Book Review: Record of the Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers (Three Stars)


Book Review: Record of the Spaceborn Few (Wayfarers #3) by Becky Chambers

(Three Stars)

“A job is partly a matter of personal fulfillment, yes, but also–and perhaps chiefly–social fulfillment. When an Exodan asks ‘what do you do?’, the real question is: ‘what do you do for us?’”

Not as good as Chambers’ previous. Too many, too-similar characters. Lots of head hopping, data dumps, and “as-you-know, Bob” conversations. Had the previous books in this series not been so much better, it might have gotten another star.

“The kind of excited that occurred when the chances were good that everything would be okay, but you were still holding your breath until said okayness was a done deal.”

Good mix of viewpoints. So much so that it occasionally intrudes on the story as artificial–or at least overdone. Lots of propaganda; some subliminal suggestion, too. A certain politicized word pair occurs several dozen times.

“She looked at Pop, entropy incarnate, and wondered if his present would be her future. She wondered which of her kids would sit in the extra chair in the exam room and lament the days when she’d been awesome.”

Quibbles: 1. The inciting incident flunks space logic. How could they have built a generation ship without pressure bulkheads and automatic self-sealing doors? Then she posits a single apartment still pressurized five years later, despite the plumbing which would certainly ventilate it? 2. The whole ship design is stupid and wasteful. Honeycomb doesn’t have corridors. How do people move without destroying the structural integrity of the design?) 3. “Nothing went to waste in the Fleet.” Not true, the Sunside Joyride wastes of unrecoverable propellant. 3. “Evolution is often thought of as a glacial process, but …. Rapid environmental change can prompt rapid physical change.” No, it prompts rapid die offs. After the meteor hits is too late to evolve.

“Our species doesn’t operate by reality. It operates by stories.” “We are a longstanding species with a very short memory.”