Becky Chamber’s debut novel, The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet is probably the most fun that you’ll have with a space opera novel this year. It’s exciting, adventurous, and the cozy sort of space opera that seems to be in short supply lately ... As a novel, this is a book that’s less interested in putting together an enormously structured story than it is in examining the lives of the characters ... Chambers is doing something ambitious here - the focus is on the mix of characters that have all come together to form the crew of the Wayfarer ... As we follow these characters, we learn an incredible amount about the world that surrounds them and it stacks up against the best space opera universes ... it’s a novel with a lot of love and affection thrown into its characters, world and story, and it’s easily the most fun that I’ve had with a novel in a long, long time.
Imagine smashing the groundbreaking, breathtaking science fiction of Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch saga against the salty space opera of The Expanse; The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet lacks the wall-to-wall action of that latter, and some of the former’s finesse, yes—nevertheless, Becky Chambers’ debut is a delight ... The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet feels more like a miniseries than a movie: a smart, Showtime sort of something led not by narrative but by a distinctive and refreshingly diverse cast of characters, each of whom plays a role in the whole in addition to having his or her—or indeed xyr—moment in the speculative spotlight ... It may be more of a soap opera in space than a proper space opera, but the ensemble is sensitively incepted and deftly directed, and in the final summation, the fiction’s sfnal elements, wrapped up as they are in character rather than narrative, feel far from superfluous ... this delightful debut isn’t really about the eponymous angry planet—it’s about the long way there—so whilst I wish its destination had been better developed, the journey? A genuine joy.
...Chambers’s debut is SF for the Tumblr generation, a feel-good tale of non-conformity, gender fluidity, multiculturalism and unorthodox sexual relationships ... There isn’t much plot ... En route to its next job it traverses a troubled galaxy, and those on board — be they human, alien or AI — banter, clash, quip, suffer setbacks, and are There For Each Other. It’s all perfectly pleasant, if somewhat lacking in dramatic tension.