What a delight! The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is a thoroughly enjoyable space opera. A varied crew made up of mostly humans plus individuals from other species live in a patchwork spaceship called the Wayfarer. The crew makes a living by punching tunnels in space for a fee. Each member of the crew is critical to the ship’s livelihood. They are all fairly well developed, though some better than others, and are not uniformly likable. I imagine we’ll see more about each crew member in future books in the series.
This book is episodic, rather than leading to one great conclusion. This serves to build the world and introduce the characters and species. There are varied romantic relationships – between members of the opposite sex of different species, between members of the same sex of different species, between one of the crew and the ship’s AI. The crew includes a human with dwarfism and a member of a species that starts out female and becomes male later in life. This character, Dr. Chef, was my favorite. He is both the doctor and the chef aboard the Wayfarer; his real name in his own language translates to something like “A Grove of Trees Where Friends Meet to Watch the Moons Align During a Sunset in Mid-Autumn," and he is described as being somewhat like an otter crossed with a gecko that walks like a six-legged caterpillar.
Interactions with other species are believable – there are common languages, but not everyone speaks them. Also, humans are not one of the great primary species in this world. After practically destroying Earth, most humans took to space and were fortunate to be rescued from extinction by others. Life in space feels real - for example, some people get physically sick in space.
Although the book is episodic, it also is thought provoking on issues like war and interaction with those who are not like us. The crew members act like a real family, despite their differences. I will definitely read the next book in the series.
The series would make a great TV show. A definite recommend for lovers of (mostly) light-hearted science fiction set in space.
The Galesburg Public Library owns The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet.