A Closed and Common Orbit

Becky Chambers. Harper Voyager, $16.99 trade paper (464p) ISBN 978-0-06-256940-0
This worthy sequel to Chambers’s lovely debut, The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, again features marvelously detailed aliens, a universe full of carefully observed peculiarities, and a friendly, soothing atmosphere. This time, though, there’s more emotional weight and depth, adding a necessary ominous shading to Chambers’s generally calming voice. It’s illegal for AIs to have bodies that can be mistaken for those of other sentient beings, but Lovelace downloaded herself into a human-form body on her first day of existence, more to help her ship’s crew than by her real choice. Now, assisted by friendly tech Pepper, Lovelace has to figure out her new identity and make a new life for herself, including how to hack various portions of her own code to keep from being caught and destroyed. Simultaneously, Pepper’s backstory as a cloned factory slave on a rogue planet that doesn’t adhere to galactic laws is brought to the forefront, since not everything from her past can or should remain in the past. Chambers’s clean, careful prose and beautiful pacing and structure keep the narrative engrossing from beginning to end. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 04/10/2017
Release date: 03/01/2017
Open Ebook - 384 pages - 978-0-06-256942-4
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