A Close and Common Orbit book review

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The closest picture I have to an alien

I’m suffering the consequences of my gleeful debut working in the garden for the year. It was so nice to be out there and get mud on my hands that I stayed out too long. As I sit here, I can feel that I paid the price in my back, hands and glutes. So, since then I’ve been spending my evenings couch sitting doing a lot of reading.

I don’t consider myself qualified to discuss writing – if I don’t stumble over the words, or have to wade though overly verbose language, I won’t notice the words just the story. I recently heard this sentiment described more eloquently – prose is like a window pane, it can be a beautiful stain glass window atop a story or clear glass (or anywhere in between). Some people like looking through the stained glass masterpiece, but I like the clear glass.

However, since stories are a fundamental part of being human, I am qualified to discuss stories I like. And I’ve recently found one – A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers.

It’s a sequel of sorts to The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, (which I was going to write a review for and still might), but I just finished A Closed and Common Orbit last night and something about it really resonated with me.

Recently, I’ve been feeling inundated with news of public figures trying to exclude entire groups of people, it was so nice to read a book with such a sense of inclusiveness with vastly different sorts of people (and aliens) living together in a working society.

It’s a world with sentient AI’s, but they are not considered people and it’s illegal for them to take the form of a sentient being. The story follows an AI newly in a human form struggling to fit into her world. The book is science fiction, but not action. Even though they live on a tidally locked moon far off in the galaxy, it’s a very human story.

The world is complex and not without conflict, but it’s a future could live in. The characters are complex and flawed enough they could really exist. I hope she writes more stories set in this future.

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