Review: A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers

Review: A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky ChambersA Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers
Series: Wayfarers #2
Also by this author: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet
Published by Harper Voyager on October 18th 2016
Pages: 464
Format: eARC
Also in this series: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

Thanks to Harper Voyager for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


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Lovelace was once merely a ship's artificial intelligence. When she wakes up in an new body, following a total system shut-down and reboot, she has no memory of what came before. As Lovelace learns to negotiate the universe and discover who she is, she makes friends with Pepper, an excitable engineer, who's determined to help her learn and grow.
Together, Pepper and Lovey will discover that no matter how vast space is, two people can fill it together.
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet introduced readers to the incredible world of Rosemary Harper, a young woman with a restless soul and secrets to keep. When she joined the crew of the Wayfarer, an intergalactic ship, she got more than she bargained for - and learned to live with, and love, her rag-tag collection of crewmates.
A Closed and Common Orbit is the stand-alone sequel to Becky Chambers' beloved debut novel The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet and is perfect for fans of Firefly, Joss Whedon, Mass Effect and Star Wars.

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers is more of an emotional journey rather than the space adventure we had in the first book. This book can easily work as a stand alone, even though both of the two main characters are also from Long Way to a Small Angry Planet.

Lovelace used to be a ship’s AI, and if you read Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, you know she has some very humanizing characteristics. In this book, she is adjusting to life outside the ship, in a body of her own. She is transitioning to being an individual, and though she has had her memory wiped and does not remember time before, she inherently relates to being an AI versus being a human. Since the “kit” (a very realistic synthetic body) she was downloaded to is highly illegal, it is incredibly important she pass for human. Funnily enough, one of the things that makes this harder is she was programmed to never lie. So, living a charade without technically telling a lie, it’s not easy.

She befriends Pepper, the engineer whiz from Book 1 that downloaded her consciousness  to her new body (not that she remembers this). The book also has flashback chapters explaining who Pepper is and her history. While Pepper is human, we learn in her early life she was controlled and treated more like cattle. She grew up in an environment where clones were developed and trained to do specific tasks and those tasks were their sole reason for existence. She knew nothing else, she did not even know there was an world outside of what she knew.

The two journeys, the flashback stories of Pepper intertwined with Lovelace’s adjustment to her new life have very strong parallels. Their experiences of learning to trust and enjoy others, and how to survive in a human world are quite interesting and touching.

I would definitely recommend this one. It may not have had the same level of fun excitement that the first book did, but that is because it was just such a different book. The focus on these two characters and their lives was very enjoyable, and also gave us a few more glimpses into the world Chambers has crafted.

11 thoughts on “Review: A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers”

  1. Great review, Lisa – yes… you highlighted the fact that they are such very different books. To be honest, that really impressed me and had me enjoying it even more. Although I loved the first one – hats off to Becky Chambers for resisting the temptation to produce more of the same…

    1. yes, definitely impressive to have two completely types of books like that. People just need to know going in because if you want a space adventure, you’re not going to get that here. Though what you do get is still great, just different.

  2. I definitely preferred the emotional journey here to the space faring adventure in book one. A tighter focus on few characters helped a lot, and both of them were so great to follow!

  3. I really enjoyed this, and both of these books together are probably some of my favorite science fiction I’ve read lately. I liked the first one a little more only because I became invested in Rosemary’s and Sissix’s stories as well, and Kizzy too, but this was a fabulous read and I think there’s a third one coming- I can’t wait to se what she does next.

  4. I read and enjoyed your review of this whilst I was away but I couldn’t leave a comment – pesky phone.
    I really enjoyed this one and it’s so unusual that it’s so completely different in style. I really look forward to seeing what this author comes up with nxt.
    Lynn 😀

  5. I didn’t like this one as much, but Becky Chambers is Becky Chambers. I felt like I didn’t really like Sidra’s character, that’s probably why. Waiting for the third book? 🙂

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