Book review: Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers

Book cover

Record of a Spaceborn Few is the third volume in the Wayfarers series by Becky Chambers; it is a stand alone novel, simply set in the same universe as the other two books. Humans fled the Earth centuries ago. Some stayed living on the spaceships that they used to leave. They have a fascinating society in which a mostly communal system seems to work pretty well. Other people are living on various planets in the Galactic Commons, along with several other species.

This book is a quiet one; there is relatively little action. Instead, it focuses on the characters and their situations. Kip, for instance, is an adolescent boy who lives in the fleet but wants to leave because nothing in his life really matters. Like many adolescents before him, he doesn’t recognize that this problem won’t be solved by going to another place. Sawyer is an adult male who returns to the fleet seeking “something new”. Isabel is an archivist, working to preserve history and Eyas is a caretaker, which has no direct analogue to present day Earth, but is something like funeral director combined with grief counselor.

If you want a book where brave human heroes fight bug eyed monsters, this is not for you. If you want space battles or breathless depictions of fancy new technology, this is not for you. But if you want an interesting and moving depiction of what it means to be human and how that might change when we meet new species and live in new circumstances, this definitely is for you.

Highly recommended.