Cover Image: The Galaxy, and the Ground Within

The Galaxy, and the Ground Within

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Free copy provided by netgalley in exchange for an honest review

This is hands down my favorite of the series. I love the way this series explores life in all its forms and the relationships that are built and destroyed because of that. There is always that cozy vibe of a warm blanket throughout this book even though we are following several characters none of which are human. I loved that element the most. I especially loved getting all the world-building and watching as the characters navigate this disaster and each other. This was an exquisite delight and I can't wait to re-read it
Was this review helpful?
Becky Chambers is an amazing author who has created a wonderful science fiction world. The Galaxy and the Ground Within is a fitting conclusion to a such a wholesome series.
Was this review helpful?
The fourth installment in Becky Chambers’ Wayfarers series brings readers along on a quieter space adventure than the previous volumes. A cast of mismatched, entirely non-human crews of several spaceships are stranded by a telecommunications accident on a remote planet. These widely varying species of sapients learn to relate to each other in bold new ways through their shared needs. With a cast of characters that will fascinate readers, Chambers once again shows her sci-fi expertise.
Was this review helpful?
I just loved it! I've read the first three in the series but it's been a little while, but this threw me back into the world of Aeluons, Aandrisks, modders, wormhole space travel, and feel good character's trying to find their way and their own meaning in life. 
The fact that it was about strangers thrown together at a random, small "town" (planet) truck stop who then connected with each other and learned things about themselves and became more accepting - made me love it more. Some scifi readers might not like these books, but if you like her others, I think you'll like this. I loved it. 
The author is so creative and she brings in discussions about gender, body autonomy, parenthood, colonialism, War, genocide, discrimination, all through these sweet aliens you grow to know and love! It's like a warm hug and a cup of hot tea in a book.
Was this review helpful?
Gora is a planet with absolutely nothing going for it — no native life, no atmosphere, nothing — except for its location at the conjunction of five wormholes, making it the perfect place for habitat domes to set up shop as the truck stop of the galaxy. When Gora's satellite shuttles are destroyed during a routine maintenance job, five people of four different species (none human) are stuck together in the Five-Hop One-Stop's dome, biding their time until the skies are clear enough for them to continue their travels. Over the space of a few days, they learn that despite their differences, they have much more in common than they ever expected.

After reading this, I have several emotions swirling around my brain. First, contentment at having read a stellar book full of kindness and consideration and just a bit of action. Second, sadness that this is the final book in Chambers' phenomenal Wayfarers series. Third, joy that I can reread those books whenever I want (and you can bet I will). Fourth, amazement at Chambers' ability to tackle so many heady topics with such care and control without making this seem like a sermon. And finally, anticipation at what she'll do next. Bring it on!
Was this review helpful?
Becky Chambers is fantastic at setting a wistful, warm tone in her work, and I am so excited to see where she goes next. This is a wonderful return to the Galactic Commons.
Was this review helpful?
This book is truly wonderful. Although I wasn't sure how it was going to work based on the premise, I never doubted Chambers because this whole series has been an absolute delight. Something I really appreciate about the books is that while reading them in order helps, it isn't strictly necessary. I class these books as cozy scifi - while there's massive intergalactic space stuff happening, they're really about the people just living their lives. The construction of the book is masterful and brings together disparate storylines in an authentic way. The adventure here is small and contained, focusing on isolated problems that all connect to something larger. I have to say, the ending got me straight in the heart. It just... capped everything off in the most perfect way.
Was this review helpful?
Gora is a pretty unremarkable planet. It is basically a rock with no water or air. It is a sort of rest stop on the way to somewhere else. The Five-Hop-One-Stop is a rest station on Gora where you can get food or fuel and take a break from driving your ship. It is run by an alien mom and her child. After an incident traps a group of strangers on the planet, they are forced to get to know each other. They come from various species, backgrounds etc.

This is the sort of laid-back, contemplative sci-fi that I've come to expect from Becky Chamber's Wayfarer's series. Here we don't have TOO much going on, just a lot of conversations and thoughts. Different people, different beliefs that all come to understand each other a little more after being forced to spend time together. As usual there are aspects of sexuality and gender that play a part in the story that Chambers is telling. This is inclusive, feel-good fiction at its best.

What to listen to while reading...
Alien Days by MGMT
Habits (Hippie Sabotage Remix) by Tove Lo
Breathless by Caroline Polachek
home with you by FKA Twigs
Feeling Lonely by boy pablo
Horizons by Surfaces
Was this review helpful?
3 stars, <a href="https://reviews.metaphorosis.com/review/the-galaxy-and-the-ground-within-becky-chambers/">Metaphorosis Reviews</a>

<strong>Summary</strong>
A set of strangers of different species have each stopped at a planetary waystation for a layover, but are trapped together for a long period, and get to know each other. 

<strong>Review</strong>
My reading of this series is not ideal – the first book and this last one. From what I’ve read, though, and from what I’ve heard of the intervening books, I’m not too sorry about it. Many people seem to love this series, and there are certainly things to like about it. I found this book, though, as with the first one – <em>The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet </em>– extremely slow going.

This book appears intended to wrap up and intertwine the threads of several of the series’ characters – all of different species. Perhaps due to that, it read to me more like an exploration of those species than a story in itself. We learn heaps and heaps about each species – almost as if Chambers is throwing into this last book all the neat stuff she thought up and hadn’t found a place for until now. It’s xenologically interesting, but doesn’t make for great plot.

The other thing that wore on me – both in this book and to some extent the last – is that all the characters are relentlessly good. They have different opinions, they argue (a little), but they’re all good people trying to do good things. I liked them all, but all good and no bad made for low tension, and, frankly, low credibility. When have you spent a long time with a group of strangers not one of whom has any major bad traits – or even minor ones that get a little annoying? Every character here is endlessly interested in learning about others, reforming their own behaviour, and deeply comprehending others’ viewpoints. I agree with all those things; I think they’re important in the real world. But I also have a hard time suspending my disbelief that everyone would act that way.

Maybe Chambers set out to write an optimistic novel, to counterbalance the grimdark there’s so much of. If so, she succeeded. Unfortunately, optimistic as it is, I also didn’t find it enthralling. It was a pleasant read, but felt very long and slow-moving.

<strong>I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.</strong>
Was this review helpful?
Becky Chambers has done it again. She's given us her trademark standout culturebuilding, imaginative xenotypes, and inclusive characters. She's given us a reflective, heavily character-driven interplay with ample opportunity for introspection and extrospection. Her subtle touch at revealing the messiness and tension present with the intersection of diverse cultures and perspectives, even under a veneer of pleasantry, is masterful. Readers who enjoyed the other entries in the 'Wayfarers' series will find themselves on familiar ground here, with this one probably farthest toward the character-driven and reflective vs. plot-driven and fast-paced end of the spectrum.

With a motley group of non-humans unexpectedly trapped together in a literal bubble and forced to reckon with their biases, ignorances, and internal conflicts, Chambers has given us perhaps the perfect novel to reflect on our time in pandemic life. Ultimately, she has demonstrated once again that realism and optimism in speculative fiction need not be mutually exclusive.

4 Stars; Hopeful and Excellent
Was this review helpful?
This is. Story about nothing specific & it’s beautiful.

As usual, Becky Chambers has created something beautiful. strange and lovely.  This book didn’t have a particular plot, but the character driven emotional resonance was impeccably crafted.  There were also pockets of humor that made me laugh out loud, and the usual touches of humanity (even among the non humans) that left me crying,  I’ll read anything she writes!

Thank you so much NetGalley and Harper Voyager for this eARC!
Was this review helpful?
I think Becky Chambers writes the best societies I've read in a very long time. I used to write papers on the Darkover series by Marion Zimmer Bradley and my opinion would be that (human) society would eventually develop along paths we are used to seeing, despite their technological differences.  Becky shows us that different SPECIES can absorb and accept each other's differences and form communities.  Why can't we wrap our heads around that as members of different societies?  This is a fabulous story, and you don't have to have read the others, but you will love them ❤
Was this review helpful?
I am so sad that the beautiful, magical Wayfarers series has come to an end. Chambers has such a knack for writing warm, lighthearted sci-fi that manages to simultaneously wrestle with oppression, center relationships and love, and point out the absurd in our 'human' customs. Just like the other books in the Wayfarers series, The Galaxy and the Ground Within delivers.

I described this to my sister as being about several travelers who get stranded at a bed and breakfast in a small town after a communications emergency (but, you know, in outerspace and all of the travelers are different species). The story centers on Pei (who is featured briefly in The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet), Speaker (an Akarak communicator who is briefly separated from her twin, Tracker), Roveg (a Quelin exile who has an appointment he is desperate to make) and Ouloo and her child, Topu, who host the Five Hop (the bed and breakfast in question). As per all of Chamber's books, these characters and the relationships they form with one another are really the heart of the story. Although each of the travelers only intends the Five Hop to be a quick stop for them, they come away from the experience changed by one another.

What I've loved so much about the Wayfarers series, is that when Chambers builds these complex worlds, she helps reimagine what our world could look like. As Saidiya Hartman says, "so much of the work of oppression is about policing the imagination," and Chambers dares to imagine so many different ways of being. I have always enjoyed all of the different approaches to gender, sexuality, and family that Chambers embeds in her books. The Galaxy and the Ground Within expands on that. Roveg started his family with a queer platonic relationship, Topu uses xe/xyr pronouns and xyr mother, Ouloo, is planning a gender celebration for whichever gender xe chooses; Aeluon children are raised by a group of fathers; and Akaraks are largely asexual. Chambers also has a knack for reimagining what systems of community care could look like. I was particularly drawn to the description of Akarak rakree, which had many parallels to mutual aid (especially the idea that mutual aid is not always just things!). There is also a discussion between Pei and Speaker that really spotlights the causes of harm, which I loved.

I also felt like this book in particular did an excellent job of challenging ideas of ability/disability (although it is possible that I have just become more sensitive to disability justice in the last year or so). This narrative seemed particularly prominent because of Speaker, the Akarak character. Speaker must constantly wear a mech suit because the atmosphere created for other creatures is not designed for her body. She needs to breathe methane and she doesn't need to eat as much protein, which means that in many ways the world is not designed for her. Speaker also does not have fully functional legs and relies on the ambulatory properties of her suit to help her function. There is an excellent discussion where she talks about how a doctor offered to cure her and she declined because she simply was not interested (a conversation that later has impacts on Pei's reproductive decision making). There is also mention of how the GC (the larger governing body) refused to provide planetary accommodations for the Akaraks because of the potential environmental impact, another discussion that disabled people in the U.S. have to have regularly. There is an excellent line on the subject, when the Akaraks tell the GC "how convenient for you to at last work with a species whose bodies are compatible with your bureaucracy." 

All of this makes The Galaxy and the Ground Within one of those books that I could go on for ages about (and would love to read in a social justice book club or something!), so I'll end here by simply saying I loved it, would recommend.
Was this review helpful?
The Galaxy, and the Ground Within was one of my most anticipated releases of 2021, and Becky Chambers absolutely delivered on her talent for exploring humanity and community (in outer space, no less) via mail drone.

The novel follows three galactic traversers - Rovig, Pei, and Speaker - who find themselves grounded on the waystation planet Gora due to massive technological failure in the stars and space above. Each is grappling with their own stress and worries. As they wait for answers they must learn to navigate relationships with each other that likely would not have happened otherwise. Speaker, Pei, and Rovig are each of a different species of aliens, and each of them differ again from the species of their ground host and her child. However, despite the fact that a Human does not appear on the page in the flesh until the last sixty or so pages, the humanity of each main character is never questioned and is ever present.

I loved this novel for so many reasons, some of which I've already written about (oh the humanity!). There's so much queer rep, I could cry. Asexuality and non-binary identities in seen on page, along with a relationship between two different species. Becky Chambers also has a knack for exploring difficult topics, such as refugee status, xenophobia, and body autonomy, and she does so in a reflective, caring, and honest way. As the story came to an end, I not surprisingly found myself crying at the connections made across difference, and the profound affect a stranger can have on your life. 

The Galaxy, and the Ground Within is a character-driven space opera told from multiple points of view, and is so beautifully written. Highly recommend this and the rest of Becky Chambers' stories! The Wayfarers series may have come to an end, but I anxiously look towards the horizon for anything and everything that Becky Chambers writes next.

Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Voyager for the advance reader's copy in exchange for an honest review!
Was this review helpful?
Another wonderful entry into the Wayfarers Series.  What the author has done so far in this series, taking far flung cultures and species and telling the most humanist or stories has been fantastic.  Continuously in this series, acceptance comes to the forefront and I always close these book with a sense of awe and upliftedness (not the realest of word, but we will keep it).
Was this review helpful?
The last book in the Wayfarers series follows the same in depth exploration of its characters' lives and experiences seen in all of the author's books in this series.  The story is set up well by the author to allow her to showcase the characters personalities, strengths, weaknesses and fears as they are accidentally thrown together by unforeseen events.  The author's steady and calm development of the story, the characters and their lives explores social interactions while basing the entire series in an interlocking story line in the far future populated by multiple species scattered through the galaxy.   This series is not to be missed!
Was this review helpful?
A beautiful novel of five well crafted characters that are marginalized by their societies who are searching for community, and most importantly, home.  This is sci/fi only in that the characters are non-human, but remove their physical descriptions and it could easily be translated into a novel based on Earth.  Five beings from very different cultures coming together in an emergency with nothing to do but wait, decide to be nice and open to learning about each other. 
 
There’s no plot.  Nothing happens.  They don’t come together to defeat something.  They get together and share food and themselves.  They look beyond their differences and strangeness and see the being within.  A story we all need to read in this polarizing time.  By the end I was crying with their kindness and thoughtfulness to each other.  

Stand alone book, but it would be best to read at least the first in the series, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, also a great character and relationship book.

Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I got an ARC of this book.

I am a huge Chambers fan, but I have generally only engaged with the audiobooks. That made this book so difficult for me. I need this as an audiobook to really compare it to the others in the series. I think I would have liked it more if it had been audio.

I really liked this book. It was comforting and wholesome. There were times that I was snorting at humans with these other species (cheese really is weird if you think about it). There were times I was giggling and hoping for an interspecies relationship to form (I really had a strong ship that did not come to be, but did have a nice friendship form which might be even better than what I was hoping for).

It felt a lot like the first book in the series in the tone and the meandering character development. There was a lot less plot in this one than any of the others. Instead it was just these sentient beings interacting and dealing with large things at the same time. It really seemed to focus on the idea that you truly have no idea what someone else is going through. Every single one of the characters had something going on that was important than no one else knew. They were really wonderful and complex characters. They are not perfect and they are aware of that as well.

It really was fluffy and wonderful. I can’t say that enough. It was soothing to be in this queer norm universe. I just want to climb into this world and live there. I want to learn Klip. I want to learn how to cook for the different species. I would love to work at this waystation. I can’t think of a better life than that.

It was wonderful to see some species get more fleshed out than before, made them feel more real. I think I will need to re-listen to all the other books now that I know more about the different species. I am not ready to let this series go. I have cried so much over this series. This time the tears were for just how accepting and wonderful the parents were. The talk about which cakes would be made made my heart hurt, because that is just not my experience explaining my gender to my family. I needed this world. I don’t know what to do with myself now that it is over.
Was this review helpful?
The fourth book in the series is a self-contained story. There are characters from previous books, but the reader doesn’t need to know them to enjoy this story.  Like last book this is more of a slice of life and not a huge story of heroes and villains. This story covers group of various species of travelers stuck at a waystation due to a global satellite failure.  It covers how they interact with one another and their host at the fuel stop.  It also gives the reader more insight to the various aliens that make up this story universe. Reading this felt like a comfortable blanket wrapping around you. There are life decisions made by each character at the end of the book and it is because of the time and talks they had with each other.  There are some spoilers for the previous books but a new reader will not be lost. 

Digital review copy provided by the publisher through Netgalley
Was this review helpful?
can really only give this a neutral rating because I did not realize this book was the fourth and possibly last book in the series. So I was perpetually lost and didn't quite understand what was happening, to the point where I was asking myself why I kept reading. Yet, some how I did. I finished the thing, without really understanding the backstories of most of these characters, and yet I found some parts really enjoyable. I cannot stress this enough: please read the other books. I could follow the plot because it was pretty simple but it seems to rely on the socio-political conflicts that may have built up during the last three books.

There are three new characters here from what I understand, and they are all long haulers like the crew of the Wayferer the ship that most of the series takes place in. All three characters are stuck on a backwater planet after a malfunction in the planetary orbiter keeps them planetside. They all clash as they must adjust to their new settings as they wait for the go a head to leave the planet.

Based on the blurbs from the other books in the series, this fourth book is more contemplative and quiet. It is driven by the three leads and their bemusement at the quirky innkeeper and her child. They all have conflicting interests and conflicts, and each one is basically left to stew in their thoughts for most of the book. I never would have thought it would work. But here I am, finished with it, and wondering how did that work? I don't know but it did. I do wish I had started with the first three, and I will revisit this book once I am finished with those books.

I have a feeling that fans of the series will gobble this one up, and I do hope that new readers will start at the beginning, because there is some good stuff in here that will make a lot more sense if the whole series is read.

*I received this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
Was this review helpful?