A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet


I just finished an interesting, and a bit odd Sci-Fi book entitled “The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet” by Becky Chambers. I greatly enjoyed the book and even gave it a rating on Amazon, something I rarely do. The book is odd in that the weakest point, IMHO, is the science. I really doubt that ships carry boxes of spare bolts- NASA used technologies such as Velcro to help reduce weight when Neil Armstrong landed on the Moon, using it on his suit, the lunar vehicle and other places.  Since there is concerns regarding weight that seems a natural technology. It could even use its “Variable Load Coupling Rear Orientation (V-LCRO)” seats, technology that attaches the driver to the seat with Velcro adhesive to allow for more aggressive turns. Also there is a scene where the crew needs to destroy contraband so they simply throw it in the engines. Now the ships run on algae, how I do not know but then I am not really sure how a jumbo jet flies either. But it seems to me that there is not some boiler door such as on The African Queen where you can get up a head of steam by shoveling in more coal/algae. These are just minor quibbles.


The book is basically about relationships. Human to human, human to aliens and humans to AI. It deals with bigotry in a number of forms, responsibility, compassion, guilt, and love, platonic and sexual as well as interspecies relationships. In some ways it is a morality play except that the characters are well drawn out, the situations are realistic. The author has the book moving at a brisk pace and there are a number of incidents that are not expected that help develop the characters while not core to the central goal of the characters. All of these diverse issues are handled with a deft touch, never making it feel preachy.


One thing that kind of bothers me is that I bought the book for my Kindle. Now I read a lot of books on it, but they are almost entirely books that are past copyright protection. I am pretty sure that Julius Caesar is not going to be upset that I did not buy the Civil Wars as a new book and so cut him out of royalties that might be due to him. I am not sure how that works for authors that are currently working. Do they get the same from a Kindle sale? I think it was a $1.99 sale and I bought it at two in the morning, so I think a lot of people understand that kind of splurge buying, but I would still prefer to buy books in a manner that rewards the author more, as I believe buying new books does. Then I could be wrong.


One thing I am curious about. The crew keeps its food in stasis while traveling. I was wondering if you would need to or rather simply have it in a room that is exposed to the vacuum of outer space. Could that do the job without the need for large refrigeration units?

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