Record of a Spaceborn Few
July 26, 2018 2:57 PM - by Becky Chambers - Subscribe

Return to the sprawling universe of the Galactic Commons, as humans, artificial intelligence, aliens, and some beings yet undiscovered explore what it means to be a community in this exciting third adventure in the acclaimed and multi-award-nominated science fiction Wayfarers series, brimming with heartwarming characters and dazzling space adventure. Hundreds of years ago, the last humans on Earth boarded the Exodus Fleet in search of a new home among the stars. After centuries spent wandering...

If you liked her first two books -- and especially the first one -- you will like this book, which is about nice people who want to help who all live together on a spaceship, except this time the ship isn't going anywhere. If you didn't like the first two, this is not going to change your mind.

Some reviews:

If you’re looking for a story stuffed full of substance, with sex and space battles and betrayals, Record of a Spaceborn Few really isn’t the book for you, but if the idea of a near silent and not at all violent novel about decent people in relatively difficult situations trying to do what’s right for them right then appeals—in other words, if you’ve enjoyed the Wayfarers series in the past—then Becky Chambers’ latest may well be the purest distillation of her characteristically smooth science fiction to date.
-Niall Ferguson,

The multiple narrators and seemingly unrelated plot lines converge thematically into an intensely powerful and multifaceted meditation on time, history, change, and memory, leavened with a welcome touch of humor. The characters are distinct and lovable, each shedding light on a different facet of the Fleet.
-Publisher's Weekly
posted by jeather (6 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
As the mother of a teen boy, the message that the kids are all right was very moving and comforting. All of these books show such real ways that imperfect parents struggle to let go, pass on their values, protect their families in uncertain times. And yet, the books also show clearly children and young adults in serious trouble, and not all endings are neatly happy.
posted by Malla at 6:50 PM on July 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

Just finished it and I loved it.

This is genuinely, deeply SFnal as any other book I've ever read. It does two very SF things at once: it mediates on the future fate of humanity, and in ways that prod the reader to challenge their assumptions (the anthropocentric hubris that humanity is extraordinary and destined for cosmic greatness); and it subversively leads its (largely Anglo-American) audience to adopt the perspective, via SF world-building, of a person in a marginalized culture at the fringe of a hegemony. It implicitly presents the reader with some of the core difficulties in developmental economics and cultural anthropology. There are Ideas at the core of the book, if that's essential to your understanding of science fiction.

It is that, but also very human and personal, grounding these ideas and themes in the daily lives of strongly characterized and diverse people -- as, I believe, all fiction should.

This easily could have been more of a conventional genre novel. All the ingredients are there. Instead, the part that could have been the heart of a potboiler is used to better and more meaningful effect as, well, a way into the heart of the book. It's a tragic, stupid death that is right at the intersection of past and future, of immigrants and emigrants, of different people moving through different stages of their lives. This is the better novel for this, because rather than the central gear of merely plot, it serves as a passage, a mechanism of transformation.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:09 PM on August 1, 2018

Just finished. Many feels. A little short on conflict. A little too tidy at the end.
Still loved it and will miss my time in it.
posted by signal at 7:02 PM on August 2, 2018

Ah, I loved this. I agree, Malla, that it was a hopeful book for a parent to read - both from the individual "kids are all right" perspective as well as from the "humans are going to be around doing their human thing someplace for a long time to come" perspective.

One of the things I love best about these books is the extremely sparing use of violence. I've been reading a lot of Star Wars novels this year and been pretty desensitized to just ridiculous amounts of combat in the fiction I read, and I love that in these books each life is precious and each incidence of violence or death is shocking and upsetting. It's so much better aligned with the actual human reality of the overwhelming majority of her readers.

I wish there were an alternate universe where Becky Chambers published these books under a man's name because I am SOOOO curious how the reception would have been different.
posted by potrzebie at 10:20 PM on August 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

I love these books. I love how small and focused they are; our protagonists aren't galaxy spanning empires or conquering heroes, they're just people being people.
posted by graventy at 8:37 AM on November 20, 2018

I'd gotten used to thinking about Chambers' books as big warm hugs from SF*, so the moment where she unceremoniously just killed Sawyer really hit me.

There's just so much I love about these books -- that they start in Long Way with the only white man in the book meekly submitting to a diversity lecture, that Ashby keeps his pacifism under stress, that there are still garbage human cultures like the one Pepper escaped from, her universe stuffed with beings that are still fundamentally just folks that can choose to understand each other, that humans really just don't matter and that most humans are speaking a literal alien language because they're refugees there... That this one ends up being sort of about how the death of someone nobody knows or particularly cares about still rattles around and affects people is just another.

*I should not have, because Lovey, but still
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 9:36 AM on November 20, 2018

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