Review: Record of a Spaceborn Few

“Our species doesn’t operate by reality. It operates by stories. Cities are a story. Money is a story. Space was a story, once. A king tells us a story about who we are and why we’re great, and that story is enough to make us go kill people who tell a different story. Or maybe the people kill the king because they don’t like his story and have begun to tell themselves a different one.” ~ Becky Chambers, Record of a Spaceborn Few

Record of A Spaceborn Few (Wayfarers #3) by Becky Chambers
358 pages
Published by Harper Voyager
Genre: Science fiction
Re-readability: I won’t be revisiting this one, sadly
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed by Pete
Spoiler-free review

When I first read The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, I felt like I was entering a colorful galaxy filled with a diverse group of lifeforms—some bizarre, some war-mongering, some peaceful, some human-like. There are so many interesting aspects to this fictional galaxy and the species of the Galactic Commons. It has a rich history, complex politics, and memorable characters. I couldn’t wait to explore more of it.

A Record of A Spaceborn Few does just that, following several characters on the fleet of generation ships that took humans away from a drying Earth known as the Exodus Fleet. However, it is more of a slice-of-life story than a character-driven adventure, as the first book in the Wayfarers series was.

I could give you the back-of-the-book summary of the several protagonists and their separate stories, but you can find that easily enough on your own.

The story follows a format that seems to be a little to common for my tastes these days: Here are several people with very different lives and different struggles. They are all missing something, and they go about their lives trying to find that spark that will make things right. At the very end of the story they all bump into each other and it’s a bit too cutesy.

The most interesting part of this book was the setting: a fleet of generation ships still inhabited by descendants of their original passengers decades later. However, this is not explored in a way that interested me, and I felt as though this story could have been told just as easily about New York City or London.

I think that realistic slice-of-life sci-fi can be a lot of fun, and just because a story didn’t need a sci-fi setting doesn’t mean it is problematic. However, much like the second book in the series, this third entry just didn’t align with the expectations I set for it after reading the first book.

This is not a bad book. I can’t find many things I disliked about it, but I can’t find many I liked either.

Chambers has shown us that her galaxy is full of diverse beings who go on amazing adventures. And in this book, she reminds us of this a few times with references to the ongoings of the crew of the Wayfarer. Why can’t we read about the Wayfarer—the titular spaceship of the series—and its wonderful crew again?

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