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Record of a Spaceborn Few: Wayfarers 3 Paperback – 7 Mar 2019
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PRAISE FOR RECORD OF A SPACEBORN FEW:
The best speculative fiction currently being written . . . Becky Chambers is a wonder, and I feel better for having her books in my life (John Connolly, author of the Charlie Parker Thrillers)
Richly human, believable [and] compelling . . . underlain with a deep compassion and a feeling for community (Tor.com)
Terrific. . . a masterly exploration of characterisation and diversity wrapped in intensity, heartbreak and tension (Joanne Harris, author of Chocolat)
An intensely powerful and multifaceted meditation on time, history, change, and memory, leavened with a welcome touch of humor . . . This is a superb work from one of the genre's rising stars. (Publishers Weekly)
This novel was exactly what I hoped it would be and more . . . Moving in what feels like small personal ways but is actually big, universal ways and it is uplifting on the same scale (Forbidden Planet)
An emotional, moving look at what it means to be human, and the importance of heritage and legacy (Lauren James, author of The Loneliest Girl in the Universe)
Both fascinating and entertaining... Becky's portrayal of humanity is generous, kind and honest (Geneveive Cogman, author of The Forbidden Library)
Checks all the boxes . . . driven by well-drawn, likable, and diverse characters in a complex future world. (Barnes & Noble)
'Relatable characters in a fascinating universe . . . the writing uplifts and captivates' (Gareth Powell, author of Embers of War)
From the ground, we stand. From our ship, we live. By the stars, we hope: The incredible new novel by Becky Chambers, author of the beloved The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet: 'a quietly profound, humane tour de force.' (Guardian).See all Product description
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I finished this book and had an overwhelming feeling of 'so what?'. I didn't care strongly enough about any of the characters to feel particularly pleased or displeased about the outcomes of their journeys and the key theme of the book - change - just lacked a strong hook or meaningful impact. Or the stories weren't able to make an impact with it. An issue made worse by the fact that there were a lot more key characters this time and with the author keeping within the same word limit as previously chapters were very short and lacked substance as there was a different character story each chapter. Meaning it was difficult to keep track as you jump so quickly from plot arc to plot arc and stories never really developed properly. It all just felt… watered down.
Given that I love the author's writing I would rather have had the same amount of characters but a longer book to accommodate deeper stories. On the whole though, I think the weaker key theme of this book was its undoing - it wasn't impactful enough in the stories told. The theme of change means far more to the fleet itself but even then, only in the future outside of the stories told here. This book almost sets the stage for something significant at a later date, but what that does is reduce it, in effect, to a simple footnote in the timeline of the universe she is crafting.
Maybe the change in editor part way through was significant too and this would have been addressed if there was continuity. Either way the book isn't the best if I'm honest. Standalone or in the context of comparison to the previous two. Had she not written two such amazing ones before she may have gotten away with it, but they are there and this book is lacking by the inevitable comparison and it has undoubtedly factored in the rating I am giving it.
I started out enjoying the well written characters and the nicely paced storyline about the 'Fleet' then very briefly was concerned that not a great deal was happening but, and this sums the book up I read it in two days because it's very well written with an unobtrusive style and the characters are well fleshed out and believable. As you read you are slowly given more and more information about the 'Fleet' and the difficulties it faces and the evolution of its place in the GC (Galactic Commons) and that is the story/plot whatever you wish to call it.
So yes I would recommend it ...and put it with Becky Chambers other books in the series and the Ancillary series by Anne Leckie.
The book touches on many themes of what it means to be human, the importance of maintaining tradition while adapting, and the conflicts that come from the tension between the two.
I can't wait for her next story!
Once I got my bearings though, this was the same well-written, quietly powerful, character-focused SF I know and love Becky Chambers for. Of particular note is the bodybuilding in this series - the history, the aliens, the languages, the structure of the fleet all feels very well thought out, and it's both a plausible (or at least internally consistent) future and a hopeful one, which is something we don't see enough of.