A Review of the Wayfarer books by Becky Chambers: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet and A Closed and Common Orbit

I want to say this immediately: I adore Becky Chambers. I was originally drawn to her because, as a fellow writer of science fiction, she appealed to me anyway. She also found success in the world of self-publishing, which, as many of us are aware, is notoriously difficult.

So, on a rare afternoon to myself, I popped to a bookshop, picked up her first book, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, and grabbed a coffee.

I was immediately drawn into a universe that bristles with diversity and imagination. Her characters are some of the most tangible I have ever come across, and the most adorable. Kizzy was a real favourite of mine, and Chambers portays her with humour and realism. Oh, I won’t forget to mention, the novel is hilarious.

Importantly, both novels also question cultural and sexual norms. I have always said that science fiction should be a mirror we hold to ourselves, albeit a subtle and enjoyable one. Can a human really fall in love with an AI? Do relationships have to be monogamous and grounded? Chambers doesn’t ask these questions – to do so would be crass – but the multiple storylines, expertly handled, make the reader ask them anyway.

I read the book in two days. Who needs sleep?

Hungrily, I moved onto book two.

A Closed and Common Orbit was a great read – another book that was consumed hungrily – but it was different. Here, Chambers decides to focus on only two characters in depth, and it is fair to say that these characters were not given enough space (pun probably intended) in book one.

What ensues is a highly structured and moving character story, which broke and mended my heart a couple of times over. I didn’t love it quite as much as The Long Way, but that’s because I love The Long Way really quite a lot.

As a writer of space operas myself, it is hardly surprising that the prejudice that clouds this genre sits badly with me, but Chambers blows the critics out of the water.

She’s an amazing author. Added to that, she’s lovely. Check out the gorgeous email she sent me today, when I wrote to her about my own novel, Worlds Away

Her third book is out on the 7th September, so if you haven’t read her yet, get cracking. There’s a lot of catching up to do.

Which new world to inhabit?

After publishing my debut novel, Worlds Away, last month, I have been overwhelmed by the support and encouragement I’ve received, from friends and strangers in equal measure. One question, though, is always the same. “When are you writing the next one?”

Surprisingly, that’s a tough one to answer. I have made no secret that Worlds Away is the first in a trilogy, a trilogy that I have already planned  (on a spreadsheet, no less) and have even, cautiously, penned an ending for. I love the characters, and I want to write it.

The problem, though, is that I’ve also had another idea, an idea which is niggling and biting at my subconscious each day, and I therefore feel like I’m cheating on my first love.

When writing Worlds Away, there is no question that I partially inhabited that world. I would be jogging, pushing the pram, cooking tea, whatever, and something about Kolwick or Oscar 70 would occur to me and be the most important thing. I’d have to write it down with a genuine degree of urgency, before carrying on with my day.

Unfortunately, I’m not a full-time writer, so I feel like I can only commit to one project at once.

So what to do? Which world should I inhabit? Will it be the already ongoing project that readers are actually asking for, or my new, exciting, secret love?

It seems that it’ll just have to be both of them.

So long, reality.

Inhabit

A Review of the Wayfarer books by Becky Chambers: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet and A Closed and Common Orbit

I want to say this immediately: I adore Becky Chambers. I was originally drawn to her because, as a fellow writer of science fiction, she appealed to me anyway. She also found success in the world of self-publishing, which, as many of us are aware, is notoriously difficult.

So, on a rare afternoon to myself, I popped to a bookshop, picked up her first book, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, and grabbed a coffee.

I was immediately drawn into a universe that bristles with diversity and imagination. Her characters are some of the most tangible I have ever come across, and the most adorable. Kizzy was a real favourite of mine, and Chambers portays her with humour and realism. Oh, I won’t forget to mention, the novel is hilarious.

Importantly, both novels also question cultural and sexual norms. I have always said that science fiction should be a mirror we hold to ourselves, albeit a subtle and enjoyable one. Can a human really fall in love with an AI? Do relationships have to be monogamous and grounded? Chambers doesn’t ask these questions – to do so would be crass – but the multiple storylines, expertly handled, make the reader ask them anyway.

I read the book in two days. Who needs sleep?

Hungrily, I moved onto book two.

A Closed and Common Orbit was a great read – another book that was consumed hungrily – but it was different. Here, Chambers decides to focus on only two characters in depth, and it is fair to say that these characters were not given enough space (pun probably intended) in book one.

What ensues is a highly structured and moving character story, which broke and mended my heart a couple of times over. I didn’t love it quite as much as The Long Way, but that’s because I love The Long Way really quite a lot.

As a writer of space operas myself, it is hardly surprising that the prejudice that clouds this genre sits badly with me, but Chambers blows the critics out of the water.

She’s an amazing author. Added to that, she’s lovely. Check out the gorgeous email she sent me today, when I wrote to her about my own novel, Worlds Away

Her third book is out on the 7th September, so if you haven’t read her yet, get cracking. There’s a lot of catching up to do.

Worlds Away by V. E. Bolton Climbs to #2 in science fiction romance on Amazon

The title says it all, really, but I am pretty pleased.  The novel is currently ranking #199 overall out of over 6 million books on Amazon, which I think is quite an achievement.  Today has also seen a record number of downloads within a 24 hour period.

Yes, it’s been a good day in the world of self-publishing!  I would encourage any authors who are on the fence to join me.  It’s exhilarating.

Capture

Worlds Away: writing the second book in a trilogy

Long before I finished Worlds Away, I knew that it was going to be part of a trilogy.  The story that lay, hazy and nebulous, in my mind, could not be told in one novel, and not in just two. That said, I like the neatness of a trilogy, and am not planning to go beyond three, for now anyway.

Perhaps it is a little like children, and one day I will say ‘one more,’ but for now, a trilogy it is.  

I’m not sure how conventional this is, but I’ve already written my ending, and am now gearing myself up for the sheer joy of moving from Point A to Point B.  Or Point B to Point C, if we are being exact.

I can’t wait. I expect I’ll be bereft when it’s over. 

Today, I spent the day with my family in one of my favourite places on Earth: the National Space Centre in Leicester, consuming everything spacey with a hungry pleasure. If it is research, I love research.

Below is a visual clue about what is set to happen in book two, and it’s all I’m offering at this point in time. If you’ve read Worlds Away closely, it might give you an idea. Think carefully:

Worlds Away

Worlds Away – V. E. Bolton

My debut novel is now available in paperback and as an ebook!

Overpopulation has pushed planet Earth to breaking point: the Expansion is taking up every available resource, or at least according to the Panel. Luckily, they have the perfect solution. Their rigorous intelligence test will sort people into Supplementary Humans, who exist only to serve, and Betters, who lead the Cause.
Many believe the Cause to be lost, but Charlotte Dobson alone has the answer, and it lies at the heart of the fabled planet, Oscar 70. Little does Charlotte know that this discovery will challenge everything she knows about the universe, including the outdated notion of ‘love,’ and the fabric of time itself.