Record of a Spaceborn Few
by Becky Chambers
Centuries after the last humans left Earth, the Exodus Fleet is a living relic, a place many are from but few outsiders have seen. Humanity has finally been accepted into the galactic community, but while this has opened doors for many, those who have not yet left for alien cities fear that their carefully cultivated way of life is under threat.
Tessa chose to stay home when her brother Ashby left for the stars, but has to question that decision when her position in the Fleet is threatened.
Kip, a reluctant young apprentice, itches for change but doesn’t know where to find it.
Sawyer, a lost and lonely newcomer, is just looking for a place to belong.
When a disaster rocks this already fragile community, those Exodans who still call the Fleet their home can no longer avoid the inescapable question:
What is the purpose of a ship that has reached its destination?
Ah, Becky Chambers does it again.
Ever since I read The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, which is not only one of my favourite science fiction novels but one of my favourite novels period, I’ve been following Becky Chambers’ literary career and eagerly awaiting anything she releases.
While I enjoyed A Closed and Common Orbit, Record of a Spaceborn Few sounded more similar to TLWtaSAP, focusing not on two characters as ACaCO did, but on a whole community of people who live on a ship and are descended from the people who first left Earth on that same ship many years before.
If you’re a fan of plot-driven science fiction, this probably isn’t the book for you. While there is an event that ties the various characters we meet together, this novel feels like being invited into a spaceship to watch the everyday lives of its inhabitants, and that’s the kind of science fiction I love. I love slow, character-focused science fiction and I really enjoyed learning about the community in this novel who, rather than trying to reach a new planet, have made a permanent home of the ship their ancestors left Earth in.
As a whole, this book is an exploration of community and what ‘home’ really means. There are characters who are frustrated by life on the spaceship and long for a planet and planetside characters who long for the lifestyle on a ship that’s seen generation after generation of families. Ultimately, the message is clear: community is what we choose it to be, and home isn’t necessarily a place but the people we call family.
Honestly this is a difficult book to review because there’s little I can say without giving too much away about the direction the story takes. All I will say is that I still adore Chambers’ science fiction and the way she writes about differing cultures and relationships and how the smallest acts of kindness can make the world of difference.