Cover Image: The Galaxy, and the Ground Within

The Galaxy, and the Ground Within

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Member Reviews

I received an advance copy of this book via NetGalley.

The Wayfarer series is back! Once again we have a story separate from the others, loosely connected via side characters from other stories. This is a spoiler-free review, so I'm going to do my best to avoid story beats. Basically what we have is a group of people coming together, being confronted with an extraordinary circumstance, and working through issues. Not unlike other books in the series.

This time out, none of the main characters are human. Some are aliens we've met or heard about before, others are brand new (I think).  Aside from a couple of them who are related, they are all strangers to one another., thrust into a situation where they have to spend a whole lot more time together than anticipated.

It's interesting because the big extraordinary circumstance that's going on is kind of in the background. It's keeping them where they are, but there's nothing they can do about it. They just have to wait until the authorities get things back into order.

So, we are treated to another helping of the real soul of these books: Everybody has their own issues, and why not talk about them, and be kind, and help each other through these issues. Once again we have a sci-fi book with no big space battles, no saving the galaxy from ancient evil, etc, etc, and once again it's a refreshing break from those kinds of stories. 

There's something about these books that just makes me feel good to be a human and feel good about other humans. They give me hope, which is in short supply these days. I really get into a mindset of hey, we're all doing our own thing, it's okay to have feelings about things, and why not just choose kindness and helpfulness.

This is reportedly the last of the Wayfarers series, but I'm sure Becky Chambers has other great works in store for us in the future.
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WAHHHHHHHH :'))))

idk how she does it.

these books show the human experiences with having almost no human characters. how!!!! I don't even know how to articulate it. My brain feels like mush right now lol

I'm just astonished at how simple these books are while tackling complex and nuanced topics regarding politics, social issues, gender, etc while all taking place in space with alien characters!

Truly a series everyone needs to read. Each books holds a special place in my heart and I can't wait to reread them all again.

*sigh* so good.
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I have loved every one of Becky Chamber's books so far (I've read them all). She is an auto-buy author for me. Although I am sad that this is the final book in The Wayfarers Series, I think this book was a fitting ending. As is usual with a Becky Chamber's book, this was slow-paced and character focused. I loved exploring the cultural backgrounds and histories of the non-human species of The Galactic Commons. It was interesting explore themes of privilege and biases through the lens of science fiction. My heart was warmed by these unforgettable charters. This is a book I will reread and recommend to others.
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I really liked this series and I am so glad that I was able to read this one. I found myself intrigued by the layers of civilizations and "aliens" that make up the GC. I was glad that there were no humans as central characters, it made for a more imaginative experience.
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According to a note from the author in my ARC of The Galaxy, And The Ground Within, this book marks the fourth and final installment of Becky Chamber’s The Wayfarers. I have been a huge fan of the series ever since I picked up the first book (A Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet), and I count the third book (Record Of A Spaceborn Few) among my favorite books of all time – so this announcement left me a bit depressed. And yet, one of the beautiful things about Becky Chambers’ writing is her ability to infuse emotion into almost any person, place, or thing. Although I am sad this series is finally coming to a close after four books, I am also extremely excited to see what Chambers has in store for us next. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, because we still haven’t answered the questions at hand: Is The Galaxy, And The Ground Within a proper send-off to the Wayfarers? Yes, it is. Is it the culmination of the series and the best book of the four? No, it is not.

Let’s get this out of the way early, Galaxy is not better than Record, and that is absolutely fine. To me, Record will always be the ultimate expression of what this series is good at – taking small slices of life in a science fiction setting, layering them with profound insights into the human spirit, and weaving the slices together to create a beautiful cake that is so sweet and delicious it makes you cry repeatedly. However, Galaxy still has a lot going on for such a small package, and in true Wayfarer fashion, it is packed full of love and insight.

The Galaxy, And The Ground Within tells the story of characters who all get stuck at a galactic rest stop together. They were only meant to be there for a few hours at most when a catastrophic accident grounded all flights for a few days. Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal, but each of the three main travelers are in an extreme rush for secret reasons that are slowly parceled out over the course of the story. Our travelers – Pei, Roveg, and Speaker – are accompanied by Ouloo and Tupo, a mother and child who run the rest stop. These five individuals more or less comprise our entire cast, and their story is a quick, quiet tale of coping with inaction when they want nothing more than to act. Although there are only five real characters in this story, it is very much a quality over quantity situation. All five of them are unsurprisingly wonderful and diverse. The book gives you a window into their pasts, the internal dilemmas that they are currently coping with, and how these factors shape their decisions as the book progresses. 

There are a number of interesting themes throughout the story, but my personal favorite was Chamber’s dissection of perspective and circumstance. A large part of the book is devoted to the concept that you cannot impose blanket ideas/laws/judgements on people when their lives might be so different that they don’t apply. This theme is best personified in Speaker, who is a small, marsupial-like humanoid that has a lifespan of fewer than ten years. Galaxy brilliantly shows how its universe is extremely hostile and apathetic to a species that does not live their lives on the same literal timeline. It shows how the world can be so uncaring about people who have different needs, and how we need to do more than stand out of their way; it shows how we need to help them. It’s a very powerful message that is easy to connect to our own lives, and Galaxy did a wonderful job getting me to reflect on if I am doing enough for the people in my life who might need an extra hand.

Although it will hit you with a few heavy blows to the heart, Galaxy is a book best described as low key. The book is nicely paced, like a wonderful lazy river after a hot day in the sun. The characters are impossible to dislike. And the story is a perfect mix of breezy, warm, and thoughtful. I cannot think of a better book to end my journey through Wayfarers with, and I can’t wait for all of you to get your hands on it as well.

Rating: The Galaxy, And The Ground Within – 9.0/10
-Andrew
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I hate that this is the end of the series, but if it has to be this an excellent closer. All of the series is wonderful, but this one is soooooo good, right up there with the first one with how much I loved it. It's the only book to not have a human as a POV character, but worked so well because Chambers does characters so magnificently. We get to see Pei again (Ashby's lover, for lack of a better word), and I came to really like her, and her character arc with her decision at the end was astounding. 

I'll run of superlative to describe this book and series. As a friend called it, it's sci-fi comfort food, and I'm going to miss more wonderful books in this world. There really wasn't a bad spot anywhere in the book, not in terms of character, world building, or pacing. 

A lovely end to a wonderful series.
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The planet Gora would be a barren rock if it were not for its perfect placement between bigger destinations; most space travelers need to stop on Gora for anywhere from a few hours to a few days and so an entire commerce-based community sprung up around the dusty landscape with everything to meet your needs from grand hotels and restaurants to cheap sim venders and fuel stations. Readers zoom in on a quaint and friendly dome called the Five-Hop One-Stop. An average day begins as customers dock for a short break but a planet-wide tech failure results in a delay that means they're stuck together for a lot longer than any of them planned. 

As with Chambers' past books, this title focuses on character building as these visitors and their caretakers confront the unexpected and discover more about each other and themselves. Each chapter jumps to the point of view of one of the four main characters, all of whom are different species with unique inner monologues, beliefs, and experiences, that shape their actions and give readers a deeper insight into each Five-Hop occupant. In addition to constructing entire worlds, governments, and sentient beings, Chambers addresses prejudices that exist on our very own planet in a multitude of ways from the complexities of war to gender as a social construct. At the heart of the book is a theme of interconnectedness; how one person can impact another's life in ways that reach far beyond a single interaction.  While conflict and drama certainly have their place in the story, this is a story of comfort.

Overall, The Galaxy, and the Ground Within is another marvel of a novel that shouldn't be missed by any fan of this author. Though this is the fourth in a series, the Wayfarers books can be read in any order as they concentrate so directly upon the characters and their development, allowing readers to jump in anywhere and glean what they need to know about the world through natural conversations and narrative.  Chambers is a master of weaving together the familiar and the extraordinary in a way the leaves readers feeling a bit more worldly and open to change.
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(I was provided an e-ARC of this book via NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

This book is perfectly lovely, and fans will be happy for another visit to the Wayfarers universe. The whole book is those subtle and lovely personal interactions that Chambers does so well. What you should know going into it is that there are no big showdowns and little action. It is, nevertheless, a page turner that explores human themes through a cast of non-human characters.
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Thank you NetGalley and the publishers for an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review!

I love this series so friggin much and I can't believe I was given the opportunity to read it before it's published. 

This is my second favorite book in the series (after the first), and the only thing I didn't like about it is that it's the end of the series. I didn't realize that until I was done and read the acknowledgements at the end, and I literally gasped in dismay. Knowing that it is the end of the series did make the end feel a bit anticlimactic. I love the series so much that I wanted something grander for the end of it, but the more I think about it the more I think an "anticlimactic" ending is exactly how it should end.

If you're not interested in character-driven books, this is not the book for you. Nothing really happens; there is no real plot. There is only a lovely and insightful story about five strangers stuck together for five days until they each move on with their own lives.  It's gloriously queer and feminist, and there's a scene between two characters about bodily autonomy that I didn't know I desperately wanted to see portrayed in a book like this. 

This is a series that I'm sad I'll never have the opportunity to read for the first time again, and I honestly can't think of another book that I feel that way about.
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A new Becky Chamber's  book is always a treat!  I've been a fan of hers since first reading "The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet", the first book in the Wayfarers series.  It's not necessary to read the previous books in the series in order to enjoy this latest one.  The first book does have more about Pei and Ashby, their relationship, and their dilemma.  And this new book, the fourth, ties up that story line very well. 

"The Galaxy, and the Ground Within" is a story about four different alien beings, three of which are spacers, temporarily stranded at a fuel station  (Five-Hop, One-Stop) run by the fourth alien and her child.  The story starts out a bit slowly as they all cautiously interact with each other.  They come from different planets, with different cultures, different histories, and different biases.  During the time they spend together, there are events that unite them despite their differences.  And with that comes friendship and respect, even between two enemies.

It's not difficult to draw parallels between this story and the world we live in.  This is a story about optimism, about what could be if we could see the worth in each other, despite our cultures, biases, and histories.

I highly recommend this book.
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I cannot tell you how much I loved this book. I have never used the following word before, but I believe it is appropriate here: squee!


I first learned of Becky Chambers when someone from my science fiction book club picked The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet for their selection. It bowled me over with how much I loved it. That book was everything I want from Cozy science fiction. I love the characters, setting, just everything about it. I eagerly anticipated and immediately devoured the next two Wayfarers books when they came out and I was thrilled when she won the Hugo for best series. So I was both delighted and dismayed when I saw that this book was announced as the last book she planned for this universe.

This book was like a warm hug. This book was like being wrapped in a heated blanket on a cold winter day with a mug of hot cocoa with just the right amount of marshmallows in it. 

The plot of this book is not the point of this book. If I were to describe the plot, I would say that a bunch of different aliens end up stuck at a space  truckstop and end up getting to know each other. As they get to know each other, we get to know them, their worlds, their cultures. And it is a pure joy. I cannot thank NetGalley and the publisher enough for an advanced reader copy of this book. It was my most anticipated release for 2021 and I am so thrilled that I got to read it early. 

If you’ve never read a book in the series before, you could easily start here if you wanted to. The author doesn’t repeat some of the world building nuggets that you learned in earlier books, but they’re not necessary to enjoy this novel. For fans of the first three, you will be happy to see a minor character from the first book get a larger role here. I don’t want to spoil who it is because of the pleasure I had in realizing it myself.

This book was practically perfect in every way and everyone should get themselves a copy as soon as it’s available. Again, I say: Squee!
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4 / 5 ✪

https://arefugefromlife.wordpress.com/2021/04/18/the-galaxy-and-the-ground-within-by-becky-chambers/

The Galaxy and the Ground Within is the fourth and final book in the Wayfarers series, a collection of semi-related novels all taking place in the same universe. One of my favorite all-time series, the Wayfarers teaches hope, love and acceptance, while still managing to relate to everyday life, despite the fact that it’s set hundreds of years in the future.

I fully expect that Becky Chambers was sitting around during the pandemic, relaxing and pondering new projects, when some of her friends called her up or messaged her with “the world NEEDS more Wayfarers”. Enter the Galaxy and the Ground Within [hereby known as simply The Ground Within].

Gora once lived an nondescript existence. The only planet orbiting an unremarkable star, it held no air, no water, no native life or valuable minerals. If not for a series of wormholes, it might not have gotten any attention whatsoever.

As a popular stopover on the intergalactic highway, Gora is a pseudo-truck stop. Here, at the Five-Hop One-Stop, long haul traders, travelers, and spacers alike can stretch their appendages, shake out their hair, and let their lamella breathe.

When a freak tech failure leads to Gora being locked down, interstellar traffic grinds to a halt, at least for the travelers stuck in the system. And specifically for five such spacers at the Five-Hop. Now these strangers (three travelers and the two hosts) must band together to survive—or at least to stave off boredom—or they will fall divided.

The Ground Within is a particularly remarkable book, as it predominantly features no humans, at least among the main cast. As such, I occasionally felt myself (my imagination, at least) come ungrounded as my mind boggled to accurately picture all the non-conforming life. Not that we’re left completely in the dark. Among the main cast are a few species that you’re likely familiar with, should you have read any of the other three books—not to mention one character in particular that has appeared in a previous book, albeit briefly.

The Ground Within is also remarkable as it doesn’t so much feature an overarching plot, per say. I mean, there IS a plot, obviously, it’s just not the typical space opera kind. Instead it’s written in more of the Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet approach of “here’s a subset of characters, here’re their problems, let’s put them in a room and hash everything out”. Which it does, to varying degrees of success.

The main issue is that with no overarching force driving the story, it’s prone to wander aimlessly. Which it does—or feels like it does—for a decent chunk of the book. I often found myself asking “where is this going?” only for the plot to resolve itself in an odd, often roundabout way, or by ditching one path and abruptly taking another, only to return later on. It’s… Becky Chambers is good at this approach. Not to say that it’s when she’s at her best, but she can make it work. And does. There are bumps along the road, however. Once or twice I even considered giving it up, as nothing was happening and I couldn’t see where we were heading. But in the end I stuck it out and was glad I did.

I teared up. Again. Four books and the author has caused me to tear up in each one. I guess that’s as good a measure of success as any other. Although occasionally aimless and often wandering, The Ground Within delivers again. I know Chambers has said time and again that this is the last Wayfarers entry. But if there is one more in the future—maybe we’ll have another lockdown or something—I would like to see it be more guided.

TL;DR

The Galaxy and the Ground Within is the Wayfarers finale you didn’t know you needed. I mean, you KNEW you NEEDED one, you just didn’t know this was it. Possessed of an odd, often leisurely pace, the story seems to wander aimlessly throughout, in no hurry to reach any destination, and even with no concrete destination in mind. This is a particularly remarkable novel, for the reason that there are no humans amongst the main cast. But despite this, Becky Chambers manages to tell a full, amazing story that does not disappoint in the end. While not up to the level of #2 or 3, I cannot recommend The Galaxy and the Ground Within enough as an emotional, thought-provoking read, combining messages of hope and acceptance. It provides a fitting resolution to the Wayfarers series, and one that I hope you’ll enjoy as much as I did!
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Something I really enjoyed about The Galaxy, and the Ground Within is that, unlike the previous books in this series, which were very centered around the Human experience in Chambers’ world of the Galactic Commons, none of the point-of-view characters were Human. We have Ouloo, the Laru owner of the Five-Hop One-Stop and single mother of Tupo; Speaker, an Akarak traveling with her sister, Tracker; Roveg, an exiled Quelin artist; and Pei, an Aeluon captain we originally met in The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet.

As a result of finally focusing on more than just the Human perspective, Chambers really shows off her worldbuilding skills in this book. Almost the entire book takes place in one location, and yet I learned so much about different species, different worlds, different cultures, some of the political issues within the Galactic Commons, and more. I spend so much time in my reviews praising Chambers for her characters, and I truly do love her characters, but I wanted to add some praise for her worldbuilding up front because it’s honestly just as good as her character development and deserves the attention.

Now back to the characters. A Close and Common Orbit was my favorite book in the series so far in part because of how much I related to one of the main characters, Sidra. I’ve always enjoyed Chambers’ characters, but there’s something special and validating about a character who’s going through something you’ve been through. I was able to get that experience again in The Galaxy, and the Ground Within with Pei.

Pei is in a relationship with Ashby, the Human captain from The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, which they have to keep a secret because Aeluons have a strong taboo against interspecies romance. Pei’s internal struggle between not wanting to keep this secret any longer but also not wanting to damage her career by telling everyone the truth was very similar to the internal struggle I went through when I was in the closet. Not for the first time reading one of Chambers’ books, I felt seen.

I fell in love with the other characters as well. Ouloo and Tupo were so wholesome, especially their efforts to make all their guests feel welcome. Roveg was impossible not to like, and his budding friendship with Speaker was heartwarming. In typical Chambers fashion, The Galaxy, and the Ground Within is an extremely character-driven story, maybe even more so than any of the previous books in this series. If you like that about this series, you’ll probably like this book too. If you didn’t, you probably won’t.

My one complaint about this book – other than the lack of plot, which I more or less expected – would be that the characters felt more introspective than in previous books, to the point where I sometimes felt I was being told and not shown their personalities and emotions. But overall, as always, the characters were great, their relationships were great, and the worldbuilding was spectacular.
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As a long-time Becky Chambers fan and Wayfarers series lover, it was a no brainer to request the fourth book. And while this isn't my favorite book in the series, it's a beautiful story with emotional arcs, lovable characters, and tender moments throughout. It made me so happy to spend time with Pei again and see her relationship with Ashby from another point of view! and the new characters introduced were quick to find a place in my heart. I loved Speaker and Tracker's sisterly bond and the exploration of division among different species. However, I did find the story slower than the other books in the series, so it took me a while to get into the swing of things. But I love every Wayfarers book and this one definitely belongs with the previous ones.
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The Galaxy and the Ground Within is the fourth - and seemingly final (according to the acknowledgements) - book in Becky Chambers' Hugo Winning "Wayfarer" series of novels, which began with A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet.  I've said on this blog many times before how much I prefer character-focused novels to plot or idea-focused ones, and the Wayfarer novels take that to an extreme: they feature practically no overarching plot, but instead stories of characters in a scifi world in which humans have left a devastated earth and met a mostly peaceful coalition of alien races.  It's an optimistic setting, and the first three books have all been tremendous, especially the first book and third (Record of a Spaceborn Few), so when this fourth book showed up on Netgalley, I requested it immediately and didn't dare hope to get a copy....and was extraordinarily excited when I did.  

And for the first time, I found myself not really thinking a book in this series actually worked.  The book has perhaps even less of a plot than its predecessors, and Chambers does an excellent job with the four main characters - this time around, there isn't a human among them, so we're dealing entirely with alien species and personalities here.  As usual, the book is pretty much a stand-alone exploration of these characters, something Chambers usually excels at.  But this time, Chambers attempts through one of the characters to also cover important issues of oppression, colonization, and the aftermath of it all and the attempt to touch on those themes clashes with the otherwise optimistic tone and it doesn't work at all.  It results in a a major misstep which for me almost overshadowed everything else.  


 ----------------------------------------------Plot Summary----------------------------------------------
The Planet Gora contains nothing of value...except for its location in the Galaxy, which allows it to serve as a hub for interstellar travelers with many different destinations.  So when three alien travelers - an Aeluon, a Quelin, and an Akarak, come to a resting stop on the planet - one run by a Laru and her child - they expect to do little more than stretch their legs or other appendages, stock up on fuel, and then depart.  

But when an accident causes a catastrophe in Gora's orbit, the five of them find themselves stuck together and forced to truly discover how their own perceptions of the galaxy and the races within it, not least of all their own, may not truly be accurate.....
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Yeah, this has to be one of my shortest plot summaries ever, because as with other Chambers books, there really isn't one other than seeing four/five (four point of view characters and one child) characters from different backgrounds - in this case alien races - mashed together in the same location and seeing how they interact and change from the experiences.  The biggest obvious difference from the other three books in this series is that none of the characters are human - we've met all four alien races before (and indeed, we've met one of these characters before - Pei, the Aeluon, is a minor character from book 1 who was the romantic partner of that book's captain Ashby), but never got to see any of this world from their own perspectives.  

And again, Chambers is excellent at showcasing the perspectives of these very different people/species.  You have Speaker, the most interesting of the characters, who is a member of a race in Akaraks who were once enslaved by another race and now no longer have a planet of their own and, due to being methane based, are forced to wear mecha-suits to coexist with other species.  They're also so short lived that each member of their species is forced to specialize (Speaker specializes in speaking to others) in their skills, and cannot take time for granted.  Then you have Roveg, the exiled Quelin whose race exiled him for daring to even hint that their xenophobic approach to the galaxy, blaming everyone else for their ills, might not be right.  Then there's our returning character Pei, who is both at comfort within her species' hierarchy and at the same time not at all due to her human lover, which puts her at odds with her species' taboos.  And you have the host Ouloo, a Laru who took up her job so she could teach her child that even other species deserved to be called family, not just other Laru.  All of these characters are well done in their personalities and in one particular common aspect - their clash with the cultural/racial norms of their species and their own desires (with one exception I'll get to in a second).  

And yet, despite the extremely good character work, for perhaps the first time in the series, the characters don't actually all have any particular character arcs...or when they do, they're not even particularly interesting.  Pei's arc is the most clearly defined - her species' biology forces her to make a choice between a cultural emphasis on reproduction and going to meet her human lover for a vacation (which readers may recall from the end of book 1).....but it's such an obvious choice that she's going to make, and while Chambers writes the conflict within her well, it's kind of a retro internal conflict (To have a child to meet the standards of a community vs to not have a child and to live with whom one wnats) that feels like something out of a book from 30 years ago?  Meanwhile, Roveg and Ouloo don't really have character arcs other than learning to like the other aliens and learning that their understanding of the galaxy isn't quite accurate, as evidenced by Speaker, whose race which is frequently stereotyped as untrustworthy and violent and cannot breath the same air as any other sentient race in the galaxy.  But Chambers still imbues these characters with such life that it still almost works as well as her other books.

And then there's Speaker, the best and yet most frustrating character, which is where Chambers' magic just stops working.  Don't get me wrong, Speaker is great as an individual character and easy to care for.  But Speaker's story is very much that of colonization and post-colonization and oppression, a darker subject and more difficult subject that has been previously handled by the series.  And the book portrays the devastation of that oppression of Speaker's race, the Akaraks, very well through Speaker's POV and a few excerpts from other documents (one in particular is tremendously quotable in this regard): they were conquered by another alien race and their planet made inhospitable for them with their unique methane-based way of life (instead of oxygen based) and even when freed, they have no home planet to go to....and the GC, largely controlled by those aliens, keeps finding reasons to not give them full status or another planet, all the while giving such recognition to other species such as humanity.  Speaker herself, who is an expert in communication with other races, finds that she has to censor herself slightly in how she speaks, so that she is always making everyone else feel comfortable.  It's an uncomfortably real and, for this series, uncharacteristically negative part of this universal setting, which has mostly before been portrayed positively, even if not utopian.  And it's a negative real world problem without answers that conflicts with the series' optimistic tone.  

This tonal dissonance leads to the book's big misstep, which for me at least overshadows everything.  I read this as an e-ARC so I won't quote anything, but Pei and Speaker have a conflict over Pei's support for the Aeluon war effort, in which Aeluon's defend border colonies from another species: from Speaker's perspective, while the other side is wrong, so are the Aeluons for taking "unclaimed" planets for themselves just because they got there first - from Pei's perspective, they were causing no one harm by taking the planets and their own homeworld almost killed them long ago in an ecological disaster, so their expansion was necessary.  Speaker is clearly right here (after all, why should the Aeluon's have such planets when they have plenty already, while Speaker's race is forbidden from having any planets they can live on) but the book never has Pei recognize that fact.  Instead, the two are forced to cooperate chapters later due to a crisis* and the book basically just moves on as if the conflict isn't as important as everyone having individual moments of happiness thereafter, which just...no.  It's made even worse by Speaker concluding that she can never be comfortable with what Pei does/believes - even if she believes Pei means well, because ignoring the issue just "allows problems to persist. - but then still acting as if she's friends with Pei anyhow (although Pei clarifies them as being "not friends")  

*A crisis which feels near identical to one from a prior book in the series, to make it even worse* 

This brings to mind events in our current world, in which certain people argue that we should respect or try to be friends with people of opposite political views....except that many of those political views feature those others absolutely believing that other people don't have the right to live.  And so Chambers' plot seems to both be recognizing the impossibility of such a coexistence/friendship and yet....also creating a situation where it happens anyway, even if the conflict isn't quite so personal as much as one over colonization.  This doesn't work, and the fact that it just gets forgotten in the conclusion just makes it stand out more (and I think this book might be the shortest in the series, making it harder to ignore).  And all over a conflict in which Speaker's side is clearly correct, which is never actually acknowledged by the other protagonist!  Like there's no ambivalence to be had here, and yet this is what we get.  And again it all results in the book basically dropping pretty much all dealing with the themes of oppression for the sake of happy individual endings, and just....that doesn't work.  The book is trying to have it both ways - to be the same optimistic sweet character based story as the prior books and to tackle the unanswerable issue of oppression, and it just can't pull it off.  

In a book where plot is irrelevant, and the important things are the characters, their arcs, and the themes, having a tonal conflict resolve like this just makes the whole thing not work, since there's little else left in the book other than character arcs that are a bit heartwarming, but otherwise insubstantial.  If this is truly the last book in the Wayfarer series, it's a shame, because while Chambers' craft is still clearly there, her message is for once muddled to the point where it all ends not on her usual moment of heartwarming, but in disappointment.
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I really enjoyed this book, but I think it would be even more enjoyable if you've read the previous books, which is totally my fault. Chambers is a great storyteller and the world building of the universe in this series is complex and entertaining.  

This route 66 style road trip is relatable and remarkable despite the uninhabitable planet. As the three travellers are stranded and forced together we see what total strangers can be to each other.
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Another fantastic book from Chambers - very character driven, with her always-excellent world & culture building. Loved it.
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This is the fourth book in the Wayfarer series (the books are only loosely connected, and can be read as standalones). Just like the other books this one is very character driven. But this book differs from the others in a big way. All of the books in the series have multiple alien species thrown together in a “found family“ situation. In the other books that found family was by their choosing, and for the most part everyone gets along great. But in this book they are FORCED into close proximity, and this brings conflict. Guess what? Not every species likes every other species. This brings about fighting, and questioning your preconceived notions (while also questioning the not so great parts about yourself). This twist brought a certain realism to this book that the others in the series don’t have. Yet another job well done by Becky Chambers!

Thank you to NetGalley and Avon & Harper Voyager for this advanced reader copy. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.
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Fans of Becky Chambers will not be disappointed. This is another sci fi novel with a positive tone that is focused more on species coming together and solving a problem then starting a war. I loved this story and found that it was everything I needed at the moment. It does connect to past books in the series, in many small and a few big ways. The ending brought tears to my eyes and I'm not afraid to say so. If you're not a fan of Becky Chambers then you're seriously missing out.
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This title was recommended as a "ray of hope" on a recent episode of the Beacon Podcast at https://mainebeacon.com/its-pouring-and-maine-shouldnt-hoard-its-rainy-day-fund/
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