With a new name and ID chip, Rosemary takes a job as a clerk aboard a patched-up construction vessel that punches wormholes throughout the galaxy. As she leaves behind her family and her former existence, Rosemary experiences life in space, a host of new alien species, and new friends and family in her crew, including an alien pilot living estranged from her kind, the pacifist captain whose girlfriend is at war, and an AI who longs for a body so she can be with her human lover.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is one of the most uplifting books I’ve read in a long time, presenting a view that despite all the bad in the world, most people are beautiful and understanding at heart. This ragtag crew of nine have a few adventures on their way to the biggest (and most well-paid) job of their lifetimes, during which they conscientiously learn to care for one another while eating well-cooked insects. What the diverse crew of the original Star Trek did for ethnicity, the Wayfarer crew does for normalizing differences in gender and sexuality, in addition to touching on other themes of justified war, biological weapons, and the right-to-die.

Despite all the love, there are multiple elements of the story that don’t quite work for me. The distinct, quirky characters are all very open and learn about each others’ cultures by asking questions, but without much conflict or change of personal viewpoints, the friendships themselves feel unearned. The plotting is uneven, and despite ticking time bombs, pirates, and a few tights spots, the stakes never feel very high. Read this one for the charm.

Recommended for fans in need of some breezy, diverse, feel-good science fiction!

“All you can do, Rosemary – all any of us can do – is work to be something positive instead. That is a choice that every sapient must make every day of their life. The universe is what we make of it. It’s up to you to decide what part you will play.”