As with everyone else in the world (of this site) I read the first Becky Chambers book. The book begins with Rosemary, a newly minted clerk joining the crew of the Wayfarer, a worm tunneling contract ship with a diverse crew of varying species. We are seated in Rosemary’s position (although the book jumps around to the different characters, our introduction to everything is through her initial tour and meet and greet). As we learn about the world the novel inhabits, the species and characters of the crew, we slowly are brought into the plot of the book: the tunneling ship is contracted to build a wormhole connecting a newly introduced and controversial addition to the galactic amalgamation. This will involve a significantly long journey amid dangerous possibilities.
So novel is structured a lot like a tv show in that we spend a long, slow time learning about the world, the characters, and the stakes involved. It’s pretty trope heavy throughout, but the early sorting of the book is letting us know which tropes will be involved as well as the over all tone of the novel. The tone throughout is mostly cheery. This is a world with hazards and important questions, but also a mostly functioning one. The inter-relationship of species is already a potentially fraught one, so that’s enough tension overall. We don’t have a roguish crew, or a rebellion, or an evil empire. We have a system that mostly works, and that’s still enough to provide questions.
I did enjoy this book, so don’t let my qualms and rating fool you. Like I said, this is like a tv show in a lot of ways. Many of the tough questions built into this novel have already been answered off-screen and while we are dealing some of them here, it sort of allows a lot of the other books it alludes to (almost entirely indirectly) do the heavy lifting. So in those ways, while it’s enjoyable, I think it’s limited in its capacity.