Becky Chambers with another phenomenal story within the Wayfarer series universe. Having read the other three books in the series, I’ve become accustomed to her way of writing and how she’s able to make you feel so many emotions through the characters and the world. I’m pretty sad that this might be the final book in the series.
This time around the story takes place on the plain old planet of Gora. Gora isn’t a place people go to sightsee or stay for long. In fact, it’s merely a layover for travellers headed elsewhere. Gora is located in a region in space that makes it convenient for individuals to travel through space. The first place you’ll be like to visit on the planet is The Five-Hop which is run by owner Ouloo and her teenage son Tupo. Their main goal is to provide all the different types of species with a superb and memorable experience. However, things go awry for the three latest travellers to the planet due to a malfunction with the satellites in space. This causes debris and fog to appear everywhere in the sky preventing them from leaving. They must therefore wait it out until they finally get the all clear to set off again.
The novel consists of three main travellers. Firstly we have Pei who was a supporting character in one of the previous books in the series. This time around she takes centre stage. Pei has taken some time off work to visit her lover, Ashby(from The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet). We then have Speaker whose kin has been left on their ship in orbit. Speaker is worried about her sister as before leaving their ship, her sister was having lung issues. Finally we have Roveg, an artist and exile on his way to his home planet for the first time in a very long time.
When it comes to characters and character development I truly feel Becky Chambers is the GOAT. She is amazing at creating characters with so much depth and personalities. Rather than usual inter galactic battles, The Galaxy and the Ground Within is much more calm and focuses on the relationships the characters have with one another. My favourite character was definitely Pei the girlfriend of Ashby. She had a minor role in The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. I loved how she discusses her relationship with Ashby and the way she feels about him. Her character also highlights the issue her being Aeluon and her relationship with Ashby who is a human. It is taboo for the Aeluon race to form interspecies relationships.
“They saw each other rarely – usually only a few days snatched here and there within the bulk of a standard year when she was with him, everything made sense. There was to work, no danger, no complications.”
I also really enjoyed conversations characters have with each other are often profound opening doors that allow you to really understand them, their relationships with family and friends, and their distinct personalities. I also thought Becky Chambers does incredibly well in exploring gender pronouns by using “Xe” and “xyr” for the character of Tupo. Throughout her series Chambers has masterfully covered the sexuality of her characters and the inner conflicts/issues characters have faced as a result of this. What I must also add is that none of the characters in this book are human! But you can easily picture the characters through Chambers vivid descriptions.
In terms of the writing, man there are so many memorable conversations the characters have with each other. My favourite was when the characters were discussing how humans eat cheese. This was absolutely hilarious because they couldn’t get their head around the fact that humans eat it. Once I started reading the book I just couldn’t put it down and that’s what Becky Chambers does best. Through her writing you become absorbed by her books instantly.
Overall, The Galaxy and the Ground Within is a captivating story about a group of people coming together and in turn learning about each others flaws, their differences and similarities, and vulnerabilities. I’m pretty sad this is may be the final book in the Wayfarer series. Like many books in the series, Chambers has a wonderful way with words and incorporating wholesome and emotional moments in her novels. Unsurprisingly she doesn’t miss a beat with The Galaxy and the Ground Within.
Thank you so much to Harper Voyager and Julie for sending me a copy! I’m so grateful for the opportunity to read this wonderful novel.