything through their skin, and they seem just as real as the humans we meet. I cannot say enough good stuff about her writing. She’s truly talented and I can’t wait to see what she does next.