The Long Way to a Small Angry Plant has been popping up across my bookstagram over the last few months. I found myself wanting it even more when I couldn’t locate a copy easily. Cue, ordering myself a copy online immediately and waiting impatiently for it to arrive. This is a science-fiction novel about the crew of the Wayfarer, recently joined by Rosemary, a naive young woman who finds herself working with a host of different species and an unusual mix of personalities. The crew find themselves travelling long-distance through space for the job of a lifetime with many snags along the way, both internal and external.
I finished this book in little over 24 hours. This was an extremely pleasant and easy to read book. I found the plot easy to follow with lots of lightness along the way despite the many conflicts cropping up. After reading someone likening it to Firefly, I found myself picturing Ashby as the captain of the Firefly and very much enjoyed his interactions with the rest of the crew. Each of the characters are unique, both in personality and in body with a hodgepodge of galactic species described. Rosemary is the young, fresh worker with a secret holding her back. Naive, insightful and ready please she is a competent narrator for much of the book. Kizzy and Jenks are the crazy techs you can’t help but fall in love with, fighting like siblings they are quirky and entertaining. Sissix is the sexy reptilian pilot who is mysterious and intriguing. Not to mention all the others, the characters in this novel are a real highlight and their complex relationships in the confined space of the air craft make much of this story.
Chambers manages to add some food for thought among the light and engaging characters. Ethics, morals, conquest and societal norms are all themes that are dealt with within this novel. The various species and their quirks that Chambers has created are unique and fascinating and they demonstrate these themes impeccably. These themes can be easily compared to society now with such an emergence and focus on the LBGT communities, not to mention the cross-cultural differences that have been around for centuries. No matter how you choose to think of it, or how you make your own links with society today, there are some clear lessons in diversity and acceptance that we can all take with us. I found myself pondering some of these in the shower post finishing this book (where I do my best thinking, I swear). Having read a few futuristic novels of late, I also found myself pondering how long before we, as humanity, find ourself in this situation in the future. A hundred years? A thousand? Less? Who knows, but it does make you wonder about how we conduct ourselves as a species living on this earth.
The bigger, contemplative questions of life aside, this was a great read. Something you can pick up and superficially enjoy, yet with a little meat under the surface. This is a great example of science fiction and I for one am glad Chambers worked so hard to self-publish this novel. I also look forward to picking up A Close and Common Orbit, the second book in this series in the near future. I give The Long Way to a Small Angry Plant three aliens, most likely out there are more advanced than us on earth anyway.