Book Review: Becky Chambers’ universe gets smaller in A Closed And Common Orbit

At first glance, Becky Chambers’ debut, The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet, felt like sci-fi you’ve read or watched before—a crew of misfit aliens on a ship, setting aside their differences to work together on a mission. But in Chambers’ galaxy, the mission is the least important part of the story. The fate of worlds aren’t at stake; there’s no Death Star to be destroyed or MacGuffin to be recovered; there isn’t really even a villain. The book was far more concerned with the relationships between its characters, who were paired off in various combinations in each chapter.

Fortunately, it’s those relationships where Chambers excels. She has a gift for creating alien biology, culture, and social mores with far more depth and complexity than anything Star Trek‘s forehead-of-the-week makeup department could churn out. Scaly, feathered Aandrisks, who treat physical contact the …

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