Like the other Wayfarers novels, The Galaxy, and the Ground Within is essentially a standalone novel, though readers of the other novels in the series will recognize the character Pei. She is one of the main characters this time, along with Roveg, a Quelin; Speaker, an Akarak; and Ouloo and her child Tupo, both Laru.
The setting is the planet Gora, which is the Hanto word for “useless,” which I think made me laugh out loud upon reading that. It’s a planet that people stop at on their way to other planets, and Ouloo runs a business there. When an incident above the planet strands the other characters at Ouloo’s for a few days, they find themselves spending time with and getting to know people they might not otherwise have spent any time with and about whom they likely had misconceptions (readers may recall the negative incidents with the Quelin and Akarak from The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet).
Not much happens in the novel, even less than in Record of a Spaceborn Few, but I liked it more than that one. I loved learning more about Quenlin, Akarak, and Laru physiology and cultures. Like the other novels, although Becky Chambers writes relatively cozy sci-fi, she doesn’t shy away from hard or heart-wrenching content. The Akarak and Quelin species both have challenging histories that are ongoing, and I felt especially sad for the Akarak, who have no homeworld and haven’t been treated particularly well by the Galactic Commons.
There was a scene between Roveg and Tupo that was particularly sweet. Tupo has created a “natural history” museum that’s mostly just rocks, but Roveg gives Tupo his time and attention and treats the museum seriously, first because that’s the nice thing to do and then because Tupo is making some good points about xyr collection and why it makes sense to call it a natural history museum.
I really enjoyed this end to the Wayfarers series. 3.5 stars rounded up to 4, especially because of how much I liked the end.
cbr15bingo Politics – especially for descriptions of Quelin intraspecies politics and interspecies politics between Akarak and the Galactic Commons