the long way to a small angry planet


Are There Lesbians? Yes

What Happens?
A motley crew aboard the Wayfarer, a space-ship designed to build wormholes between parts of space, is given the opportunity of a lifetime but they are aboard their ship for a long time at once, and long-held secrets are about to be revealed.

The Verdict:
I just genuinely enjoyed this book so much. It is not necessarily light-hearted, and it has the ability to become quite gut-wrenching in parts, but it creates a reaction through a build-up of genuine emotion. This is less a space-novel and more a novel about family, especially found family, which happens to be in space. It is extremely character-driven and there is something to love, or to love to hate, about everyone. Mostly I tend not to love books from alternating points of view, but I found that it really helped to get inside individuals heads, and there wasn’t one particular character I loved way more than all the others (though I definitely have soft-spots for Sissix and Jenks).

There is queer romance here too! Though I find myself hesitating to call it romance because I personally believe that one of the women involved is coded aromantic. Forget interracial relationships, interspecies relationships are now where it’s at, and it’s one of the sweetest things I think I have ever read. In a similar vein, there is lots of conjecture about the sentience of AI and whether they are able to love, as well as where the line between human and machine is. One of the many questions the novel asks is what make people people – not even what makes humans human, but what makes sentience. I feel that this theme will only be explored further in the sequel, a closed and common orbit. One of the characters is in love with the ships AI and theirs is a beautiful Romeo and Juliet-esque story that was both uplifting and also terribly heartbreaking. The romances in the long way to a small angry planet are not the main focus of the novel, but they add a lovely touch to the interpersonal relationships both onboard the ship and off. They uplift rather than derail the story, and they are not the main focus for the characters, often they are the natural conclusion of a series of interactions.

There is a certain episodic quality to the novel where there is a new problem to be faced each chapter. This was enjoyable but I would have liked a bit more of certain chapters or storylines. Especially after Sissix and Rosemary start their relationship, I was sad that there are no more chapters from either of their point of views as I would have loved to see how they navigated their relationship. That being said, by not showing their point of view, there is a detraction from a romance which has the potential to suffocate the novel. Instead we get to focus on the outcome of an attack on the Wayfarer and what this means for Lovey, the ship’s AI, and the rest of the crew members as they each deal with the results of certain choices. The last few chapters made me feel so many emotions I wasn’t prepared to feel – up until that point I don’t think I had quite realised how gripped I had been by the world of the story. I had fallen completely in love with the (literal) universe and am super psyched to jump back in with a closed and common orbit.

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