How to explain this book? This book is:
– the feeling of a Sunday where the only thing you have to do is sleep, brush your teeth, and putter around
– a warm hug from your favorite person
– spending an afternoon with that friend who instinctively knows exactly how much or little conversation you can handle
– platonic cuddles on a pleasantly full stomach when you’re pleasantly warm
– wearing the perfectly right clothes for the weather
– perfect word play that brings laughter to the group without putting anyone down
– entirely, entirely too short!
I could go on like this for ages. Writing that list, actually, reminded me of how much I loved reading it, how it literally brought me to tears on a train ride through Belgium, how Chambers has some eldritch magic in her fingers that just perfectly encapsulates the serenity of life despite the fact that her books are set in post-robot-apocalyptic Earth/space ships/alternate planets/the like. When people kvetch that her works aren’t space operas I want to laugh. What else is opera, but stories that make you gasp and cry and laugh and smile and want to immediately share your joy with the world?
As the plot is basically a non-plot, I’ll be brief. Sibling Dex and Mosscap continue on their trek through Panga to allow Mosscap to ask as many humans as possible his simple question: what do you need? They will visit Dex’s family, they will visit villages that have entirely shunned modernity, they will visit abandoned beaches. They will contemplate the nature of death, of family, of nature, of time and finally, in a series of revelations that still take my breath away when I think about them (and which I can only do so in a sidelong, glancing sort of way, in the way one ‘looks’ at the sun) of human purpose itself.
Since I cannot be any more coherent as to the meaning and sentiment behind the book, I’ll take the last moment to touch upon the world building that Chambers continues in this second (and hopefully not last??) work–just the most delightful, gently chiding explanations of how a world focused on maximizing happiness instead of profits might function. Dex’s shuddering horror at a society in which not having credits dooms a person to poverty hits…well, it hits right there in the heart of it all, doesn’t it?