Somewhere within our crowded sky, a crew of wormhole builders hops from planet to planet, on their way to the job of a lifetime. To the galaxy at large, humanity is a minor species, and one patched-up construction vessel is a mere speck on the starchart. This is an everyday sort of ship, just trying to get from here to there.
But all voyages leave their mark, and even the most ordinary of people have stories worth telling. A young Martian woman, hoping the vastness of space will put some distance between herself and the life she‘s left behind. An alien pilot, navigating life without her own kind. A pacifist captain, awaiting the return of a loved one at war.
Set against a backdrop of curious cultures and distant worlds, this episodic tale weaves together the adventures of nine eclectic characters, each on a journey of their own.
Apart from Sophie shoving it under my nose, I didn't know much about the story before I started it. And I'm really glad I had so many recommendations because I absolutely loved it! It reminded me very strongly of Firefly in the ragtag group coming together on an adventure. We follow a crew on their job of punching holes in the fabric of time to create portals across space. It balanced character stories with epic space adventures and I loved it for that.
I instantly fell in love with all of them; Kizzy was very easy to love, with her random outbursts, her manic humour and her partner in crime Jenks was awesome and his love for Lovey, the ship's AI, was adorable and brought up all these questions on sentience and the soul. Then there was Sissex in all her glorious scales and feather, Dr Chef with his multiple limbs and complicated language, their navigator Ohan and engineer Corbin. Add in the mix newcomer Rosemary and their captain Ashby, and we have humans, humanoids and aliens living together, each with their own histories and reasons for being part of this crew.
What I especially loved was how this alien mix just blew human mannerisms out of the water! It contained surprisingly in-depth alien backgrounds, from Sissex's reptile race that has no inhibitions, to Ohan's religious beliefs that has them referring to themselves as a Pair. With the characters own explanations and odd documents like excerpts from books and emails, we got a pretty clear picture of each species completely different beliefs, actions, backgrounds and languages. I also loved how humanity was put in its place!
Let's not forget the aim of this story: taking on a previously impossible mission to create a travel route to a hostile part of space. We encounter a terrible alien species that challenge the rest of the universe's peaceful ways. Between their own crew and new contact with that species, Chambers challenges all misconceptions about what it means to be human, or a good person in a vast universe. I loved everything about this, I'm sure you can guess how much I adored the characters, but the story and the emptiness of space pulled everything together in an amazing tale of love and adventure.
13th August 2015 by Hodder and Stoughton.