Somewhere within our crowded sky, a crew of wormhole builders hops from planet to planet, on their way to the job of a lifetime. To the galaxy at large, humanity is a minor species, and one patched-up construction vessel is a mere speck on the starchart. This is an everyday sort of ship, just trying to get from here to there.
But all voyages leave their mark, and even the most ordinary of people have stories worth telling. Set against a backdrop of curious cultures and distant worlds, this episodic tale weaves together the travels of nine eclectic characters, each on a journey of their own.
Read if you loved: The Book of Strange New Things – Michel Faber
Becky Chambers Biography
Becky Chambers was raised in California as the progeny of an astrobiology educator, an aerospace engineer, and an Apollo-era rocket scientist.
An inevitable space enthusiast, she made the obvious choice of studying performing arts.
After a few years in theater administration, she shifted her focus toward writing.
She worked as a freelancer between 2010 and 2014, during which time her work appeared at The Mary Sue, Tor.com, Five Out Of Ten, and The Toast.
Her writing time for The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet was funded in 2012 thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign.
After living in Scotland and Iceland, Becky is now back in her home state in Northern California.
Becky Chambers on the Inspiration Behind The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet
I grew up with space stories: Star Trek, Star Wars, a family full of aerospace nerds. Most nights, when I lay in bed, I imagined myself aboard the Enterprise-D, traipsing through Mos Eisley, flying through nebulae. But those futures — and the ones I’d fall for as an adult, too — always belonged to an upper-crust crowd. Space was a place we saw through the eyes of heroes. You had to have the best ship, the biggest guns. Even the scruffy, scrappy heroes were more special than their peers. Chosen ones. Top-of-their-class. Badasses like no other. I dug that, and I still do. And there’s a parallel there with the people orbiting our planet now. Only the best of us get to leave Earth. Doesn’t matter if you’re talking military elite, or intellectual elite, or financially elite — you can’t get there without the Right Stuff.
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet was written out of a lifelong desire to see what it would be like for ordinary folks to live in a multispecies, intergalactic future. I love me my heroes, but I want to know how the galaxy treats the rest of us. My book has the same core components as a big, sprawling space opera — alien civilizations, seedy spaceports, interplanetary political snarls — but I flipped the camera around, back toward the people walking through the background. Mine is a future in which space is for everybody, a future that feels good to be in. I understand why so many of our fictions these days focus on the grim and grubby. These are complicated times, and sci-fi largely reflects our anxieties about what will become of our species. That’s needed, and necessary. But we also need stories that make us hopeful about where we might be headed after we get through the immediate slog. The Long Way’s my shot at that. There are bad guys and hard times, sure. That’s life. But life can be a good thing, overall. I’m biased, of course, but I think it’d be especially good on a spaceship.
There’s a whole mess of other smaller inspirations tucked into the story, too. Things I saw while traveling. People I met along the road. A solution for finding tooth-brushing to be really boring. It’s a lot of weird little bits and pieces, but like all things, they fall together.