“When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn’t expecting much. The Wayfarer, a patched-up ship that’s seen better days, offers her everything she could possibly want: a small, quiet spot to call home for a while, adventure in far-off corners of the galaxy, and distance from her troubled past.
But Rosemary gets more than she bargained for with the Wayfarer. The crew is a mishmash of species and personalities, from Sissix, the friendly reptilian pilot, to Kizzy and Jenks, the constantly sparring engineers who keep the ship running. Life on board is chaotic, but more or less peaceful – exactly what Rosemary wants.
Until the crew are offered a job of a lifetime: the chance to build a hyperspace tunnel to a distant planet. They’ll earn enough money to live comfortably for years… if they survive the long trip through war-torn space without endangering any of the fragile alliances that keep the galaxy peaceful. But Rosemary isn’t the only person on board with secrets to hide, and the crew will soon discover that space may be vast, but spaceships are very small indeed.”
This book has quickly become one of my favorite reads of 2019. I cannot describe it other than familiar and human. Even though this story is about a wide variety of alien species, every single one of them was relatable and endearing in some way without it feeling forced or fabricated. I would love to be a part of the Wayfarer crew!
I know this book has been described as ‘soft SciFi’, and I think that is partially right. Even though it has a very decent plot and some action packed scenes, it is first and foremost a story about people, friendship and chosen families.
‘Before Rosemary could have any say in the matter, the woman stood up, removed her gloves and wrapped Rosemary in an enormous hug. “Welcome home.” She pulled back, wearing an infectious grin. “I’m Kizzy Shao. Mech tech.” ‘
The crew on the Wayfarer are incredibly diverse, not only in species but in personalities, size (we have a person with Dwarfism), sexuality (interspecies and polyarmous relationships) race and wealth. Despite their differences they are loving and welcoming and accepting of one another (well, almost all of them. Looking at you Corbin). There are some great redemption arcs and certain characters experience enormous growth.
Lastly I want to emphasize the vast universe Becky Chambers has created.
‘Complicated family structures. Virtually no concept of personal space. Physically affectionate. Promiscuous. She mentally slapped herself for that. It was a stereotype, one that every Human knew whether they wanted to or not, and it smacked of ethnocentrism. They don’t pair up like we do, she chided herself. It’s not the same thing.‘
Becky Chambers has gone beyond just creating certain alien species just for the sake of interesting filler and weird phenomena. Every species has their own unique culture and personality quirks, and humans are far from superior. In fact, humans are looked upon as one of the weaker species.
As a reader, I found myself constantly being surprised and challenging my core beliefs and outlook on the world. We encounter species who regard children as less important than adults, who are polyamorous, who start their lives as females to then evolve and end their live as a male. This is such a culturally rich and important book and one that really makes you think about your own cultural beliefs.
Although I’m sad the second installment won’t be covering the whole Wayfarer crew again, I am beyond stoked to read more of Becky Chambers work and cannot recommend this book enough.