Cover Image: The Galaxy, and the Ground Within

The Galaxy, and the Ground Within

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The final installment of The Wayfarer series highlights what Becky Chambers does so well. Chambers writes science fiction that focus on small stories about the everyday people of the universe in a way that is both kind and friendly. This wonderfully warm approach to a traditionally cool genre is refreshing.
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This was a lovely story, as I expected it would be, considering how the other books in the series were. It’s the story of a small planet called Gora, which is largely unremarkable except for its location. It has no water, no air, no life that didn’t come from somewhere else, nothing. It just so happens to be at a good distance between other popular travel destinations. So, it’s a good place for a stopover, refueling, and so on. It’s basically a space truck-stop.

The Five-Hop One-Stop is run by Ooli Oht Ouloo and her child, Tupo. They are Laru, which is a kind of long-necked, furry, quadrupedal sapient species. Ouloo makes it a point to be as welcoming to all walks of life as she can be, and Tupo helps xyr mother the best that xe can.

On this particular day, she has three incoming shuttles docking. One is a Quelin (a sort of insectoid species), one is Aeluon (bipedal aliens who communicate through facial colours), and one is Anarak, which, I think are a type of… very small, beaked alien?

The point is that all of these people are very, very different from each other. Many of their species don’t really get along with others. Some are outright reclusive. So, when an accidental cascade failure of the planet’s entire satellite network causes all three of them to get stuck on Gora at the Five-Hop One-Stop, they find themselves somewhat reluctantly spending time together. Ouloo has made them as welcome as she can, and they learn about each other, and how they’re not actually so different after all, even despite being very different physiologically.

Just by its very nature, there is a lot of information here about each species, as each of them learns of the others, which I thought was fascinating. We’ve seen some of these species before in other Wayfarers books, but this one gets in depth again, which I didn’t mind because it’s been a while. I quite enjoyed learning about new alien species, and imagining how they do day to day tasks.

I loved some of these characters very much, especially as the story went on. I think I related the most to Pei, who goes through some stuff in this book that I can really relate to. Feeling as though you are… meant to do a thing… pressured to do a thing that you just… don’t want to do. I can relate. I got teary-eyed at times with Pei.

But even with the bit of teariness, The Galaxy and the Ground Within is often chuckle-out-loud funny. There is one passage in here which has four entirely different species of people, none of which are human, trying to understand (in increasing horror as it goes on) what cheese is. It was one of the funniest things I’ve ever read, because when you really think about it, cheese would be weird as hell to aliens.

All told, I thought that this was a wonderful conclusion to The Wayfarers, and while I am sad to see it end, I can’t wait to see what Becky Chambers has for us in the future!
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The fourth and final book in Becky Chambers’ fabulous Wayfarers series is coming out in the U.S. on April 20, and I’m thrilled to have been granted access to the #ARC. 

Chambers breathes new life into her universe of the Galactic Commons with each book, as she introduces new captivating alien species each time. In The Galaxy, and the Ground Within, Chambers takes a 12 Angry Men approach to the story. Five beings from four very different planets are stuck at the Five-Hop One-Stop, a galactic B&B of sorts, when a freak accident strands everyone on the planet until power and utilities can be restored. In an effort to pass the time, this group of strangers get to know each other and in doing so, get to know each other’s species and cultures in a way that never would have happened otherwise. And just when tensions are at their highest and mutual understanding has reached an impasse, tragedy strikes, forcing the group to put aside their differences and work together. 

As in the three previous books in this series, the characters are a mix of endearing and complicated, making for the ultimate debate over cultural differences, awareness, and acceptance. I’m going to miss this universe but I can’t wait to read what Chambers comes up with next!

A huge thank you to @NetGalley, @AvonBooks, and @HarperVoyagerUS for the advanced copy of this book! I’m a huge fan of the Wayfarers series and couldn’t wait to read this one. 

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / The Galaxy, and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers / Pages: 336 / Genre: Sci-Fi / Release Date: Apr. 20, 2021
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A worthy final installment of a series that does so much and is so interesting and endearing. 

More and more in recent years when I really like something I find myself using the phrase “good hearted” or “has a good heart” and I think that describes The Wayfarers series to a tee. While not everyone gets along and the world certainly isn’t perfect, good people are capable of learning from their mistakes and often a platonic love suffuses the world building and becomes the binding glue of the universe. 

A lovely, cozy sci-fi.
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I don’t know how Becky Chambers does it but literally every book is better than the previous one. Of course I loved this one, it’s Chambers–she could write the phone book and I’d be impressed. I’m always amazed at the raw edges of humanity she’s able to explore, even when there’s not a human among the characters. She never fears to dig into the heart of the matter, and this is why I love her work.

The Galaxy, and The Ground Within is very much like most of the other Wayfarer books in that it’s slice of life in space. Our characters (except for a mother and child) are all strangers to one another at the start of the story and would have remained so except that due to a failure of technology they’re all stranded together at this pit-stop for an extended length of time with little to no communication as to what’s happening other than they must remain in place until things are cleared for launch. The group all come from very different backgrounds and are moving through this port for different reasons. The various members of this group are all worried about different things–will they make it to where they’re going on time, what about their loved ones, is everything okay on the rest of this planet? To alleviate some of that worry the hostess of the stop decides to try and bring the group together and make everyone comfortable. Left with little to do other than to get to know one another, that’s exactly what they do.

Now, this is where Chambers writing really comes to life. Each of these characters is lovely in their own way. They all have very distinct backgrounds and back stories, motivations and what not. And they’re all good people at the end of the day. But that doesn’t mean they won’t have conflict with one another, even with the effort each of them makes to be polite to one another within the context of each of their species. You have the hostess who tries to make everyone comfortable and accommodate everyone but still sometimes makes mistakes. But she tries and she’s willing to learn. And no one condemns her for getting things wrong because she’s trying. And then you have two characters arguing over a war and who is in the right. (Turns out war is complicated.) You have a character exiled from his homeland. You have a character that everyone fears because their species isn’t understood and is marginalized, left to the fringes of this galactic society. All of these people with their stories coming together makes for some great conversations and leaves the reader with a lot of food for thought.

I think the message at the heart of this book is that we would all be far better off if we understood each other more and took the time to do that. Let’s have extended conversations instead of drive-by twitter posturing. You don’t have to always agree with each other but it’s important to at least understand someone else’s point of view and by listening maybe you can learn something. The characters in this were forced to slow down and interact with each other due to circumstances, but maybe we should all take some time out of this fast-paced world to stop and get to know each other more. Maybe the world would be a slightly better place for it. And that’s why I loved this book and all of Chambers’ writing–she imagines how the world could be better. 5/5 stars.

NOTE: this review will go live on my blog on 4/6/21 (link will not be live until then).
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When I think about space operas, I think about this series. This book, as its predecessors, was a quite, simple yet complex, tale about different individuals getting together and just being themselves, challenging their lives and how they view others.

The story takes place on a space "truck stop" after an accident forces three very different individuals to stay there for a while. We have aliens from different cultures, upbringings, and experiences, all together, knowing each other outside history books. They will learn more about themselves and how little they actually know about what's outside their civilization.

The characters stuck there, plus the mom and kid who run the Five-Hop, will form a bond like no other. Not without confrontation and learning opportunities. Each of them, very different, with a story to tell, places to go, decisions to make.

There's no way to explain this book and its simple complexities. This is a quiet space opera you have to experience for yourself. This series is one of the sweetest I've ever read and I will never stop recommending it.
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Last book in the Wayfarers series. Very cozy space opera.

Due to a planet-wide power outage, 3 different travelers are stranded at a rest stop/motel. Told to shelter in place until the crisis is over, they slowly engage with each other and the innkeepers. All of them are regular people trying to do their best at what needs to be done; all of them have made extraordinary choices. 

Told from multiple points of view, Note: none of these POV characters are human, although they are united by a disgust at learning that human adults eat cheese voluntarily.
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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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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
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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 ✪

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.


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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