Cover Image: The Galaxy, and the Ground Within

The Galaxy, and the Ground Within

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An almost perfect ending to a series of companion books I have loved to the moon and back. The first book, The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, is still at the top of my Wayfarer's heap; it being one of those books I would give six stars to if I could. The others only come in at 4.5 stars being judged against Long Way, and not SciFi literature in general. They are all strong contenders in the SciFi genre as a whole. I'm sorry to see the stories of the Wayfarer and her crew, their families, friends, and acquaintances come to an end.

This will be a series I will re-read more than once as I have the Dune series.

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An absolutely spectacular addition to this sci-fi series! I had yet to pick up any of Becky Chambers books prior to receiving this ARC, and so I binged the entire Wayfarers series right before reading this installment. I don't really binge series anymore, because it's been a long time since I came across a series that I just couldn't put down. However, I flew through the Wayfarers series! Chambers writing and character creation is incredible. I'm usually a more plot driven reader, but the characters are what really got me attached to this series. They're all so unique and complex and you root for every one of them. Also, the representation that she incorporates into her stories is fantastic.

I'm not sure is this is the last book in the series or not. I hope not. I can't wait to see what else Chambers has to bring to this story and these characters.

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An imaginative and heartwarming story about people
When a disaster disrupts travel and communications on the planet Gora, three travelers find themselves stranded at the Five-Hop One-Stop run by Ouloo and her sometimes cooperative offspring Tupo. The travelers are strangers from different planets and different species and are on journeys very important to their personal lives. The Galaxy, and the Ground Within tells the stories of Oulo and Tupo and the travelers as they all get to know each other and try to salvage their individual missions.
There are no humans in this book, but the characters are all PEOPLE, and Chambers does a wonderful job of getting her message of tolerance across through their stories, without having the message take over the book. As they all get to know each other, the characters come to accept each other, too, and the book wraps up with a lovely ending suggesting that the lessons they learned on Gora might be lasting ones.
The characters have their personhood in common but not much else. Becky Chambers imaginatively portrays the characteristics of each species, from their appendages to their living arrangements to their reproductive systems and customs. Pei is from a species that uses color for communication rather than vocalizing. Speaker cannot breathe oxygen and has to interact with everyone from a spacesuit. It certainly makes socializing challenging for her, but in one lovely episode Roveg overcomes those difficulties and has Speaker to breakfast and even provides food especially tailored to her species. But Speaker worries about her sister Tracker, who is on their stranded ship and has some medical challenges. Pei wants to get to a meeting with the person she loves. Roveg needs to see family. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
This is described as a four-part series, but I consider it four books set in the same universe. You can read and enjoy this book before reading the others, and reading it will not spoil the earlier books when you go back to read them also.
If you are looking for an action-packed adventure with bad guys or maybe dystopia, this is probably not your best choice. If, on the other hand, you enjoy a highly imaginative story about believable people, then The Galaxy, and the Ground Within might be just your cup of tea, or, if you are one of the travelers, your cup of mek.

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I have loved The Wayfarers series for a long while. Becky Chambers has created such a beautiful sci-fi world. Full of fun and inclusive stories, as well as addressing social issues in the way that good sci-fi does so well. The Galaxy And The Ground Within is no different. She introduces compelling new characters, and a familiar one, in a new setting. Her world building is exquisite and she manages to always leave me with love for all her characters and their sometimes alien ways. At the same time leaving me questioning if some of these things shouldn’t just be how humans handle certain issues. The Laru mother and child story hit me in this particular way for this book. That Tupo was allowed by Xyr species’ culture to choose the gender Xe are. That Xyr mother was happy and looked forward to the reveal, ready to celebrate For all outcomes. I felt very lucky to be approved by NetGalley to read an advanced copy of this book. I loved it, as I have every book I have read by Becky Chambers.

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I adore this series and I was sad that this was the finale! I love visiting the universe that Becky Chambers created. It took me awhile to really connect to the characters but by the end of the book I loved all of them. The beginning was a bit confusing as I was having a hard time keeping track of everything.

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Wowza, I realized after reading the entire book this is a sequel. It is that good! You will get hooked, but don’t do it like me. Start with the first one obviously first!

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Becky Chambers 4th installment of the Wayfarers series continues to delight readers. Her books show the optimism that science fiction used to have. Her ability to show how different species find ways to live among each other while still having their own ways of life and still respecting others gives us a template for how we should be on earth.

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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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