A Closed And Common Orbit by Becky Chambers

Rating: 4 / 5 stars
Format: Hardback
Published: 20th October 2016
Book Depository | Goodreads

Lovelace was once merely a ship’s artificial intelligence. When she wakes up in an new body, following a total system shut-down and reboot, she has no memory of what came before. As Lovelace learns to negotiate the universe and discover who she is, she makes friends with Pepper, an excitable engineer, who’s determined to help her learn and grow.

Together, Pepper and Lovey will discover that no matter how vast space is, two people can fill it together.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet introduced readers to the incredible world of Rosemary Harper, a young woman with a restless soul and secrets to keep. When she joined the crew of the Wayfarer, an intergalactic ship, she got more than she bargained for – and learned to live with, and love, her rag-tag collection of crewmates.

I think the best way to describe this book is it’s about an artificial intelligence having an existential crisis. It’s about much more than that too. It’s about learning how to be a person and learning how to be tolerant of other species. But it’s mostly about an artificial intelligence having an existential crisis. And let’s be real here. If you were an AI thrown into a body and told to act like a human you would have some problems too.

I should really start at the beginning. A Closed And Common Orbit is the sort of sequel to The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet. I say sort of because though you don’t have to read Small, Angry Planet it does set up the universe these books are set in and Orbit does mention some of the things that happened in Planet so it may be helpful to read the first book before going into this.

I think my favourite thing about this whole series is the universe it’s set in. The whole point of these whole books is the characters learning to be tolerant of other species (something we desperately need nowadays). But it’s also interesting because Humans aren’t the dominant species in this universe. Which means they don’t have some of the privileges others may have. They are more like the Bolians of this universe. Or the Ferengi. Something like that.

But it’s also really clever how Becky Chambers has set up extremely different species, you don’t have any alien of the week here where the only difference from human is a strangely shaped forehead. Everything is different about each species from their physiology to politics to language and even to the way they rear children. It’s nice having a sci-fi book with so much diversity in it.

Basically I love this book (and Small, Angry Planet) because they are so character focused. This book is really the story of both Sidra and Pepper learning to live amongst people. I won’t say anything else in case I spoil it so you should really go read it if you want to learn more.

Thanks for reading.
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4 thoughts on “A Closed And Common Orbit by Becky Chambers

  1. This sounds amazing! I had to read the first sentence twice. Lovelace was merely a ship’s artificial intelligence. Huh? That wasn’t at all what I was expecting. Then your description of AI having an existential crisis sounds fascinating! Thanks for the recommendation.

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