Five Stars (provisional)
“Life is terrifying. None of us have a rule book. None of us know what we’re doing here.”
Great story; great storytelling. Starts where The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet stopped, but is not a sequel. It’s even better. Largely a different cast. A different story; a different kind of story. Reflective and introspective; action is de-emphasized. Parallel stories intertwine before coming together.
She “hung on tight, more grateful for that weird alien hug then she’d been for anything in a long time.”
That said, Chambers explores some universal philosophic questions in a hard, deep science fiction setting. The comparison with Asimov’s I, Robot stories is inevitable, and Chambers may be better. Certainly she’s taken advantage of the technical and historic advances of the last seventy years.
“War is a stupid way to spend resources and the precious time we have, but … we’re [not] ready to dismantle our gunships yet.”
I get that profanity has an innate attraction to adolescents, but Chambers was unnecessarily specific. An avoidable shortcut.
“A whole building set aside for stuff you couldn’t use, couldn’t fix, and would get rid of. Now that was the mark of people who had it good.”
Quibble: A computer core which requires a huge housing, cooling and power when installed in a space ship is inserted in the belly of a humanoid kit which generates sufficient power and cooling while mimicking life function? Even Chambers wrestles with the illogic eventually.
“There are few better ways to know how [beings] thinks than to learn their art.”
Nice cover art; has nothing to do with the story.
“‘I’m going to die here.’ Saying the words out loud made her feel even more afraid.”