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Author Topic: The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet - Final Discussion  (Read 6494 times)

Offline Arry

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The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet - Final Discussion
« on: September 20, 2015, 09:46:28 PM »
I really enjoyed this one! Reminded me of Retribution Falls with the crew dynamics, but with more commentary/details on the world, war and race relations and such. Definitely looking forward to the next one. There were times where Kizzy seemed a little immature, but overall it didn't bother me.

Was definitely sad when Jenks decided that the risk to put Lovey in a body was too great. Then even sadder when they lost her.

I felt for Corbin, he definitely became more likable as the story progressed and he was no longer just the grumpy algae guy that preferred to keep to himself (and yell at people about pretty much anything that irked him)
Quote
You didn't want me to be my own person. You wanted me to be a better version of you.

(sorry if my thoughts are random and incomplete, I forgot to jot down things right after I finished reading)
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Offline Nighteyes

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Re: The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet - Final Discussion
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2015, 09:17:24 PM »
I tore through this one as well! A very enjoyable read, though it was a little unpolished.  Hope Becky Chambers writes a lot more sci fi books!
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Offline Victoria Hooper

Re: The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet - Final Discussion
« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2015, 07:17:33 PM »
I was behind because I was away at the beginning of September, then rushed through it so quick! It's going to be hard to remember what happened in which section, but I'll try to give my thoughts for each week. First I want to post overall thoughts here though.

I really enjoyed this. I think it was so readable (or listenable), you really just get pulled along through it so quickly. That's actually kinda odd because the book itself is meandering and episodic, with a lot of small things happening and a lot of character development, which I would have associated with a slow book. But nope, this is totally gripping and addictive all the way through. Really well paced and well written.

I loved most of the characters, though I did find Kizzy (sorry if I misspell things - I listened to the audiobook) a little annoying at points. Most of the time she was fine though. I especially liked Ashby - such a different kind of ship captain. I loved that he was pacifist and his relationship with Pei was really touching. I also really liked Sissek and the, er, alienbuilding? (worldbuilding of the alien races) was very well done throughout.

I liked all the storylines and I thought it had a really classic space-opera TV show feel to it. Like Star Trek, with the exploration and a new mini-story each week, meeting new races and facing new ethical dilemmas, etc. But what it reminded me most of was Mass Effect. I mean, really really, this was pretty much a love letter to Mass Effect. A lot of the alien races were similar, but different enough to be interesting and not feel copied. The romance between ship member and AI and wanting to put her in a body etc was very similar to a Mass Effect storyline too, even down to some of the specific details. The atmosphere also reminded me of Mass Effect. But the overall story was very different. I personally don't mind when things are similar or show their influences. I loved Mass Effect and so I'm very happy to have something similar to it, it never feels copied or unimaginative, and I hope Becky writes more in this or another universe.

I've covered my main thoughts on the book overall. So now I want to get a bit deeper into something that happened towards the end of the book. What were people's feelings on Ohan, the Sianet pair? (sorry again if my spellings are off. This is my best guess). In particular, how did people react to him being forcefully given the cure? I was shocked by this, even though I did suspect it was going to happen at some point. The whole thing made me feel very uncomfortable and unhappy. I think it was probably written this way on purpose, to evoke a strong reaction, and then left deliberately ambiguous as to whether it was ultimately a good thing or not. I'd love to know other people's thoughts on it.

Tl;dr - I really liked the book, for many reasons. Please read my last paragraph (the one above this) for a question about a specific moment in the book.  :)

Offline xiagan

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Re: The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet - Final Discussion
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2015, 10:19:01 AM »
I've covered my main thoughts on the book overall. So now I want to get a bit deeper into something that happened towards the end of the book. What were people's feelings on Ohan, the Sianet pair? (sorry again if my spellings are off. This is my best guess). In particular, how did people react to him being forcefully given the cure? I was shocked by this, even though I did suspect it was going to happen at some point. The whole thing made me feel very uncomfortable and unhappy. I think it was probably written this way on purpose, to evoke a strong reaction, and then left deliberately ambiguous as to whether it was ultimately a good thing or not. I'd love to know other people's thoughts on it.
I, too, think it was brilliantly done for the reasons you describe. The whole story line with the cure (Sissix getting angry at her captain for not using it, Doctor Chef respecting Ohan's choice even if he isn't happy with it, ...).
I liked the way this played out, with Corbin giving him the cure. He knew he was already hated but couldn't be fired so he was the perfect choice. I think at least half the crew was secretly relieved that he did it and from what we've seen so far, over time everybody will be happy with it. Not with how it was done but with how it turned out.
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Offline xiagan

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Re: The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet - Final Discussion
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2015, 12:45:17 PM »
I liked it a lot too and I'd definitely read a follow up book. I'm curious how things with Ohan work out, how Corbin changes, if Rosemary develops deeper feelings for Sissix, how it is with Pei on board (and what her race will say to that relationship with Ashby), ...

And what I really want to know is if Jenks will meet Lovelace 2.0 in her illegal body suit at Pepper's place without realizing it and start falling in love once again with her (if you can say 'again' and 'her' in that case).

Just found a quote from Becky Chambers:
Quote
I'm currently working on a companion novel for [TLWtaSAP].
:)
"Sire, I had no need of that hypothesis." (Laplace)

Offline Nora

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Re: The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet - Final Discussion
« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2015, 01:38:26 PM »
Just found a quote from Becky Chambers:
Quote
I'm currently working on a companion novel for [TLWtaSAP].
:)

HOLY S***!!! Yes! Best news of the week.

Indeed I tore through this book as well. I upped it several notches on my TBR pile given the general excitement I felt for it on the forum, but I blame @Elfy for wildly underrating how enjoyable this book is, he should have plagued me with CAPS LOCK about it.

Anyway, I'm a lazy ass so I'll just copy paste my review :

The characters are simple, bending a tiniest bit toward the cartoonish sometimes, but mostly made realistic by the unassuming writing style, with its free flowing third person style, brushing with omniscient (imo). It felt fresh to read, it brushed on topics that left plenty to ponder on, and despite the fairly well trodden tropes used around the first character (reading her "file" to introduce her, making her a newbie to have the whole universe explained to us...) the world building was beautifully crafted, giving me plenty of things to see, and just enough to picture what isn't said, making for a paint-by-number like frame for readers to colour in.

It was refreshing in its optimism. It was refreshing because humans weren't the show runners, they were still doing mistakes, still being stupid about ludicrous things, and so were everyone else, despite trying to be on their best behaviour... somewhat. Gave enough realism to it all that I almost didn't notice the book for a willfully optimistic one. Yet it is.

Besides, as a traveler of long duration, I found the aliens complaining about humans on the ship in between themselves incredibly relatable. They described the strain of a different culture precisely as I feel it myself. There IS something comforting in the company of some of my compatriots. We have the same net of cultural background, grew up around the same classics, have the same general understanding of social rules.
I never expected feeling this strained after two years abroad. I don't mind it, but it bothers me how joyful it is to meet someone who'll say "Ta gueule!!" when I say "Il va faire tout noir!"

Alienation is just a thing. It can be between countries or between species, and this book can be read, of course, as a metaphor for our own world, if one wanted to.

I especially loved the Toremi, these strange, strange aliens surrounding that famous angry planet. I loved the way they were too alien for the aliens, how their logic had its own intricate sense we could hardly puzzle out, yet didn't need to. Too often we just don't understand what motivated the other, and that's it. Life strikes without a warning and you've got to act on it and make the best out of the situation.
The entire Toremi incident was like "life throws lemons at you" and the crew was like "shit" and did some lemonade out of it. Like we should. In that respect, and with the way the whole book had of focusing on all these personal arcs, it felt like a bildungsroman, on a short period of time with multiple characters.
"She will need coffee soon, or molecular degeneration will set in. Her French phrasing will take over even more strongly, and soon she will dissolve into a puddle of alienation and Kierkegaardian despair."  ~ Jmack

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Offline Cambra

Re: The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet - Final Discussion
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2015, 07:03:55 PM »
This was a pleasant enough meander but... I found it a bit too simplistic.

Yes, in my view Rosemary was a bit of a Mary Sue throughout and I felt no particular attachment to her, which was probably a sticking point when it came to feeling involved in the action. She seemed to be a bit of a cut and paste character.

I liked Corbin best, guess that says quite a lot about me, but even his crisis (every character seemed to have a crisis almost by rote) didn't seem close enough to the bone, there was no point at which I worried for him. I knew he would be alright and he was...  Disappointing.

Overall the book didn't engage me, it didn't pull me in and it didn't surprise me... It was OK but I really can't give it more than that.

« Last Edit: November 05, 2015, 07:05:34 PM by Cambra »

Offline Nora

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Re: The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet - Final Discussion
« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2015, 11:35:51 PM »
I honestly think that Rosemary is answering to the common fact (if not trope) of a rather bland main character, surrounded by more fascinating characters. Sanderson mentions that at length in one of his lectures.
It often helps people associate to the MC and project unto him/her. They become the one with the cool friends/terrible enemies, instead of an MC full of exuberant characteristics.

I honestly don't get what's wrong with Corbin, or Rosemary, or any of the characters, ever really getting in lethal danger.
I can understand how some sci-fi amateurs would pick such a book, with such a title, expecting adventures and high stakes and hell-bent villains... But I really don't mind the lack of it either. These characters face believable crisis. The loss of a lover. The fear of your real identity turning you into a paria. Homesickness. The fear of losing everything for a forbidden love. Facing responsability, internal demons... It makes them incredibly real, because I could fit in any of these shoes.
And I felt like I did. I understand what it's like to be parano after an attack in your home. Or to be tired of "aliens" around me, though mine speak english. I also very precisely know what abandoning your family and your name feel like  ;D

While I can understand your critic, I think it's the very things that made the book better for me. In my opinion, it's more literary in nature, with a flowing set of character arcs with ups and downs but no general set backs. The story could have been in the 19th century with crew mates on a boat, given the framing of the novel.
And that's great, I'm a big Patrick O'Brian fan.  :D
"She will need coffee soon, or molecular degeneration will set in. Her French phrasing will take over even more strongly, and soon she will dissolve into a puddle of alienation and Kierkegaardian despair."  ~ Jmack

Wishy washy lyricism and maudlin unrequited love are my specialty - so said Lady_Ty

Offline Elfy

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Re: The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet - Final Discussion
« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2015, 05:27:25 AM »
I honestly think that Rosemary is answering to the common fact (if not trope) of a rather bland main character, surrounded by more fascinating characters. Sanderson mentions that at length in one of his lectures.
It often helps people associate to the MC and project unto him/her. They become the one with the cool friends/terrible enemies, instead of an MC full of exuberant characteristics.

I honestly don't get what's wrong with Corbin, or Rosemary, or any of the characters, ever really getting in lethal danger.
I can understand how some sci-fi amateurs would pick such a book, with such a title, expecting adventures and high stakes and hell-bent villains... But I really don't mind the lack of it either. These characters face believable crisis. The loss of a lover. The fear of your real identity turning you into a paria. Homesickness. The fear of losing everything for a forbidden love. Facing responsability, internal demons... It makes them incredibly real, because I could fit in any of these shoes.
And I felt like I did. I understand what it's like to be parano after an attack in your home. Or to be tired of "aliens" around me, though mine speak english. I also very precisely know what abandoning your family and your name feel like  ;D

While I can understand your critic, I think it's the very things that made the book better for me. In my opinion, it's more literary in nature, with a flowing set of character arcs with ups and downs but no general set backs. The story could have been in the 19th century with crew mates on a boat, given the framing of the novel.
And that's great, I'm a big Patrick O'Brian fan.  :D
I think one of the things that Becky did really well was create a very believable world. There's one bit where the captain tries to think about a sport to make himself less nervous and another casual reference to a performance by a popular musical act. These are real things that we experience all the time and I've often wondered why they don't appear more in books (either SF or fantasy), it gave the world a sense of reality. Then of course she peopled it with all these awesome characters. I so loved Dr Chef.
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Offline tebakutis

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Re: The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet - Final Discussion
« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2015, 12:26:51 AM »
But what it reminded me most of was Mass Effect. I mean, really really, this was pretty much a love letter to Mass Effect. A lot of the alien races were similar, but different enough to be interesting and not feel copied. The romance between ship member and AI and wanting to put her in a body etc was very similar to a Mass Effect storyline too, even down to some of the specific details. The atmosphere also reminded me of Mass Effect. But the overall story was very different. I personally don't mind when things are similar or show their influences. I loved Mass Effect and so I'm very happy to have something similar to it, it never feels copied or unimaginative, and I hope Becky writes more in this or another universe.

THIS. Right here. I didn't get to read this book with you guys, but I did finish it just tonight, and I was getting that Mass Effect vibe throughout.

In particular, Victoria will probably know what I'm talking about when I say the point where the ship came across the world of solitaries - and Ashby and Kizzy went to trade for tech, and got the full story about the Whisperer and Ohan - totally felt like a "loyalty mission" from ME2. An optional story you seek out that ties only tangentially to the main thread, one they could have ignored. It even has a "gray moral choice" at the end (a Bioware staple!) when the crew has differing opinions about curing Ohan against his will, or letting him die.

I think many non-gamers will see Star Trek influences here, but I honestly didn't get that. I'm not knocking Star Trek, but the vast majority of its races have very "human" emotions - Klingons are more agressive, Vulcans are more logical, Romulans are somewhere in between - but they all work within a modified framework that's still recognizably human.

The aliens in Mass Effect (like the aliens in this book) have all sorts of cultures, and ways of interacting, and wacky beliefs or habits, and unique elements that make them feel truly alien. The GC (with it's four senior races) felt very much like the Council from Mass Effect, right down the fact that humans were new to the GC (as in Mass Effect) and rather untested (but turned out to prove themselves!). And I also see the similarity with the romance between Sissix and Rosemary, and Shepherd (female) and Liara.

Finally, Jenks in love with Lovey? That's totally Joker and EDI from Mass Effect 3, right down to the same dilemma of putting her in a body or not putting her in a body, and Jenks being small (in ME3, Joker has a degenerative bone disease, putting him in a similar 'other' predicament). In ME3, of course, it wasn't quite the same dilemma, since EDI could be in her body and her ship at the same time, using her body like a shuttle to land on planets and interact with crew - whereas Lovey would be cut off from the ship if she took a body. But still, the fact that they faced questions about their relationship felt similar.

So, overall, I did enjoy the book, and I liked it as a collection of stories with a very subtle through line (punching the hole). But the similarities to Mass Effect were staring me in the face the whole time. That's not a bad thing at all (my latest project is drawing directly on Ghost in the Shell and Psycho-Pass, shamelessly so) but I'd really like to know what Becky Chambers's background is in regard to videogames.

If she hasn't played the ME series, she should consider applying for a job at Bioware. :)
« Last Edit: November 11, 2015, 12:30:45 AM by tebakutis »

Offline Elfy

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Re: The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet - Final Discussion
« Reply #10 on: November 11, 2015, 05:44:15 AM »
But what it reminded me most of was Mass Effect. I mean, really really, this was pretty much a love letter to Mass Effect. A lot of the alien races were similar, but different enough to be interesting and not feel copied. The romance between ship member and AI and wanting to put her in a body etc was very similar to a Mass Effect storyline too, even down to some of the specific details. The atmosphere also reminded me of Mass Effect. But the overall story was very different. I personally don't mind when things are similar or show their influences. I loved Mass Effect and so I'm very happy to have something similar to it, it never feels copied or unimaginative, and I hope Becky writes more in this or another universe.

THIS. Right here. I didn't get to read this book with you guys, but I did finish it just tonight, and I was getting that Mass Effect vibe throughout.

In particular, Victoria will probably know what I'm talking about when I say the point where the ship came across the world of solitaries - and Ashby and Kizzy went to trade for tech, and got the full story about the Whisperer and Ohan - totally felt like a "loyalty mission" from ME2. An optional story you seek out that ties only tangentially to the main thread, one they could have ignored. It even has a "gray moral choice" at the end (a Bioware staple!) when the crew has differing opinions about curing Ohan against his will, or letting him die.

I think many non-gamers will see Star Trek influences here, but I honestly didn't get that. I'm not knocking Star Trek, but the vast majority of its races have very "human" emotions - Klingons are more agressive, Vulcans are more logical, Romulans are somewhere in between - but they all work within a modified framework that's still recognizably human.

The aliens in Mass Effect (like the aliens in this book) have all sorts of cultures, and ways of interacting, and wacky beliefs or habits, and unique elements that make them feel truly alien. The GC (with it's four senior races) felt very much like the Council from Mass Effect, right down the fact that humans were new to the GC (as in Mass Effect) and rather untested (but turned out to prove themselves!). And I also see the similarity with the romance between Sissix and Rosemary, and Shepherd (female) and Liara.

Finally, Jenks in love with Lovey? That's totally Joker and EDI from Mass Effect 3, right down to the same dilemma of putting her in a body or not putting her in a body, and Jenks being small (in ME3, Joker has a degenerative bone disease, putting him in a similar 'other' predicament). In ME3, of course, it wasn't quite the same dilemma, since EDI could be in her body and her ship at the same time, using her body like a shuttle to land on planets and interact with crew - whereas Lovey would be cut off from the ship if she took a body. But still, the fact that they faced questions about their relationship felt similar.

So, overall, I did enjoy the book, and I liked it as a collection of stories with a very subtle through line (punching the hole). But the similarities to Mass Effect were staring me in the face the whole time. That's not a bad thing at all (my latest project is drawing directly on Ghost in the Shell and Psycho-Pass, shamelessly so) but I'd really like to know what Becky Chambers's background is in regard to videogames.

If she hasn't played the ME series, she should consider applying for a job at Bioware. :)
Becky does write essays about games and pop culture. I'm not a gamer at all, so I never got the ME vibe or references, but it's fair bet to say that the author has probably played it.
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Offline Nora

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Re: The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet - Final Discussion
« Reply #11 on: November 11, 2015, 05:55:44 AM »
Well, she's a WoW hardcore player, so I'm sure that isn't out of her reach indeed.  :P
"She will need coffee soon, or molecular degeneration will set in. Her French phrasing will take over even more strongly, and soon she will dissolve into a puddle of alienation and Kierkegaardian despair."  ~ Jmack

Wishy washy lyricism and maudlin unrequited love are my specialty - so said Lady_Ty

Offline Jeni

Re: The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet - Final Discussion
« Reply #12 on: May 22, 2016, 03:58:07 AM »
Jenks and Lovey  :'( :'(

The Mass Effect influence went straight over my head so this was all completely new for me.

I've covered my main thoughts on the book overall. So now I want to get a bit deeper into something that happened towards the end of the book. What were people's feelings on Ohan, the Sianet pair? (sorry again if my spellings are off. This is my best guess). In particular, how did people react to him being forcefully given the cure? I was shocked by this, even though I did suspect it was going to happen at some point. The whole thing made me feel very uncomfortable and unhappy. I think it was probably written this way on purpose, to evoke a strong reaction, and then left deliberately ambiguous as to whether it was ultimately a good thing or not. I'd love to know other people's thoughts on it.
I, too, think it was brilliantly done for the reasons you describe. The whole story line with the cure (Sissix getting angry at her captain for not using it, Doctor Chef respecting Ohan's choice even if he isn't happy with it, ...).
I liked the way this played out, with Corbin giving him the cure. He knew he was already hated but couldn't be fired so he was the perfect choice. I think at least half the crew was secretly relieved that he did it and from what we've seen so far, over time everybody will be happy with it. Not with how it was done but with how it turned out.

I'm torn. Part of my head was screaming for someone to catch Corbin and stop him because what he was doing was purely for his own selfish ends - he didn't want to have to deal with the trauma that the rest of the crew would suffer when Ohan died - Corbin had no right to make that decision. The fact that Ohan  recovered and was clearly grateful to still be alive left me uncomfortable, too. Does the end justify the means? - My answer to this is usually a firm No. But I was very relieved that Ohan survived - and I am aware that if this had been an event I had been involved in personally, I would probably be more traumatised by guilt (I would have let him die because that was what they said they wanted - but it turns out that that was just the virus dominating Ohan and not what Ohan wanted after all) than grief. Hours of head-shrinkage would definitely be required for me to be able to live with that decision!!

Quote
I think many non-gamers will see Star Trek influences here

Me, not so much....more Firefly and Red Dwarf and Stargate and maybe a smidgeon of Andromeda  (a ship which had a sentient AI).

Quote
It was refreshing in its optimism. It was refreshing because humans weren't the show runners, they were still doing mistakes, still being stupid about ludicrous things, and so were everyone else, despite trying to be on their best behaviour... somewhat. Gave enough realism to it all that I almost didn't notice the book for a willfully optimistic one. Yet it is.

I liked this about the book too - it kind of sneaks up on you while you are too busy caring about the characters!  :)

Overall, I loved this book!  :D
I will certainly be picking up the sequel - I've had a peek at the blurb now and it seems to focus largely on Pepper helping Lovelace to adapt and integrate .... Pepper said something in passing hat has me wondering if she has done this before - or if maybe she is herself an AI.