[Sci-Fi Month Read Along] The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, Week 4


Banner by Anya @ On Starships and Dragonwings
Banner by Anya @ On Starships and Dragonwings

We have arrived at the end of this Read Along, and almost at the end of this year’s Sci-Fi Month! It’s been wonderfully fun, and I want to thank everybody who took part in my first running of a Read Along – especially Claire and Chris, for co-hosting with me! You guys all rock.

This week we’re discussing “Heresy” to the end of the book, and as always, there will be major spoilers below.

Let’s start with the Toremi, since we’ve waited this long to get to them! As we’ve been discussing for a while, we do get to learn more about the Toremi, about their culture and how they think and behave. In light of what happens when the Wayfarer reaches Hedra Ka, what’s your take on the Toremi now? Are the GC right to abandon their negotiations or could there have been a chance to make something of it?

The Toremi are nothing short of dangerous, to themselves as well as to others. Given how volatile they are, as well as how seriously they take the need to be in perfect agreement, it’s no wonder things go wrong with the proposed alliance. I was concerned at first that the GC would find some dubious excuse to try to overlook or explain away what had happened with the Wayfarer, especially during Ashby’s report and their questioning, but it was a pleasant surprise when they dissolved that alliance in the end and decided the best thing was to leave the Toremi to do whatever the heck they will, and to stay out of it altogether. For once it’s decided NOT to go to war, and I couldn’t be more satisfied with that outcome. It would be nice to see such reasonable, sensible thinking in the real world, where it counts, as well…

A visit to a Solitary Sianat colony in “Heresy” provides a potential cure for Ohan’s illness, but they make it fairly clear they don’t want it – though there may be some debate about whether or not Ohan is in their right mind… Corbin takes matters into his own hands in that respect, and he does it in a crucial moment following the attack on the Wayfarer. Do you think Corbin did the right thing?

This part of the story was more troubling for me, because to be honest I’m not entirely at ease with the way this played out. I don’t think Corbin acted wrongly, precisely, but taking Ohan’s life into his own hands without Ohan’s express permission is going to seem morally shady no matter how you look at it, right?

On the other hand, I can’t say I’m sorry that Ohan survived. I like this character very much, and the thought of what might have happened – to the Wayfarer as well as to Ohan – if Corbin hadn’t done what he did is also troubling. I think Corbin was the only one truly capable of doing what he did, and this was something he recognised and acted upon. I do think it was done for the right reasons, even if it wasn’t handled in the best way, but in a crisis situation that was the hand they were dealt. So it’s a moral grey area, but consider the outcome:

‘I should go to Arun now,’ Ohan said. ‘I am Solitary, and that is where I should go. It is the way of things. […] But I do not want to.’
‘Do you have to go?’ Ashby said. ‘Will your people do anything to you if you don’t?’
Ohan blinked three times. ‘No. We are … expected to do things. And we do them. We do not question.’ He looked confused. ‘I don’t know why. These things made sense, before. And they made sense to the Solitary you met. But not to me. Perhaps it is because they have never been around other species without the Whisperer. They never saw any other way to be.’
Ashby spoke with care. ‘Ohan, what do you want to do?’
‘I want,’ Ohan said rolling his tongue as though he were tasting the words. ‘I want to stay.’ His forelegs trembled, but he set his jaw. ‘Yes. Yes.’ The trembling stopped. ‘And I want to have dinner. With my crew.’

MY FEELINGS. THEY HAVE EXPLODED. It’s such a simple thing, but here it’s so much more than that, and I confess, Dr Chef wasn’t the only one who started crying at this exchange. I WANT TO HUG OHAN SO BADLY. So, yes. It’s harder to argue against what Corbin did when we have an outcome like this…

Ohan survives the attack on the ship, but Lovey (as we know her) doesn’t. Were you at all prepared for what happened to the AI? And in light of all that, do you think Pepper’s offered solution was the right one?

Again, with the exploding feelings. I was so wrecked by this outcome. I was not ready! Poor Lovey. Poor Jenks! I don’t think I’ve ever had such an emotional reaction to the ‘death’ of an AI before. This was done really well in that respect, and also in the aftermath, with Pepper’s solution and the reasoning that leads Lovelace to accept. This scene shows us that there could still have been a Lovey inside her somewhere, but I think Pepper was right – it was kinder not to subject Jenks to constant reminders of her when it’s better for him to be able to grieve, and to heal.

This one is less of a “thinky” question and more of a “wrap up” one, but I’m curious for your answers – now that we’ve finished the story, what scenes/moments do you remember best as your favourites, if any?

The one I quoted, with Ohan and Chef and the idea of the Sianat having a meal for the first time, is definitely one I loved. Corbin joining the crew for it, awkward conversation and all, was a nice touch too! Feelings, feelings, everywhere…

Elsewhere, there’s Sissix and Rosemary learning to *ahem* get to know each other better, and for giggles there was Sissix and Ashby’s scrib chat when they get the Hedra Ka job. Cold fingers. *Grin* And speaking of giggles…

‘Hey. Kizzy,’ Jenks said.
‘I ate a har-monica! These socks – match – my hat!’
[…] ‘Socks! Match – my hat! Socks! Match – my hat! Step on – some – sweet – toast! Socks! Match – my hat!’

Man, there are too many moments and scenes to list! But those are definitely among the standout ones for me. *Happy sigh* I love this book so much. So, so much. So much, in fact, that I’m actually sad that it’s over. A sequel would be so very welcome! Who’s with me?


2 thoughts on “[Sci-Fi Month Read Along] The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, Week 4

  1. What a great finish – and thank you for arranging this readalong, such good fun.
    I had really mixed feelings about the whole Corbin/Ohan situation. Like you said, the outcome was good and so I’ve gone with the overall feeling that Corbin’s actions worked out well. I don’t really like that he took control without permission but then you could argue that Ohan wasn’t in a position any longer to make decisions – it’s all still very dubious isn’t it!
    I never saw the outcome with Lovey coming at all! It really surprised me and at the back of my mind I was reading along, quite blaize really, just expecting Chambers to pull the rabbit out of the hat and come up with some miracle restoration for Lovey – so that was a real sucker punch!
    I loved Sissex – she was hands down my favourite character! Dr Chef is a very close second though.
    Lynn 😀

  2. Thanks Lisa for hosting this last week of questions. What a ride! I had so much fun – this book just leaves me feeling so happy (even though there were tragic moments in the story).

    I agree with you that what Corbin did was definitely something I would be uncomfortable doing, though I can see why he did it and why it was only him that could do it. But, yeah, Ohan himself feels like taking the cure is killing a part of himself. And how do we really know whether that is his virus speaking or not? And does that even matter? Because Ohan and the virus are one being, now.

    Also, Lovey. The whole thing is devastating. Especially when she tells Jenks about having recording all those conversations they had together and about how she loved him since the day he installed her. It’s just so freakin’ sad.

    I like how Becky Chambers doesn’t seek to wrap things up neatly. Everyone’s super broken by the end of the story. But there’s hope. Ohan coming to join them for dinner was so touching. If I were a Grum, I would be pressing my cheeks with my handfeet, too!

    Now, I’m just going to spend the rest of the day riding the feels from this book 😀

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