A Closed and Common Orbit (Wayfarer's Guide #2)
July 30, 2019 10:26 AM - by Becky Chambers - Subscribe

Lovelace was once merely a ship's artificial intelligence. When she wakes up in an new body, following a total system shut-down and reboot, she has no memory of what came before. As Lovelace learns to negotiate the universe and discover who she is, she makes friends with Pepper, an excitable engineer, who's determined to help her learn and grow.
posted by dinty_moore (13 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
When I started this book I was expecting more of a direct sequel to the first Wayfarers book, but I still enjoyed this a whole lot. I liked Pepper's backstory, and the reasons why that would make her want to be nice to AIs in need. I've read all three Wayfarer books and this one is my favorite.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 10:47 AM on July 30, 2019 [5 favorites]

I'm surely not an expert, but I thought this book was a really great dive into what kind of motivations and experiences an A.I. might have in the world. The difficulty that Lovelace has transitioning from being a ship to being a person and the solution of making her more than a person while still able to control her own destiny all seem very plausible.
posted by dellsolace at 12:30 PM on July 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

I not only enjoyed the story of Lovelace, but also the origins of her "foster parents (?)" and how they escaped from the horrible clone/junkyard planet. This is my second favorite of the three books. I actually like the third one the best, where you get a look at life in the Exodus Fleet. I like the first book the least, although I still liked it quite a bit. I think my experience is not typical-- fans seem to adore the first book, and feel disappointed by the next two.
posted by seasparrow at 8:51 PM on July 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

I really loved this book. I now think of it more as an exploration of what it feels to be uncomfortable in your own body, rather than a reflection about AI.
I also don't mind the fact that it's not a sequel - I like that the auther spends time exploring the universe they created. I think this one is still my favorite, even though the third one has some of the most touching passages on death.
posted by motdiem2 at 3:07 AM on July 31, 2019 [2 favorites]

This is my favorite book of the series -- Pepper's story was so fascinating. I also liked having such a deep dive into Lovelace's unique perspective. I don't think I've ever read a story from the perspective of an AI earnestly/genuinely trying to assimilate into biological society. Or at least, I've never read a story like that with a happy ending.
posted by rue72 at 6:50 AM on July 31, 2019 [3 favorites]

This was my favorite of the series, too. I was liking it and then got to the part where teenaged Pepper talks about her feelings with the education program and then I was sobbing and reading the second half all in one go.

I'd liked A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, but found it a little heavy on the setup, and am still sorting out my feelings on Record of a Spaceborn Few.

I don't think I've ever read a story from the perspective of an AI earnestly/genuinely trying to assimilate into biological society. Or at least, I've never read a story like that with a happy ending.

Same, at least not one where the happy ending isn't them no longer being AI. This is another story about passing and dysphoria, and the difference between erasing one's identity and negotiating with it in a hostile (to them) environment; there's something so nice about the way that the ending validates that specific need.

And I like that Sidra/Lovey gets a friend who understands her at the end <3.

I was waiting for Jenks to show up, and am kind of glad he didn't? The only thing that Jenks showing up would really do is act as outside validation that Sidra was a different person from Original Lovey, but I don't think anyone in the story needs to be told that.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:28 AM on July 31, 2019 [5 favorites]

> "... fans seem to adore the first book, and feel disappointed by the next two."

I think this is the best *written* book of the three. I might still like the first one a little bit more, but I'm definitely a fan of this one.

The third one, I came around to appreciating for what it was. I like the other two more, but Record of a Spaceborn Few did end up growing on me a bit.
posted by kyrademon at 12:25 PM on July 31, 2019 [1 favorite]

This sounds interesting...can it be read without reading the first one?
posted by praemunire at 2:40 PM on July 31, 2019

Some parts of it might be confusing (mostly the worldbuilding), but there does seem to be a wiki for the series so you can look up whatever alien crosses your path.

Otherwise, it's pretty much a stand-alone. Lovey/Sidra doesn't remember anything that happened in the first book, Pepper was a side character, and none of the other characters from the first book appear in this one.
posted by dinty_moore at 2:45 PM on July 31, 2019

Honestly, I got confused about the order of the series and read it first thinking that it was the first book. I only realized I was wrong after I’d finished it and went to buy the others (because I’d enjoyed it so much).

It’s basically a stand-alone. The books in the series are more like stories set in the same universe than they are sequels/prequels to each other.
posted by rue72 at 3:22 PM on July 31, 2019 [1 favorite]

I read this one first. It works fine. There's a certain amount of in media res, but (simplified) the main viewpoint character has irrecoverably lost her memory of the events preceding this book, which makes most of it irrelevant. There are very occasional references to specific events/character which might be confusing, but none of them are hard to understand contextually. I had no trouble following the worldbuilding at all.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 10:30 AM on August 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

I loved this book so much, because it had one of my favorite plot lines... an escape and survival story. I did read these in order, and thought the first book was really wonderful, but this was my favorite of the three. As others have said, the third book in an interesting part of world building, but didn't hit me the same way as the first two. I'm very eager for more from Becky Chambers.
posted by kimdog at 6:43 AM on August 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

My favorite too!
posted by exceptinsects at 1:59 PM on August 9, 2019

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