Cover Image: The Galaxy, and the Ground Within

The Galaxy, and the Ground Within

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The fourth and, sadly, final book in the Wayfarers series. This book all takes place in what I thought of as a galactic truck stop called The Five-Hop One-Stop. A place to freshen up before going through transports to other parts of the galaxy. This place is run by Ouloo and her child Tupo. 

Stuff happens and everyone gets stuck on the space station. Speaker, a small creature who uses a robot suit to walk around, since she can only breathe methane, Roveg, a Quelin artist and food lover, and, Pei Digby's main Aeuleon squeeze.

What I have really loved about most of the Wayfarers novels is that plot takes a back seat to characterization. (This isn't a criticism. There is room in far flung space novels for stories that take place on a planet with beings talking to one another and learning from and about one another.) And, what awesome characters we have here! There's a lot going on from basic features of each species to interesting quirks for each character. We pick up so much in a small amount of time. This is wonderfully written and by the end of the first Day I can't wait to spend more time with these characters and learn even more about them. 

Having said that, there is a bit in this book where the tension is ratcheted up and it's not 100% clear which way the story is going to go. The tension was palpable through the writing, and it allowed for some characters to interact in brand new unexpected ways. 

I like that the relationship between each character is explored and it is shown how they can (and sometimes can't) learn from each other. 

I'm pretty bummed that this series is ending. I guess it is good that Chambers is ending it on such a high note. (Personally, I've loved each book of the series as different as each of them has been.) But, I feel like there is such potential for more stories. I want to know more about Dr. Miriyam. I want to hear what other adventures the crew of the Wayfarer get up to. I guess I'll have to wait to see what Chambers comes up with in the future and look forward to that, instead.
But, if the series has to end, this is a good send off. One of the things I really liked about all of these books is how positive and happy they are. This book is no exception, and a cherry is placed on top by some activities at the end of the book that I especially enjoyed. 

I was lucky enough to get an early copy of this book from Netgalley. This did not affect my review.
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+Extensive world-building
+Compelling characters you quickly bond with
+Thought-provoking plot
+Great balance of character growth, world building, and plot

This series (and all of Becky Chamber's, to be honest) has become my comfort series. Every time I read these books, it's like being wrapped in a warm hug, even if the stories themselves are sometimes heartbreaking. This final installment has only further proven that, and I can't wait to read these books over and over again. I'm heartbroken I won't get another story in this world, but at the same time, I've loved the other works Chambers has written as well (To Be Taught, If Fortunate and the Psalm for the Wild Built), and can't wait to see what she writes next.

One of my favorite things throughout this series has been the universe that the stories are set in. Chambers has always done a fantastic job of creating worlds and cultures that feel entirely real, while also making them inclusive and realistic. Her world-building has become what I compare other sci-fis too, as to me it's just a perfect example of how to create a deep, fascinating setting for a sci-fi story to take place in. The diversity that exists between the different cultures and how they perceive the world around them (both on a cultural level, such as with gender and relationships, but also on a physical level, like communicating through colors instead of sound) is one of my favorite parts of the universe this series takes place in. I also love that each new book seems to take a different approach and angle to this universe, and we aren't just getting the human perspective of this vast world. We get to see the world through the lens of different species, and it's always really cool to see how that changes a particular story. This book is a perfect example of that, since our point of view characters are all from a different species and therefore have an entirely different way of seeing and interacting with the world.

Chambers also always really shines when it comes to the characters. Every story of hers has, without fail, ensured I was attached to the POV characters (and often side characters), within the first few chapters. The level of care that seems to echo through every layer of their development is visible in every interaction between Chambers' characters, and in their thoughts as they process certain events. You quickly grow to love these characters, to understand them. I loved the cast we got to see in this book, and it hurt finishing the story knowing that I wasn't ever going to see them again. Another important aspect, related to characters, was the relationships between them, and this part was especially interesting in this installment, as the main POV characters all started off as strangers. It meant we both got to see how characters viewed themselves and how they viewed each other, which varied greatly depending on the beliefs of individuals characters and the prejudices they had going into this situation. It led to discussions between these characters that were sometimes confrontational, but even in those arguments, Chambers did a good job of not painting any single character as a 'bad' one. This allowed readers to see the many shades of the same color, and that no specific character was right.

We need more hopeful stories like Chambers' in this world, and I love how full and happy I feel whenever I finish another one of her stories. There's just something so compelling and fulfilling about a story like this, one that isn't necessarily about packing as much action and excitement as possible into 400 pages, but instead focuses more on lived experience, interactions across cultures, and exploring what it means to just be. I couldn't recommend this book, and the Wayfarers series, enough. I'll be (impatiently) waiting to see what Becky Chambers writes next!
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The Galaxy, and the Ground Within is the fourth and final book in the Wayfarer’s series and it was just perfect. It’s so hard to pick a favorite in this series because they are all so uniquely wonderful but this one is definitely near the top of the list. If you haven’t read any Becky Chambers, GET ON IT. You are seriously missing out on some of the best science fiction ever written. This is also one of my favorite book covers maybe ever.
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I haven't read all of them, but it seems like every book in the series operates as a stand alone. Even then, before this installation of the Wayfarers Series, I read The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet to get a sense of Chambers' universe. It had been on my Kindle for quite awhile, and I'm not sure why I never got to it. It was silly to have waited this long, because I loved it!

Yet it didn't prepare me for how much I would LOVE this book. As a reader, I love how well-rounded all her characters are by the end, with small snippets into their past lives scattered throughout the novel. As a writer, I can't comprehend how she comes up with these societies so incredibly different from each other and from the ones on our planet. Since this is a written work, as opposed to a televised one like Star Trek, we are instantly privy to the character's interior thoughts, instead of hearing them through the words characters say.

Most of the reading I've been doing recently boils down to a main character who is different from those surrounding them, which usually also includes some special power that saves or changes the world. I don't want to knock that kind of story, but I really needed one like this. There is not one main character with special abilities, but instead a diverse cast who together have the special powers (just like Speaker suggested, btw). The Wayfarer's universe reminds me of Star Wars, in the sense of a bunch of weirdos thrust together who have to work together for a common goal.

The novel is set on a barren planet only habited as it became useful as a space port stopover. This setting means that all the characters are outsiders, and there isn't a dominant species. Additionally, there's only one human in the story, and she's a minor character, usually only referred to as The Human. Thus the reader is in the same boat as all the other characters meeting and interacting with new species, and overcoming biases. There are several times in the book where one character tries to explain a concept from their culture to another, who don't have the words (or colors) for it. This detail really stood out to me.

OK, now to gush. Spoilers ahead. (view spoiler)

After I finished this book, I just lay on my couch for awhile letting all the warm feelings it gave me swirl around. I still haven't started another since, because I'm not quite ready. I think the only solution is to go back and read A Closed and Common Orbit and Record of a Spaceborn Few!

ARC provided Tor through NetGalley <3
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No doubt this is my favorite book in the Wayfarer's series penned by Becky Chambers. While all of the three previous entries were terrific, this one had me talking about it with friends even before I finished.

Chambers excels at character-driven plotlines. The Galaxy and the Ground Within is no exception. The plot device of having very different species thrown together for an extended time is not a new one. What Chambers does with this is.

Set on a barren planet, which is only populated because of its proximity to four wormholes, means that there's really nothing special about the place overall. The majority of the story takes place at the dome of one of the planet's residents, whose purpose is established early: she desires the comfort of her short-term guests.

The other characters are a selection of alien species from Chambers other novels. While she has always made us part of her character's thinking and perspective, we are treated to the curiosity and awkwardness of other species interacting with each other as well.

There are no blazing gun fights, no huge space battles, and no violence of any type. This is a few days of people being people, with their own motivations, concerns and worries, dealing with the same situation together.

Interestingly, only one human inhabits this story and almost at the end. We aren't spoiled with our own species fallabilities and foibles -- humans are just some other race in this galactic community.

I've read many books in which I've come to learn and care about the characters -- alien and otherwise. This book is special, however. It is clear that Chambers not only wants us to know these characters but to come to care about them as well. 

A fantastic conclusion to an excellent quartet of books! I highly recommend it for its treatment of "other" in a unique and empathetic way.
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Becky’s books always inspire a fascinating sense of thoughtfulness and displacement and familiarity at once, and this one does not disappoint. Somehow, in the context of a pandemic and social distancing and civil unrest and cabin fever, reading about being forced to reflect on what you actually want (while sheltering in place during an unprecedented disaster on a little rest stop of a planet) is an incredible flavor I can recognize on my tongue and have no idea how to describe.

Reader, I cried. And that, from me, is the mark of a good book.
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Becky Chambers writes in the afterword that this is the end of the Wayfarers series. Since the other novels didn’t follow the same characters but shone the spotlight on those who had been in the background, I was hoping that it would last forever. This universe is so rich and immersive that I would have kept reading for eternity. After focusing on humans in the last volume, this story is about other alien species thrown together by a freak accident. Nothing big really happens, it’s an intimate look into the characters, their history and quirks as they slowly bond. It is surprising how much I cared about them all, worried about them and wanted to learn more. Their voices are so distinctive that I started thinking “that is so Roveg” like he was my buddy. Considering said Roveg is a giant bug, it’s a big accomplishment. But the author’s imagination is not limited to what’s possible on Earth. I’ve read non-fiction books by astrobiologists and they complain how aliens in pop culture seem to have “human” traits as in eyes and legs. Chambers’ characters are truly alien. Everything, from their reproductive systems, their diets and politics is very well thought out. The author has a real gift and I’m looking forward to what comes next. 
I chose to read this book and all opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased. Thank you, NetGalley/ HarperCollins Publishers!
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The Galaxy and the Ground Within takes what I've loved about the series and expands it further. Chambers delivers a book full of heart. Multiple POV, The Galaxy and the Ground Within is emotional from start to finish. Throughout we not only see their stories unravel, their vulnerabilities, anf fears are revealed to us. We are able to both relate to their feelings of love, difficult decisions, and rage while also seeing their differences. They all need to learn to speak to each other, to fill these gaps between them - holes of knowledge and misunderstanding.

One of my obsessions are non-humanoid aliens and Chambers always delivers! The Galaxy and the Ground Within feels almost like a slice of life. Yes there's a temporary grounding, but it's not a war zone and their movements and conversations, feel very much like the dance of getting to know each other. To participate in cultural sharing and discussion - despite differences of opinions and histories of injustices. The Galaxy and the Ground Within feels joyful and expansive. Rich and warm, bringing both a universality to the experience, while also acknowledging the differences and injustice.
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Becky Chambers has a gift that I really can't describe - while I didn't find this installment to be quite as good as some of the previous ones, it still has all the love and enthusiasm and weirdness that the other 3 books showed in spades!

This is the sweet story of a mother and child who run a sort of welcome house/inn/rest stop for travelers in a weird order of space, and what happens when they and three travelers are stranded for 5 days due to a massive equipment failure/delay. All the characters are outsiders in their own cultures for one reason or another, and they find kinship and help as they navigate turning points in their lives.

I liked this book a lot, even if I didn't love it. It was fun to get to know Pei from her own perspective, and I really enjoyed Tupo and Roveg in particular. I liked the inter-species interactions, which we have seen some of before. I will say that I especially loved the way that the setting was set up - I could totally picture the mish-mash of a place that was set up to please everyone and ended up feeling unsettling for anyone.

One of the things I have loved about this series is the way that characters appear in other books, but the focus shifts constantly, and you get so many sides to the world. However, that is sometimes frustrating because when you find a character you really LOVE, you don't get to see that journey through to a satisfying end. Some of these characters were exquisite and compelling and some were less so, which meant I loved parts of this book (the natural history museum was hilarious and so entertaining), but found others less interesting.

However, I will read anything Becky Chambers writes, and I still really enjoyed this tale - I highly recommend these books for anyone who likes feel good science fiction, and enjoys world building and funny characters.
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Perhaps some won't like 'The Galaxy, and the Ground Within' on the basis of "not enough happens"-- I've certainly seen similar criticism of the other GC books. I loved it for this, though. 

Good sci fi always has something to say (I mean, any good book has something to say, but mediocre sci fi and fantasy seem to think being cool is good enough). Building a future society out of whole cloth, extrapolated from the current state of things, gives you a lot of room to comment on stuff-- but most of the time, doing so means traversing the stars to see the different aspects of a galactic civilization. 

Becky Chambers' magic trick is somehow bringing a whole universe into view while standing almost completely still. The plot of this one is almost entirely contained in a literal bubble, and all of the things the characters care about are somewhere between 'in orbit, inaccessible' and 'lightyears away'-- but somehow, they carry whole swaths of the universe into the bubble with them. Different ways of life, political tensions, a war, and more all come to the surface as three aliens just, like, do their best to hang out with their gracious hosts. And then, finally, at the end of the book, the connections they made deflect some of their paths, just a little bit maybe, but enough it feels (to me at least) like a plot.

To me, this says (as have Chambers' other books), "the small things you do matter. Life is all of the moments, not just the dramatic ones." And so yes, we get exploration of space politics and inter-species tensions, but we also just get moments in the lives of some really vivid people with problems more relatable than you might expect, at first, considering the sloth/orangutan-ish host might be the most human-like of the characters. 

Looking forward to whatever Chambers has coming next, even if it won't have Aeluons.
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Science fiction, at its best, makes us think about our own lives and experiences, and the way we move through the world. In The Galaxy, and the Ground Within, Becky Chambers manages to have a universe that is full of truly alien aliens, while still leaning heavily into this sci-fi tradition — their problems, be they personal, political, even medical, feel so relevant to ours. Adoption and colonialism. Disability and gender, music, and love. Xenophobia, and feeling adrift in a universe that doesn't seem to have room for you. Seeing yourself reflected in someone who is different from you in every way, yet seems to understand you better than the people you grew up with.

Chambers touches on these big topics without ever being preachy, and without making her characters simply into mouthpieces for her own political beliefs. Each character is fully fleshed out, with cultural heritages that feel so fully realized that one might be forgiven for forgetting these alien cultures are entirely made up. The stakes of this book are in some ways very small -- the cast is made up of a handful of people, and the whole book takes place in one place in just a few days. But in a bigger sense, this book is truly universal, looking thoughtfully at important, nuanced topics without ever pretending to have a perfect answer. This book is a surefire hit with any fans of the Wayfarers series, and science fiction lovers more generally.

Thanks to NetGalley and Harper Voyager for the advance review copy!
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Becky Chambers has done it again. The fourth in her Wayfarers series, The Galaxy, and the Ground Within, is another masterpiece. This lovely book tells the story of an unlikely assortment of folks who become stranded at what is essentially an intergalactic truck stop. With little contact with the outside world and no real timeline as to when they will be able to leave, the five of them have to get by as best they can among strangers, each one more alien than the next.

The Galaxy, and the Ground Within is a tiny book. It’s scale is minuscule — there are five characters, one small space, the span of a few days. But it is also a story of epic proportions, a story that in a relatively few number of pages manages to capture so much. Chambers touches on big themes, from colonialism to ableism, parenting and genocide, and what it means to be truly at home. This is a must read for fans of the Chambers' other work, and for science fiction lovers in general.

Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Voyager for the ARC!
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Becky Chambers has done it again! I'm so, so happy that I got approved for this ARC. This new (and sadly, last) installment of the Wayfarers series hearkens back to the first book in the series A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, which was unquestionably the best one. Becky Chambers is the master of character-driven stories. You want to know how to write character-driven stories? Read Becky Chambers. I'm not sure that I could even come close to picking a favorite character.  

I. Love. This. World. The worldbuilding is excellent, imo. I want to live in this universe. 

 Thank you to Becky Chambers, the publisher, and Netgalley for a copy of this ARC. I'm simply thrilled to read it!
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I'm not sure I can review this book without actual yelling, like standing on a rooftop and throwing this series at everyone. In the acknowledgments, Chambers addresses how this series changed her life, and she should know (I hope she does) how many lives she's touched. Gushing aside, I have nothing but praise for the fourth and final installment of the Wayfarers series. This review is going to be boring. I'm not sorry.

So yeah, I loved everything about this book, especially since it employed one of my all-time favorite tropes as its main narrative device: a group of strangers trapped in one location for an indeterminate length of time who must learn to get along and survive, all whilst getting to know each other. Cue juicy character interactions and misunderstandings and fun and drama. Chambers yet again manages to tells the most intimately human of stories without a single human in sight. A quiet, brutally hopepunk science fiction tour de force.

Ugh. Someone take this review away from me.

Endless thank yous to the publisher and net galley for granting me access to this title early. I will be shouting ALL CAPS about it in my socials, and often.
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Another great addition to Becky Chambers' galaxy. The usual (but NEVER boring or predictable) thoughtfulness and creativity I expect from the author.
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What's it about? 
Gora is a simple, plain little planet. No air, no native life, just some rocks.  But! Location, location, location.  Gora is conveniently positioned between main wormhole thoroughfares for ships traveling through space (and time). What better business for Gora than a space age truck stop? The Five-Hop is run by its owner Ouloo and her teenage offspring, Tupo, who work very hard at providing each species that stops in with a grade A experience. Due to a technology malfunction, this is the story of three travelers who get stuck planet side with their hosts while repairs are being made. Pei has returned and is on her way to meet Ashby for a rendezvous and dealing with her, well, she'd say her "bullshit".  Speaker is new to the "Wayfarers" species whose kin is rare and wide spread who is just trying to get back to her twin sister high above them in their ship.  And Roveg, the classiest hard shelled, many legged exiled creature you will ever meet who is on his way to his home planet for the first time in many years

When I first read the synopsis of this book, I was wondering how Becky Chambers was going to make me love a story set in a intergalactic truck stop.  And then I remember that this was Becky Chambers, queen of character development, inclusivity, and quirky found families.  "The Long Way to A Small Angry Planet" and it's other two companion novels in the "Wayfarers" series have been among my favorite books of all time, and "The Galaxy, and the Ground Within" is no exception. This is a book for sci-fi, history, art, geology, and sociology nerds everywhere. 
These books, no matter how info heavy, never feel overwhelming.  All the information about the planets, locations, characters, ships comes to the reader in such an organic way that you don't even realize that you are learning until you're knee deep in the story and can recognize what species you're interacting with based on on how many legs you've been told they have.  Honestly, this book could have had 300 different species and you would confidently know what each of them look like and sound like.  Becky Chambers is a master of giving each character their own voice and their own space to grow.  And while you might be brought into a story already in progress, you never feel lost.  

This book is set entirely planet side which is something new for the series. You learn a lot about the geology and the creation of the planet in that very fun very Becky Chambers narrative way.  Since there is no "human" main character in this book, I was concerned that I would have a hard time relating to anyone, but that proved to not be the case.  Instead of relating to the most human or humanoid character as I had in the previous books, I found myself relating to all of these "alien" characters in some small way. I am sure that was the intention while this book was being written, but I can say with confidence that it succeeded.  

Speaking of the characters, this book had the most incredibly diverse cast I think I have ever read.  And not just because they are all "aliens". Using xyr pronouns for a developing child in this book was a very clever and inclusive way to bring up the topic of gender.  Becky Chambers has never shied away from diversity in her characters sexually or otherwise.  But, bringing up the topic of gender in such a seamless way was honestly beautiful to read.  

Found family plot lines is truly where these books cannot be matched. While being about found family and characters, this was also a great look at immigration and loving thy neighbor no matter how different from you they might be.

If you are looking for a plot heavy action packed space odyssey, you're in the wrong place.  However, if you are looking for characters you can relate to no matter how alien they are to you, friendship, diversity, and acceptance you're in luck.

This book did have it's slow moments, but they still felt necessary and important to the story.  There is not one single line of this book that you want to skim for fear of missing out on a small nugget of the story.  

I am saddened by the end of the "Wayfarers" series as I still have a few unanswered questions about some of my favorite characters (looking at you Jenks!) but I am excited to see what else Becky Chambers has up her sleeve.
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The author’s note at the end says the end of the series and I am so bummed!  This series is a gentle slice of life set of stories (even when things are going badly).  The author really excels in making this different settings and characters come to life and feel real.   I hate to finish one of these books and have to leave the world behind and they are so well written and quick to read the time I spend there is never long enough.  The four books all stand alone pretty well but I strongly recommend reading them all!
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Becky Chambers is balm for the soul.


This is the final Wayfarers book, and if you’ve read any of the previous ones, you have a good idea of what to expect here. If you haven’t, what you’re going to get isn’t a book with a ton of plot. This book is *all* about characters.


This time around, we have a few people at a highway rest stop when a major accident means the roads are closed and they’re stuck there for a few days. Just all space-y, because this is a sci fi story. They all have reasons to be anxious to be gone. They’ve all got schedules to keep, appointments to make, people they care about they are eager to see again. And they’re stuck waiting around, with no one for company but each other and the woman (along with her teenage son) who runs the place.


As A Closed and Common Orbit and A Record of a Spaceborn Few, we get a connection back to the crew of the Wayfarer in the first book without actually seeing any of them. In this case, one of the people stuck waiting is Ashby’s Aeluon girlfriend.


Interestingly, none of the people waiting are human. We get one human making a brief appearance, but otherwise this book is all aliens.


Pei is returning from the front lines of the war against the titular small, angry planet from the first book. She’s on her way to meet Ashby, and emotionally exhausted from the sneaking about required by her species’ taboo against interspecies relationships.


Roveg is a Quellin (Rosemary described them as lobster-centaurs), but has been exiled from his homeworld for not sharing their xenophobia. He’s returning to Quellin space to apply for a visitor’s permit, and is understandably eager and reluctant both to get on with his journey.


Speaker is an Akarak, a race forced to live a nomadic life and generally looked down on as thieves and pirates by the more respectable citizens of the Galactic Commons. Because of this distrust, Speaker isn’t comfortable interacting with anyone but her twin sister, and Speaker being stuck on the surface with no communications while her sister is in orbit (with the big accident and all) has her more than a little upset.


Ouloo who runs the rest stop wants everyone to feel comfortable and welcomed, and she is very determined in this regard.


Her son Tupo is a teenager who mostly wants to eat and ask endless questions.


They talk. They get to know one another. They share stresses and hopes and stories. There’s some drama that has me worried. And then the roads are cleared, they all move on (with heartfelt promises to stop at Ouloo’s again whenever they’re passing by) a bit wiser.


It is, as I said, balm for the soul. It comes out on April 20th.
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The fourth book in the Wayfarer series is sure to please fans of the other books. In contrast to the first three, this book does have a kind of central problem, so there is a bit more pulling readers through it. Also, in one notable instance, some sapients don’t respond correectly to each other, and everyone isn’t perfectly understanding—though of course, things are resolved in a model way. Those who have been put off by the model understanding displayed by all the characters will continue to feel frustrated, and there continues to be a large amount of exposition in the novel.
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<i>I received a free digital ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.</i>

I love space opera. The wide expanse of space, the galaxy-spanning civilizations, the small-level conflicts and the thrill of discovering the unknown. Space is infinite and unexplored and ripe for stories within that huge expanse of... stuff. 

Becky Chambers' Wayfarers Quartet has all the hallmarks of great space opera. Many of the tropes are there -- in Chambers' Galactic Commons universe, humanity is a small (and relatively new) part of a coalition of spacefaring races. There are friendly aliens and unfriendly ones. There is war and peace and love. There is a huge expanse of stars, many of them with planets populated by all kinds of sentient beings, and the faster-than-light means by which to travel between them. 

But whereas traditional space opera trains a macro lens over big ideas -- galactic conspiracies, multi-system wars, etc. -- Becky Chambers zooms in her lens to the micro level. Her stories are less about huge conspiracies and more about the small relationships between individuals. Chambers' books are noteworthy less for the things that happen than the relationships between the characters. There is drama and conflict, of course, but there is talking, and understanding, and a willingness to believe in the best about creatures very different than you. 

It is, in many ways, the opposite of space opera. There's no grimdark here -- this is kind, gentle, heartwarming galactic novels, and that's why I love these books so much.

Chambers' latest, and last, novel in the Galactic Commons universe, "The Galaxy and the Ground Within" turns her micro focus to the backwater planet of Gora. Basically the planetary equivalent of a truck stop, it's barren and empty, a planet free of any redeeming qualities except that it happens to be situated at a major intersection of hyperspace tunnels. Because of that, enterprising aliens of all kinds have set up domes that cater to weary travelers who may need supplies, or trade, or a meal, or a good night's sleep away from their ships. 

The Five-Hop One Stop is one of those places, a come-as-you-are haven for those passing through who might need something, even if they don't know what it is. Run by Laru proprietor Ouloo and her gender-neutral child Tupo, the Five-Hop becomes the refuge for four additional characters, all of vastly different races, when an accident strands them on Gora and shuts down all travel out of the system. 

This setting -- Breakfast Club meets the Mos Eisley cantina -- throws together vastly different characters, all with their own motivations, backgrounds, languages, appearances, and preconceived ideas about the other races stuck with them on that godforsaken rock. "Galaxy and the Ground Within" very quickly turns into a character drama as the various aliens, each of whom (barring Tupo) get their own POV chapters, navigate their surroundings and learn to know each other and understand one another over the course of the novel.

Most striking about this book is that none of the characters are human. All are aliens of some kind, unique and weird and interesting in their own way. Ouloo and Tupo are Laru, long-limbed and furry. Speaker is an Akarak, a solitary and misunderstood species within the GC. Roveg is a Quelin, multi-limbed and with an exoskeleton probably closer to a earth crustacean than anything mammalian. Only Pei is a familiar character, the Aeluon lover of human Ashby from the first book in the series. 

There's conflict, because of course there is. There are heartfelt conversations, because it's a Becky Chambers book. There's a crisis that eventually brings everyone together for a common good. There is not, however, always consensus, because life doesn't always work that way.

As a series, these books don't have an overarching narrative. They are connected more by setting and to a lesser degree characters who may have interacted with other characters from the other books. In that sense. these are books that can be read in any order, as their connections are more thematic. Some may view "The Galaxy and the Ground Within" as an anticlimactic ending to the series. 

But I get the sense that for Chambers, it was never about grand narratives -- it was about small stories in the settings of a vast galaxy. The four books of the Wayfarers Quartet tell four different small stories, connected in some ways, vastly different in other ways. "The Galaxy and the Ground Within" brings the stories of these alien main characters stranded on Gora to a satisfactory close, but leaves you knowing that these are mere snapshots of the lives of these characters. You end up caring deeply about all of them, even as they struggle to connect.

These aren't the only stories in this universe, and perhaps Chambers will return to the compelling GC universe again some day. If not, this book is one I will definitely return to when I need a dose of introspective, thoughtful and kind space opera.
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