Book review: Record of a Spaceborn Few, by Becky Chambers

Chambers, Becky. Record of a Spaceborn Few. Harper Voyager. 2018. $16.99. HB/PB. ISBN: 9780062699220.

The third book in the Wayfarers series, Record of a Spaceborn Few picks up during the final events of the first book in the series, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. It’s not necessary to read the first book to understand this one but Chambers’s storytelling will probably leave you wanting to revisit this universe.

This book follows the stories of four humans who are making lives in the galaxy centuries after their ancestors left Earth and headed for the stars. Tessa, who has held a working class job in the Fleet for years but her position is being threatened by advancing technology; Kip, a teenager who wants a change but doesn’t know where to start; Sawyer, who has packed up his life for a new one, hoping to find a community, and Isabel, an archivist preserving humanity’s past and honoring its future.

The Wayfarers universe is rich with complex characters, a vast variety of non-human species, and many different civilizations with their own rules, traditions, and social orders. The series is very slice-of-life with a large focus on character development. Refreshingly, gender and sexuality are portrayed as very fluid. Gender is never automatically assumed and gender neutral pronouns are preferred by some characters. No one assigns a gender to anyone else based on assumptions or before they’ve met someone and learned their preference. Sexual orientation is fluid and the societies we are introduced to do not seem to have any sexuality based prejudices.

At its core, Record of a Spaceborn Few is an exploration of human connection and community. It is a vision of a potential future where cultures are generally respectful of each other, sustainability is valued, and connections are formed in a variety of unconventional ways. This book comes strongly recommend, especially to queer fans of sci-fi.

Review by Cat Ruth-Coleman.

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