May 2nd, 2020

Book 28 - 2018

Book 28: Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers - 358 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Centuries after the last humans left Earth, the Exodus Fleet is a living relic, a place many are from but few outsiders have seen. Humanity has finally been accepted into the galactic community, but while this has opened doors for many, those who have not yet left for alien cities fear that their carefully cultivated way of life is under threat.

Tessa chose to stay home when her brother Ashby left for the stars, but has to question that decision when her position in the Fleet is threatened.

Kip, a reluctant young apprentice, itches for change but doesn't know where to find it.

Sawyer, a lost and lonely newcomer, is just looking for a place to belong.

And when a disaster rocks this already fragile community, those Exodans who still call the Fleet their home can no longer avoid the inescapable question:

What is the purpose of a ship that has reached its destination?


Thoughts:
Becky Chambers reminds me why sci-fi is, and always will be, my first love (genre-wise). Somehow, each time she manages to show what I've always considered sci-fi's more powerful quality: self-examination at a far enough distance as to not preach. Like The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet ("TLW") and A Closed and Common Orbit ("CCO"), Record of a Spaceborn Few ("RSF") manages to do that magical thing where, without a huge amount happening, lives are examined and people face challenges and grow and change. I grew up watching Star Trek, and it was this that Star Trek did so famously and so well - without being preachy, it made me wonder about big, deep, meaningful things. RSF, likes its predecessor, does this remarkably well. It tells the story of a group of random inhabitants of the Fleet, a human space settlement, born out of the Exodus Fleet - the last humans to leave the dying Earth. Having arrived at a 'destination', having been accepted into the Galactic Community, the Fleet now stands still, still a home to those who've never have, or don't want to live planetside. But as the blurb of this book asks: what is the purpose of a ship that's reached its destination? It is that question, and the broader question of purpose, that RSF asks. I won't deny that there's not a lot of plot here - Chambers' books are far more about character than plot - but it is this simplicity that makes the great big questions asked - and the multiple answers given - resound so much more loudly. I won't deny, I nearly cried at least twice in this one.
I wasn't 100% sure I was keen on Chambers' work when I first read TLW, but I've come to appreciate that the beauty of her books is in their poignant ability to examine people in a warm, decent manner - sci-fi sometimes loses itself in unnecessary violence, Chambers reminds us that sci-fi is most powerful when its allowing us to self-examine.
I don't think I could pick a favourite amongst Chambers' books, nor does anyone stand-out more than any other. They are all wonderful in their own way. I hope Chambers writes more.



28 / 50 books. 56% done!


8751 / 15000 pages. 58% done!

Currently reading:
- Journey to the West
by Cheng-En Wu - 673 pages
- Artemis
by Andy Weir - 305 pages
- Patriot Games
by Tom Clancy - 616 pages

And coming up:
- The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder
by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
- The Odyssey
by Homer – 324 pages
- Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
by Neil DeGrasse Tyson - 208 pages
  • Current Music
    Interviews on YouTube