When I requested the ARC of this book from Netgalley, I had no idea that this book has such an interesting backstory. Chambers completed the book with the help of Kickstarter funding and self-published it in 2014, where it gathered a following of fans, culminating in being short-listed in the ‘best debut’ category of the Kitchies – an impressive feat for a self-published book. Unsurprisingly, it has now been scooped up by Hodderscape and is to be re-released tomorrow.
When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn’t expecting much. The Wayfarer, a patched-up ship that’s seen better days, offers her everything she could possibly want: a small, quiet spot to call home for a while, adventure in far-off corners of the galaxy, and distance from her troubled past. But Rosemary gets more than she bargained for with the Wayfarer. The crew is a mishmash of species and personalities, from Sissix, the friendly reptillian pilot, to Kizzy and Jenks, the constantly sparring engineers who keep the ship running. But Rosemary isn’t the only person on board with secrets to hide, and the crew will soon discover that space may be vast, but spaceships are very small indeed.
So is all the buzz about this book merited? Oh yes, without a doubt. If you enjoyed Firefly then give this book a go, as it manages to recreate the same vibe that had so many of us tuning in to see what would happen next to the crew. While Rosemary is the protagonist, this tale is as much about the varied crew and their fortunes as they serve aboard the Wayfarer. Chambers manages to deftly sidestep pages of description by focusing on the fascinating different alien lifeforms peopling the ship.
It’s always a big ask to depict aliens such that they seem realistic and sympathetic, without being merely humans with odd names and the occasional nifty add-on. Chambers has triumphantly succeeding in providing a range of fascinating lifeforms that explore the notions of gender and how to cope with difference, while stretching our preconceptions of parenting and family life.
Most of this is delivered during a long, relatively uneventful voyage. So if you need to immerse yourself in full-on action and battle scenes then this isn’t for you- you know what? Go and track down this book, anyway. You might have thought you needed full-on bangs, chases and lots of nasty-looking characters waving weapons around to create a page-turner, but this book gives you another option. Try it.
The world is detailed, interesting and intelligently depicted with plenty of narrative tension and I found myself reading looong into the
night early morning to discover what happens next. I even dreamed about the book, waking up happy and excited that I’d finally achieved a walk in space, a childhood dream that I now know I’ll never achieve. But Chambers’ writing took me there, anyway. This is science fiction at its enjoyable best.
The book was provided by Netgalley, but the review is my own work and opinion.