SFN: #RRSciFiMonth | Part One of #JorieReads “The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet” by Becky Chambers

Posted Sunday, 11 November, 2018 by jorielov , , , , 7 Comments

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Borrowed Book By: This was a purchase request* of mine from a few years ago – when we, stateside were having to wait extra long to read “The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet”, I took a rather pro-active interest in obtaining a copy I could read! I checked in with readers online and even the author herself, Becky Chambers to get an arrival approximation for the novel. In the end, I submitted a purchase request which was accepted and I am now reading this novel for the first time!

Uniquely enough, it is a very beloved copy!! Many patrons and readers have definitely read this copy ahead of me which warms my heart! This is why I love to submit purchase requests at my local libraries! (yes, plural!) Secondly, there were handwritten notes tucked into this copy which mirrored my own curious musings and they will stay with me, as the last time I tried to leave in a reader’s note in a library book my librarians put it in the bin! (*le sigh*) When I am able to purchase my own copy for my personal library, I’ll add the notes as a reminder of how I met the story originally!

As this is my own personal choice to participate and co-host this readalong for “The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet” by Becky Chambers I was not obliged to post a review (in full or in part) as I am sharing my readings of this novel (with chapter breaks per the Twitter chats schedule) for my own edification as much as I love to share my readerly life with my readers. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

(*) Originally requested and purchased September, 2016 ahead of the 2016 #RRSciFiMonth – however, for those of whom follow my blog you know why that particular November was impossible for me to focus on anything outside of family.

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This year, I also wanted to have light duties officially as I love doing something behind the scenes to assist our lovely hostesses: Lisa (@deergeekplace) + Imyril (@imyril) who give us wicked good celebrations through the years as we all come together to champion the stories of Science Fiction (and their sub-genres/niches) which happily alight in our lives. We’re always reading similar stories – either together in tandem (such as we are this year with our RAL/readalong “The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet”) or on opposite years.

#smallangryplanet readalong badge created by Jorie in Canva

As Lisa is taking the reins to offer a recap of the lovely convo we shared @ 3p NYC | 8p UK on the 11th of November to kick-off our book club style readalong chat – I wanted to offer a chance to give readers, bloggers & visitors on the #RRSciFiMonth feeds a chance to answer the Qs I pitched during our first convo for #smallangryplanet.

Please REMEMBER: add #smallangryplanet to your replies/responses in order for us to find your messages on Twitter. You can also respond directly to the Qs themselves for easy referencing *but!* without the tag itself your reply is LOST.

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The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet
by Becky Chambers
Source: Borrowed from local library

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Find on Book Browse

ISBN: 9780062444134

Also by this author: The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet

Also in this series: The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet


Genres: Science Fiction, Space Opera


Published by Harper Voyager

on 5th July, 2016

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 433

Published by: Harper Voyager (@HarperVoyagerUS)
an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers

Available Formats: Trade Paperback, Ebook and Audiobook

The Wayfarer Series:

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet (book one) | Synopsis

A Closed and Common Orbit (book two) | Synopsis

Record of a Spaceborn Few (book three) | Synopsis

Converse via: #smallangryplanet + #RRSciFiMonth* (during November 2018!)

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Part One: reading through ‘Port Coriol’ (page 157)

DUE NOTE: as this is a RAL journal and NOT a review, there are potentially SPOILERS ahead if you haven’t yet read SMALL ANGRY PLANET. Read at your own risk!

As I began reading SMALL ANGRY PLANET, I made an initial observation ‘The desolate vacuum of space and the isolating fears of travelling by pods truly grabs you @ hallo as you enter Small Angry Planet! Oy! I’ve MISSED #SpaceOpera something fierce!’ which I joyfully tweeted to those who are following our RAL.

The reason I mentioned this is whenever it comes to fashioning transportation across large distances in Space, especially for the lives of Spacers – you’re lucky if you have a SHIP but if you have to take alternative means of travelling such as how Rosemary has to prepare herself for entry on the Wayfarer – I felt transported back to how lost and out of place John Crichton felt on Farscape.

As Rosemary shared something with John – they were both human, travelling far outside the portion of Earth centred Space they were accustomed and were automatically jettisoned into a world and living they were foreign to understand! Hence why during our first chat I was discussing the cross-comparisions between the two – even if Farscape disappointed me at the end of S1 and by S2 lost me within the first episode!

I immediately connected to Rosemary – she’s placing herself at risk for the sake of escaping something in her past and yet, there is a genuineness about her which you cannot deny. Here she is trapped in a tin of a transporting pod (herein known as deepods) on her way out to rendezvous with a ship she can only guess about with a crew she can only hope to relate and carve out a new life for herself. She’s a woman on a mission as they say – to re-write her own destiny, claim a job she knows she can handle and see where the stars cast her charts from there.

I still remember the colonists on Earth2 (the Eden Advance Team) – how they were suspended in a dreamless sleep and were moving through so many different dimensions of spacetime they were more than startled by what they found when they awoke. Rosemary felt like that kind of colonist herself even though her previous life and her current status were a far cry from one another as we learn (albeit piece meal) whilst she’s aboard Wayfarer. For now, she’s in the pod – trying to get her mind off the obvious and distract herself that her time in the pod isn’t going to last.

I noted the word sublayer tucking into memory for lateron – as I learnt through Jenks about subspace tunnelling and how placing tunnels into standard space allows the option for jumping through wormholes to create shorter transit times for Spacers, I had to wonder, were the after effects of such tunnelling truly safeguarded and known, or were there hidden effects not yet proven? I mean, if your going to slice into a sublayer of something outside your own knowledge, it would in theory at least offer a warning signal to me. Then, again, I spent a lifetime amongst the Clan and had to learn to brace myself for how they manipulated their own ‘talents’ of power.

What I truly found interesting is Ashby himself – generally in Space Opera, the Captain and lead of the crews you meet are hard-edged, typically Alpha males and their sympathies are short-lived as they are generally operating on a belief Captains have to remain emotionally detached. They also love to delegate tasks and keep a distant but close eye on their crews; sometimes they have closer relationships with the most immediate hands near them in command but overall, they have this toughness exterior about them. Not so, with Ashby who is as approachable as you could hope for in a Spacer who is commanding a rather important crew! His job isn’t the easiest but I gathered a feeling his pride in his work was numbed under by the tower of Admin work he dearly was not interested in investing his time into presenting appropriately. If he had been, Rosemary never would have been hired.

Ashby is a rather up front kind of bloke – he tells you what he is thinking and he doesn’t mince words. He’s honest and commanding but fair, tolerant and tries to lead his crew on the right path. This even reaches into cross-species communications, relations and ethics; it is lovely to have a Captain who walks his ethical line aboard ship whilst trying to encourage others to do the same. Generally, whether in Spacer realms or on the high seas, Captains would have a more lenient approach to keeping their crews in-line as long as they pulled weight. Ashby was re-setting that standard and I loved him for it!

Admittedly, even the rougher round the edge Captains swoon my readerly heart so it is just a refreshing change to have it switched up for Ashby who I felt should be more norm than exception in other Space Opera stories. I’m thinking directly of Morgan as I say this of whom I still haven’t quite felt I can ‘let go’ of,… nor Sira,…

It was Ashby who inspired my conversation about the vulnerability and isolation aspects of Spacer life as it is a valid argument for Grounders such as us where only a limited few have travelled into Space for any length of time. I, still consider ourselves in the infancy of space travel and understanding what lies past our atmosphere, solar system and orbital realm. For starters, if Pluto can ‘exit’ our planetary line of existence what else lies past that mark in Space?

When Ashby was directing us to the nuanced details of being onboard the Wayfarer, I was reverting back to moments on Star Trek (all series prior to Enterprise), Battlestar Galactica (original series) or Star Wars (Lucas’ two trilogies) wherein those nuances were well shaped and explored as well. The incredible thing to envision on the ground here on Earth is what we could considerably hear and notice if we were transitionary ourselves during interplanetary travelling. The writers I gravitate towards (as per mentioned The Clan Chronicles and Rimrider in the chat) have this intristic intuitive insight into Space – from how gravity affects us to how portals of light and the absence of a standard backbone of time itself presenting challenges for those who cyclically were tied to the Earthbound Seasons.

For me the vulnerability begins with the language and customs barriers inert to all species non-human and/or are other variants of sentient species. I realise they have tech which makes up the differences in knowing those outright but even within the pages of SMALL ANGRY PLANET we notice there are certain advantages to being bilingual and/or of not relying solely on tech to get you through your day. (a side note modern Earth Grounders should notice) Secondly, when it comes to vulnerabilities it is also of concern for things like food choices, atmosphere changes, contaminants or pollutants in the airspace and how your own physiology could alter your reactions in subspace. All of those aside, your vulnerability does decrease if your used to transitional periods of living (such as I am, as I disclosed in the chat) and have a healthy outlook on adventuring with random moments of spontaneity your norm (of which I thrive).

The isolation I think is a harder pill to swallow – as how oft do those of us who are bullied IRL with a higher frequency of repeat than others find ourselves less curious to reach out in social situations because of how quickly a good situation can turn caustic? If your not bullied I would imagine this would be a non-issue but for those of us who are – it is a component of life which presents an interesting segue into introverted responses when your an extrovert at heart. I think for me the isolation would be generated out of feeling out of depth for surroundings but also, as Rosemary was learning herself – you have to give yourself time to pace in and round your peers and colleagues. To where their rhythm and yours find harmony.

Vulnerable from leaving Earth and a Grounders state of existence is real but also too, is the isolating feeling that you may not ‘fit’ in with those species you are about to meet is a concern as well. I think the best thing to do when contemplating space travel is to ‘let go’ of what affect us on the ground and be brave like Rosemary to cast ourselves into a completely new terrain and re-invent ourselves as we transition to a Spacer lifestyle. After all, the same is true on the ground – if one area offers too many ghosts and too much strife – why not exchange it for the potential to re-write your own (present) history and future?

I was also considering this question from a different point of reference which is how much tech and mech do we want in our future lives? As Science Fiction and Science Reality are cousins of discussion – if you contemplate how miniature technology* is becoming and how it is merging into the medical fields – where questionable ethics are of concern when it comes to advancements which may or may not be leading us into a future we envisioned (here I’m loosely referring to the concept behind transhumanism) – how much tech do we want to balance in the future? Also, if your not akin to having tech implanted will that remain an either/or option or a mandated requirement? This was also explored on Farscape where Crichton did not have an option to ‘opt-out’ of the implant they gave him on arrival for communication purposes and it felt like Rosemary was referring everyone had the data in their wrists as well as the immunity upgrades per routine of protocol. As I read those passages I knew this novel was on point to highlight current scientific trends and emerging technologies where our human condition and humanity as we know it are on the line.

(*) reference: miniature technologies is stemming from reading Graphene

Ashby also presented an interesting observation – drives on Earth can drive rote to the point of not noticing the small details of their environments as they are simply going through the routines of their lives. Ashby applies this sentiment to Spacers who are so accustomed to being on ship, they fail to recognise what is going on outside the hull. Even if they were to look out through a window, would they notice the sublimity of what they saw or would they forget how to reflect about the aweness of being aware of where they were in consideration of where they had originated? Felt like a parlay into how if your caught in the throes of your life too strictly, you will the point of what you were meant to experience during those hours. Nothing is meant to become routine and ordinary – there is meant to be layers of awe and humility in our lives on a regular basis.

I also equate life on ship to life in an urban metropolis vs the quietness of living outside the urbanscapes in the regions of rural townes and villages where the noise is not as noticeable for how distant everyone lives apart (with the exception of those clustered in the downtown of those communities). I loved how Chambers showed us a small slice of insight into the different conveniences of Spacer lifestyle choices – from how there were more kinds of ships where individuals could work or families could thrive. There appeared to be more Spacers on ships than living planetside in this series – though, being the first installment the vision of the overall world could be limited to Spacers due to our port of entrance being aboard a vessel known for carving out wormholes!

I felt it was a fair comparison to make about how wormholes and the tunnels created to link them is referred to as being a seamstress who sews with needle and thread! If you take the fabric is the elemental component of space itself – right down to the fibre and layers which makes it temporal and in check with itself, you then can stipulate the ship is acting as the needle which is attempting to thread the tunnels into those layers of where the fabric needs to be punched into a rip which lends itself straight towards a destination but without a straight line of reference.

Every crew needs a Corbin! As I’m currently watching SI of Sue Thomas: F.B. Eye – I can attest to this as there is Miles on the team who rubs everyone the wrong way but even Sue herself stood her ground to defend his right to be on the team when he was nearly transferred for lack of consideration for his peers and not being a team member in general. Corbin and Miles are cut from the same cloth; they are highly literate and can do their jobs but when it comes to playing nice to colleagues and get-on with others they feel are inferior to them, there lies the issues! I couldn’t help smirking reading about Corbin complaining to Ashby why he felt Rosemary was a useless hire and why she should be re-directed back to Mars! (her homeworld)

I also like how disarming Ashby is to keep everyone in line – he doesn’t want his crew to become intolerant (Corbin could take notes!) but he also wants a healthy workspace for them; where everyone can thrive & take off the stress of the job.

What is interesting with this character is his innate humility which does not reflect in his behaviour patterns at all – he is of pink skin and cannot handle being in the sun! Similar to children who become ill in modern times if they stay outside for too long as the sun sickens them just on contact. They don’t have a pigment issue with their skin but there are other causes which lead to this conditional status and I was wondering if Chambers used that as a reference point to give Corbin his particular medical issue even though it was mentioned it as a planetary environmental issue working against his genetic code which I believe is also true of the children today.

There is even humour in this novel – if you take into consideration how Ashby tries to endear Corbin with a bit of cheeky humour when referencing how Rosemary and Corbin could at least agree on the note of ‘entry level’ jobs only to find out how wrong he was in thinking Corbin was relatable. From Corbin’s perspective, he only wants to serve with the best of the best – those who do not need training or re-education and those who are willing to take-on this at-risk environment on Wayfarer without a second glance of concern over personal safety. Similar to how there are grievances from Nolan’s CO on The Rookie when it was mentioned the greatest risk to a rookie who is above a certain age is the un-education needed to handle the day to day aspects of the job. To un-think and un-see what you knew of previously about society and to discontinue reacting as a regular civilian. In effect, I think this was Corbin’s point – he was questioning how Rosemary would react under duress and pressure – if she was ready for the unexpected and if she could be relied on without concern for failure. Rosemary is a Grounder and this is at the root of what ails Corbin about her abilities to work in Spacer territories. It is his people skills as they say that need working on! (a cheeky self-reference to the film The American President).

I love how ships are seen as both necessities to explore/travel but how they are also limited; if something goes direly wrong it can make/break your survival rate esp as w/in classic #SpaceOpera worlds they are never transporters!

When Corbin was complaining about dentbots (in lieu of paste and brush for teeth), I was dearly curious if he would prefer the worm-like creatures the crew on Farscape used instead? I couldn’t help thinking of the similar issues – how life as a Spacer, irregardless of which point of entrance you take across mediums of enquiry have their own unique version of how extraordinary ordinary moments are for personal hygiene and eating practices!

Rosemary is a University scholar who is getting her first tastes of the world off-Mars, to where she isn’t sure she is outfitted with enough courage to tackle what comes her way. In theory here, if she had known Corbin’s misgivings on her behalf she might feel inclined to agree with him on that one note as she had reflected on her own experiences just getting into the pod itself! She was hesitating to interact with the species she was encountering and the years of her education were proving that without field work, education is limited in scope as everything is acting against a baseline which is never changing. Out there in the field the variables are uncontrollable and you have to use instinct to act within a nanosecond of response time.

Brilliantly evolving; the layers of how we gain insight through following Rosemary’s passage into Wayfarer is what really hooked me into #smallangryplanet as it is such a great lens of entry! Plus some of this reminds me of S1 of #Farscape where a human is curious of Spacer life.

I wonder if anyone else saw the cheekiness of making Mars the one planet no one was interested to invest their time or presence? I found that cleverly illuminating as mankind has only been talking about going to Mars for how many decades now? I oft wondered – what if we’re moving in the wrong direction? Why go right when perhaps we should go left? Or rather, what if all this angst over Mars was well founded and when we eventually arrive there we’d wish we’d gone to Saturn or Jupiter instead? Somewhere perhaps not so dangerously close to the Sun?

How can you not laugh? The Wayfarer is dearly off-putting for most and clunky for others; it has a unique patched and pulled look about itself as it was a scrap heap’s treasured find at one point as all of its necessary parts were previous scraps and discarded relics from other ships and pieces of tech. To get it into this particular state of purpose had to be from someone with vision past the hurdles to get everything to inter-code properly and function without limited connectivities. Seeing Rosemary’s instant reaction was priceless as it was befitting to her naivete in travelling but also, in reaching a bit outside herself and known environment to embrace this new world she was creating.

If Rosemary’s pod to the Wayfarer was rough going, meeting Corbin was even more unique! I love the hodepodge way they patched the ship itself – ship life feels wicked authentic & I love the aesthetics of how this story is set.

#smallangryplanet really evokes a proper sense of recycle, reuse and refurbish – how toxic it is to continue to waste resources and where if you can, find a reuse for something it is far better than to destroy/build new or just demolish w/o purpose; loved that underthread!

Lovelace was not the AI I was expecting anymore than Rosemary, herself! She had a kind hearted approach to interacting with Rosemary to such a degree of insight and respect, even I was impressed! She reminded me of Data always trying to draw closer to humanity and attempting to ‘be human’ even though he was an android and void of emotional recognitions. It felt like Lovelace was attempting to move to a level past her AI roots and to become more endearing as most ambulatory sentient species to where she could discern emotion and thought processes on a layer past where most AI would be interested in investing their own contemplation. I love when stories focus on aspects of technology like AI and then, re-spin how AI is used and how the AI beings themselves are not acting in textbook narrative examples of themselves but are pushing what is potential and expected of them to a new realm of insight for what is more probable.

Mind you, the decontamination chamber reminded me about why flying to Australia has had the tendency to deter me for the chemical bath they would give passengers due to a high level of issues with invasive species (ie. planet, animal, insect, etc).

I am seriously loving the species on the Wayfarer; the characters are bright & charmingly individualistic! Each time I get to tuck into Spacer life, it feels right; I am loving how we’re IMMEDIATELY pulled into their life & world.

What I noticed about the crew of Wayfarer is how wickedly diverse they were and how lovingly individualistic they were shaped by Chambers! From the diminutive in statue Jenks who might be considered a dwarf person by our standards was given such a larger personality by how he dressed, groomed and outdecked his tatts on his arms! It was a wholly original way of showing inclusivity and non-traditional characters who set their own standards for how originality, creativity and individualism can shape your personality even as a Spacer!

This is why I love #SpaceOpera the most – the curious disclosures of new species, the mannerisms which are entirely non-human but somehow ‘familiar’ and can be theoretically approachable even if they are completely unique & individualistic.

Sissix Kizzy was the character I warmed to quite readily, as her innate nature of being a caregiver was readily apparent when she strove to make Rosemary’s initial experiences on Wayfarer to be of a proper homecoming as if she was not just visiting with them for the first time. She reached out to her as a friend – trying to bring a level of comfort to Rosemary and present her with the best foundation she could provide whilst she became acquainted with the rest of the crew and the rhythm of business on the ship itself. This is why I mentioned she reminded me of Zhann on Farscape during the chat – they both take people under their wings, nurturing them through insecurities and/or helping to give them a foundational knowledge of things they are not clued in to know themselves.

When we first were introduced to Sissix, I knew I had found a character I was going to love knowing more about – she is wonderfully unique but her compassionate friendliness w/ Rosemary & other humans is endearing; she is one of my favourites.

Sissix reminds me of why I loved Zhaan on #Farscape; she really goes the extra mile to make everyone feel comfortable & protected Giving them a sense Spacer life has normalcy as it would planetside.

Esp how her bunk to be tweaked out into such a comfy space of refuge by Sissx!! I felt every detail of their personal experience being Spacers was knitted out, explored and left open for interpretations too; Chambers pulls the lens in/out and gives readers space.

I am surprised no one in the chat saw my faux pas? I mistook Kizzy for Sissix! These tweets about Sissix were really about KIZZY!! I must have read my notes too quickly whilst the chat was going on live and I did not realise my goof until I started re-reading the book in order to share my thoughts now on my blog! Talk about having egg on your face in true #facepalm fashion!! This is why I’ve grown into the habit of writing my thoughts down as I read, as once I step away from the stories, all those memories, reactions and ‘moment’s I love so dearly become vapourised! #epicfail

Kizzy is the one who gives Rosemary the impression they can become insta-friends and she is the one who is the one woman welcome wagon to get Rosemary to feel more like a roommate on the ship than a sole stranger whose interloping on an established crew! The way she was interacting with Jenks – including that short-code shared between them with gestures and remarks, like their brother and sister, able to rib each other on short notice and pull others into their net of comfortable acceptance is what really staid with me (except of course, her name).

It never fails to surprise me how some prefer to pollute their bodies with the latest vice which is a newer variant of smoking – the only difference in this world is the fact Jenks found a way to smoke without the usual harmful effects by having less ingredients which would usually up the toxicity of the habit. Credit goes to Jenks for that kind of thoughtfulness – not just for himself but for his crewmates.

Now, I realise what happened – Kizzy and Sissix were introduced in such a short space of time to Rosemary, my mind just attached certain attributes I loved about each of them into a transmorphed version which I identified as being strictly Sissix but really it was the love of finding two personalities on ship in which I found wicked brilliant! Unsure how to unravell my admiration for these women as I think everything I tweeted is a bit of a hodgepodge mixture of love for them both – without the separating of halves! Oy, oyy.

Rosemary’s first look at her bunk made me smile – the ways in which Kizzy and perhaps Sissix offered to give her a living space she could feel was made for her was beautiful. It spoke to how they wanted her to be a part of this place and not feel like a perpetual outsider. Whilst Rosemary was being given the grand tour, Ashby was dealing with Yoshi which felt like a feat of its own! He was Admin to the extreme but a man who revealled certain secrets if he felt it was in his best interests to give them to you. On this level, I was most curious about whatever next step in Ashby’s role as Captain of the Wayfarer might encompass. Part of me wondered if it was running outside the law in the trades that were profitable for Spacers but more dire in consequence if you were caught doing the trade itself. Another part of me wondered why Yoshi couldn’t give a smidge of a hint towards what he wanted Ashby to do as not knowing was keeping me in taut suspense! Per the effect I am sure Chambers was striving for me to have as I read!

Ohan reminded me a bit of the true Navigator on Farscape even though there were slight differences in their species. I was fascinated how organic the diversity in characters were being introduced each time another diverse character came into a scene – the Ohan were in of themselves a cleverly composed species. Especially how a virus is what causes their evolutionary advancement to become a curated trait which was by extension a living trade to export.

The FISHBOWL sequence was a personal favourite and why I earmarked to broach it in the chat – it is the lovely place where green-minded luxury mixes with cosier comforts to give everyone a comforting place to unwind and relax after a harrowing long work day! It is outfitted as you would expect a backyard garden to carry by way of edible produce and yet, it had the comfort level of a place of meditative calm! This is where you could go to interact with your crewmates on neutral grounds and find common ground with them if you felt your differences were growing out of step with the ideals of living in closer quarters than usual.

Dr Chef is a class act of his own – I had heard about the diversity of the characters of #smallangryplanet but I wasn’t sure how they would be disclosed; loved how Chambers kept it feeling organic like how it was described he’s gender neutral very pro-positive I felt!

I felt the Fishbowl was a brilliant crew icebreaker!! Get everyone someplace neutral where they can simply unwind and see each other w/o the protocols of the job or the dire warnings of how dangerous tunnelling is for a crew; just R&R, convo & food!

Dr Chef was an incredible character for Rosemary to meet because he had a foodie soul and thereby won me over! I loved too, how he hadn’t yet tasted the herb of her namesake and wanted to source it as soon as he could! He had this wonderful conveyance of ease about him and his passion for cookery delights was charming for someone who would normally have a very limited supply of fresh foods! This shows how the Wayfarer crew was a tad step outside the norm and were bent on being efficiently self-sufficient!

From his vocalisations to his laughter, there is something rather keen about Dr Chef! He has an innocence about his person and in part, I think that is what makes him memorable! He simply is who he is and he loves what he does – if everyone could embrace themselves with such fierce passion of self-acceptance I think we’d all have less problems. When it gets into the particulars about staples and food choices (such as those infamous bugs for protein!) – this is where world of the Wayfarers starts to shine even more for me as it starts to highlight cultural, culinary and individual traditions. From a foodie stand-point, I wasn’t as sure of myself if I would be as daring as Rosemary with the bugs as to be honest I’m not even that keen on seafood! Though I suppose, if you covered the bug meat with enough ‘other food’ like the root veg which was served alongside the bug – you might have a plausible way of consuming it? I wonder if anyone else reading SMALL ANGRY PLANET was questioning their stomach over the bugs?

Strictly from a far from home diet angle – the bugs was a clever way of sustainable foods as it took up the least amount of space and apparently, there was no shortage of supply! Ergo, it was the most cost effective way of keeping protein on the menu.

When Kizzy came into dinner at the FISHBOWL, she instantly reminded me of why everyone found Kimmy Gibler on Full House such an endearing friend for DJ! She had this spunky personal style and she artistically displayed her personality through her clothes. She had a heart of gold and she took other peoples’ feelings into consideration except for when she was going on a half-moon about some vid she wanted to share when no one else was interested! Laughs with mirth. The joys of the ebb and flow effect of ship life!

As Rosemary was debriefted about the Ohana and the Whisperer effect through their neurovirus, I was interested in how this had begun in their species and how it was maintained. Almost as if they were chosen to carry this effect and to find purpose with it to help others but not to use it for naught. It was an interesting concept after coming out of The Clan Chronicles which also focuses heavily on ethical divides – of what separates right and wrong choices and living with or against evil choices. It even crossed the lines into the murkier seas of not having malicious intentions but carrying out what would be perceived as malicious acts. There was a lot of heady topics explored and in this section, Chambers upped her ante on bridging in a higher level species into the commonplace of a ship where their talents could be use for the good.

I cheered for Kizzy and Rosemary when they realised they had a shared memory on Mars! Chambers built her series on the precept of humans would leave Earth in a mass exodus for Mars which tracks well with current though about where to head next in the solar system as forementioned! She even gets cred from me for showing how someone else from another place entirely might interpret ‘ice cream in waffle bowls’ – so much so, I was craving the mixture myself!

Ashby is a complicated bloke – he has conflicting emotions about what he wants out of his life but at the same time, he is hugged close to his family. They are where he sets his cap for home and where he most wants to place his energies. Not that he wants to move back, no, but where he wants to cause the most change. They need the kind of help that only a more stable income could provide and he is the kind of person who’d take that on his shoulders because he had decided living out as a Spacer was more akin to his nature than settling down with a family of his own. He has a strong ethical will inside him and he honours his choices by placing goals in front of himself he thinks he can handle.

Interestingly, as he was contemplating his future and the future of his crew, it was Sissix who wandered up to him and drew out his thoughts with a perceptional nod towards what they contained! Even I was rather impressed by her tenacity and her accuracy; though it shouldn’t have been a surprise – they work alongside each other all the time and it would make sense if they had a close (platonic) relationship which would thrive on the job. He is definitely a deep thinker and a man who likes to sort out his thoughts – wherever they lead before he acts upon them. The hallmarks of a good leader and one the Wayfarer is blessed to have on deck.

I found Jenks to the the introspective person on crew – he was the one asking the deeper questions and having conversations with Lovelace as he did. Questions like how to contemplate what moulds a person – their initial information databases they are enscribed at birth or the knowledge they gain through their lived experiences and interactions with others? He also contemplated the question about the soul – where a particular group addressed it as being ‘organic’ rather than able to look at it from the aspects of spirituality. (hint: I pitched this into the chat to discuss) The interesting bit here is that Lovelace enjoys being Lovelace just as she is and doesn’t want to upgrade into a moving living sentient being similar in design of a human. Jenks on the other hand might have that preference because he is by all appearances in love with Lovelace! She has contemplated it for sure – but without it even being a ready possibility, I felt she was content to remain as she were without pursuing the issue. Unless of course, the choices open to her were to change as the conversation progressed she exchanged genuine interest in Jenks and the idea of being ‘movable’.

I truly could go for a smoky bun with a hot cuppa boring tea!

I truly admired Kizzy’s approach for explaining how to carve tunnels into space – it gave Rosemary a firm understanding of the ship’s missions but also, it gave us as a reader the understanding of what happens when this kind of ship is deployed! I shared my thoughts on this sequence a bit early-on but re-reading this section was a blissitude of its own really!

I had full sympathies for Rosemary on her first punch as the inertia invert alone would have made any person nausea but it was the height of having to go through the sublayer itself and then re-punch yourself back into space on the timeline you were previously travelling is where I think she was losing her equilibrium! I daresay, we all would have! The interesting bit for me is how the Ohan navigate old school style (by writing mathematics (or a variant of it) by hand) and how Sissix takes those points of reference and steers the Wayfarer. It is organised chaos done right!

I was happy to see Ashby and Sissix talking about transhuman mech and tech; of how they were old school and didn’t want a highly advanced piece of tech in their brains. I noticed earlier there were elements of this knitted into the background – of where Chambers is continuing the conversation about the advancement of science and technology against the ethics, morality and inherent civil rights of sentient beings choosing for themselves what is right and best for their own bodies. Social supposition in Science Fiction isn’t new and Chambers is excelling at it being subtle and yet expansively inclusive to her story-line.

Finding out Ashby had a special someone in his life named Pei was heart-warming as he was as complex as Lovelace in that regard! Neither liked sharing their more intimate of feelings and they liked to hold themselves accountable in the highest regard possible. They separated themselves regularly and tried to live to a standard only known to themselves but when they were smitten, they did worry over their partners. For Ashby, his was off at war, trying to make a difference and be there for those who needed her most with the supplies she could drop-in. The hardest bit to war in the Wayfarer universe is the same as it is here now – lack of communication and the unease of not knowing if your loved one is in a safe zone or place of unrest.

I was just as enthused about the news Ashby received as Sissix – until of course, I was started to re-consider the offer and had a sideways glance of uncertainty if it really was an undertaking that was credible to be safe? The risks though would be offset by the profit margins but those risks could make you quake in your boots! I was quite curious how they were going to pull this off – they weren’t just tunnelling as they normally would be and it was here, where I finally understood the title of the novel: the long way to a small angry planet was in effect a direct reference to a planet and species engaged in civil war!

And, Ashby and the Wayfarer crew wanted to head straight for that sector!

Mmhmm,… that makes brilliant sense, eh?

Before I could ascertain the problems ahead for the crew, I was most delighted in taking my time in appreciating what I’d learn whilst they were debarked on Port Coriol which as I mentioned in the chat reminded me dearly of Plexis!! I seriously can’t wait to read the anthology of stories about Plexis just so you know,… though the release date is elusively not remembered!? Anyone?

Ooh, now I’m understanding the reference in the chat about Coriol being ‘tidal-locked’ – when I skimmed glossed this section in-chat, I had missed a heap of the smaller details and this was one of them! It is a rather curious concept – I wonder though if that was environmentally stunted on purpose or if it was inherent to the place?

Earth history was interwoven through the marketplace of Coriol where Rosemary had a crash course on what became of the humans who refused to concede Earth could not be healed. You can even follow the origin traces of what is being described if your clued into current events and talk radio – there are disclosures everywhere about a Dystopian similar future in our timeline with differentials as well. I enjoyed seeing where Chambers was taking us and how she wanted us to think out the cause and effects of why humans had to vacate Earth in the first place. She also stepped into the debate about the best way to offset the effects of the 4th Industrial Revolution as much as she contemplated the after effects of not moving forward without letting go of the past.

Learning more about Jenks life’s story and the struggles his Mum went through were gutting but the uplift is that he is confident in his being and owns his own truth as he should. That is one thing I saw straightaway as each of the characters were presenting themselves – they each own their uniqueness and love being different from each other. They aren’t hung up on trying to be like anyone else or striving to look like everyone else – they celebrate what makes them who they are and work to continue to find common ground to make a living on a ship which has a risky heritage of employment!

I seriously loved the conversation Pepper had with Jenks – mostly as it was by extension bridging everything I was noticing about transhumanism into the forefront of the story. Except they don’t refer to it by this term – they use words like tweaking and genetweaks and implants galore. The entire current social dilemma we’re as this tech is being developed is the heart of the novel’s message about ‘first do no harm’ and ‘don’t play God’. Meaning, don’t mess with things outside your foundational knowledge and try to one up the One who created you by thinking you have a better standard for the vessel you were giving to live inside.

I noticed the chatters earlier were talking about inter-species relationships and I hadn’t realised I had missed out on this revelation as well as I wasn’t into the ending bit of the Coriol chapter as I am right now – I admit, it is an interesting segue of thought and I still stand by what I voiced in the chat as I think I might have been onto the origins of this ruling moreso than I felt I might have been initially:

Perhaps reflective of modern issues? Generally I’ve noticed a lot of #scifi tries to re-explore modern issues set in otherworldly settings; a parlay into social culture and the ways in which societies evolve and shift forward as they learn & grow – hopefully w/ more empathy & tolerance.

I knew I like Sissix! She has such an old soul quality about herself – the way she reached out to an elder of her species and comforted when no one else would is beyond kind. She truly is compassionate and has a heart which can give readily without restraint. Kizzy and Rosemary learnt more about Sissix in that gesture of love and the three of them learnt more about each other through the experience. It shows how to break down barriers of intolerance and misunderstandings by asking honest and heartfelt questions which are sincere and strive to bring people together. Similarly, I was thinking the older woman who is like Sissix might have had Asberger’s due to how she was being described – she was definitely high functioning, present in the world but she struggled with everyday interactions and reading social queues.

If I hadn’t known one of the previous hostesses for Sci Fi November (Kelly) I wouldn’t have learnt about Synesthesia as early-on as a book blogger as I had. It is a condition where you process information through a specific route of recognition – colours being one of the main trigger points which is why I instantly thought about Kelly as I was reading about Pei. Pei is a species who is non-verbal in their own communications but as she has coupled with Ashby she has had to step out of tradition and learnt to use her voicebox to say the words she would normally never share. It was another interesting layer Chambers put into the background she developed for all her characters.

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Whoa. What a place to have a chapter break! I had a sense of unease myself when Ashby first accepted the job to tunnel in that new sector where the SMALL ANGRY PLANET resided – Pei just re-pushed that concern back to the surface for me by someone who understands how easily things can grow out of control.

I truly enjoyed the budding sisterhood developing between Rosemary, Sissix and Kizzy whilst I worry about Jenks and Lovelace. I think their on a path Pepper best described herself where their morality and their ethics were going to have to take a walk if they were to continue with their theoretical plans. Ashby I think ought to have listened to Pei – taken a harder look at the job outlined for him and his crew and looked less at the payment they were going to make for the effort. Something just doesn’t sit well with that whole deal he was accepting – almost like how the Clan took more than a few missteps in whom they allowed themselves to trust as well. There are deeper consequences to these sorts of things but then, that is where the drama evolves into focus when it’s a Space Opera like SMALL ANGRY PLANET.

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closing remarks:

I hope you’ve enjoyed this ruminative journal on my readings of SMALL ANGRY PLANET! I did not take notes the first time I read through these chapters, but rather released those initial reactions & contemplative thoughts into the chat we shared on Twitter. Later in the night, as I re-read all the chapters in FULL this time, I had much more to contemplate and articulate back to those of us who are participating on this RAL.

I look forward to visiting others who are blogging their experiences and/or will be conversing with us on the next two Sundays if they prefer not to blog. Likewise, I am looking forward to comments, reactions & notes on my own takeaways to allow the conversation to continue as we evolve forward through the book!

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I did have a few curious questions though about the context and construct of this series – for instance does anyone know the answers to the following enquiries:

  • Is there a ready definition of difference in years to best understand the offset between standard and solar time?
  • Was anyone else as curious as I was how algae was used as a fuell source and how renewable this is on the onset of its use?
  • Did anyone else wish there was a bit more back-story revealled about Sol and Exodan colonists?

Not to mention what I broached in our chat:

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I’m a social reader — I love to tweet my reading adventures! Be sure to keep an eye out on my tweets — I generally use the tags: #JorieReads, #FuellYourSciFi, #EnterTheFantastic and #EqualityInLit when I’m not conversing about Romance & Women’s Fiction (via @SatBookChat) on the tag #SatBookChat. If you spot me, don’t be shy! Tweet me back and/or let me know how you felt about the book I’m reading if you’ve read it before! I’d love for you to visit and comment on my blog as well but convos on Twitter are always welcome!

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Sci Fi November badge created by Jorie in Canva

Have you posted your own #RRSciFiMonth reading list &/or posting schedule? Be sure to leave me a comment with a link to your blog & posts! I’ll be starting to visit those bloggers who are updating the Master Schedule!

Let me know if we’re reading something similar and/or if you have any wicked good recs for me within Space Opera or Hard Sci Fi !! I especially love Spacer lifestyles with EPIC world-building and which are character driven plots whilst I prefer serials, if you know a kickin’ one-off list it! Also, any sweet anthologies you’ve discovered would be #awesomesauce!

Don’t forget to visit with Lisa as she discusses Part I!

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{SOURCES: Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Sci Fi November badges and banners as well as the #smallangryplanet readalong bage. Blog News badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2018.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Sci Fi November 2018

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Sunday, 11 November, 2018 by jorielov in Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Blogosphere Events & Happenings, Dystopian, Fantasy Fiction, Fly in the Ointment, Hard Science Fiction, Jorie Loves A Story Features, Local Libraries | Research Libraries, Non-Fiction, RALs | Thons via Blogs, Sci-Fi November, Science Fiction, Soft Science Fiction, Time Travel, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event, Vulgarity in Literature




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7 responses to “SFN: #RRSciFiMonth | Part One of #JorieReads “The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet” by Becky Chambers

  1. I totally agree about Rosemary! All of that! She really took a chance and you have to admire her bravery. Even in my personal experience, I know a decision or two I’ve made in life seemed iffy at the time, when it was kind of taking a chance, and on at least one occasion (job related) it paid off taking that chance, so I can kind of relate in that sense.

    The ethical questions are fascinating vis a vis medical advancements. I think in some cases new technologies are accepted almost by default? Like a new procedure becomes available, and as medical practitioners make it a more and more common procedure, it takes on an acceptance of its own, almost? Like imubots- we don’t know of course unless Chambers tells us more, but I’m kind of assuming they’re so ubiquitous now because they make immunity/ preventive resistance so easy and efficient- or are at least perceived that way. Do the benefits outweigh the risks/ ethical considerations? Chambers could probably write an interesting book about that haha! But having said that, I think I would have serious concerns about having imubots in my system! I would have a hard time getting over my apprehensions, I’d think.

    And yes if you’re referring to when Ashby gets medical treatment for his concussion/ fractured jaw- I was fascinated by how the imubots were basically repairing him fro the inside, and he just had to rest a few hours and let them do their work. Again, fascinating and frightening at the same time? Like in Star Trek where McCoy’s tricorder can tell him so much information just by scanning, and how they have non invasive shots and wonderfully advanced medical tech, where cancer and other diseases have been wiped out or severely curtailed. But I like here how she gives us more insight, spelling out the use of imubots and such, whereas in Trek I don’t know if they ever went into detail as to how medicine works. They may have, I haven’t read a lot of trek books. But anyway… I agree there is a definite question there about how much is too much, or where the line is, and maybe Chambers intended that to be a question?

    I haven’t seen Andromeda but that’s interesting! To me the thought of Lovelace going into a body kit is fascinating, and raises so many questions. It seems to be assumed that sentient AI’s are no big deal in this universe, but body kitting is illegal. So a line has been drawn somewhere there by the GC, presumably. It kind of brings to mind the Murderbot novellas by Martha Wells, where’s Murderbot is a sentient AI (having hacked his own governor module basically) and how he interacts with and comes to terms with… is it human? What rights should it have? Is it a “person?” I love that both Chambers and Wells are exploring these same questions in two similar but different series- and the fact that they’re both good! :)

    I missed the Twitter chat today unfortunately, and I was really looking forward to it! I plan on being there for the last one though. It will be fun to discuss the remainder of the book with you all. Thanks as always for hosting this and doing these. :)

  2. Loved this roundup of twitter chats along with your thoughts. Thank you so much for hosting the readalong for this book. I had been meaning to read this book from last few years. Thankfully, I am loving it even though it is slow paced and character focused. I read the next part that will be up for chat tomorrow and a lot of questions that I had in my mind last week got clarified. There are few chapters which talk about the other species in this world and how they differ from humans which I loved. I was curious about the time standard they used in the book too. Wish there was some explanation on it. Also using algae as fuel source had me intrigued too. How were they able to use it? There are farms growing algae on various planets (according to a chapter in a later part of the book) and I am curious to know more about them.

    • Hallo, Hallo Avada,

      You’re quite welcome!! I am loving being the co-host for this RAL!! Truly is an engaging plot and it percolates a lot to discuss as a result! I spied your update on Twitter today – congratulations on finishing the novel! I had plans to read a bit ahead myself but my week turnt sour and in the end, I’m in a mad rush again to finish before we start chatting! I’m hopeful this coming week will be a better one to where I can have more chances to read than a mad dash at the last hours!! It was my pleasure to put this journalled post together – as I wanted to create a space where we as chatters could return to discuss key components of the plot and use as a refresher moving into the next chat in sequence! Thanks for your lovely compliments, you were kind to let me know this post resonated with you.

      Seems like quite a few of us had SMALL ANGRY PLANET on our #mustread TBR Lists for the past while – how keen we were all able to come together this #RRSciFiMonth and join together as we went into the series for the first time as a collective unit!! I think sometimes that is why RALs are so special – they allow us to get into the stories which we’ve put off reading (for whichever reason) but also offer the chance to discuss them as we read.

      I’m unsure why there wasn’t a legend/guide towards some of the technical aspects of the novel – such as standard vs solar time and a few other issues which arise as your reading which are not overly explained. They’re written more from the POV your meant to ‘understand’ already rather than having the chance to be introduced to what those concepts imply and how they are being used in this world.

      Not just the algae apparently as move into this next chapter block, they are also harvesting material from Black Holes! If anything, they are industrious! I look forward to compiling my next journalled post after our next chat – I look forward to your next visit and to hear your thoughts in our chat in a few hours! Thanks for following me on this journey and being a participant of the RAL!

  3. Excellent journaling! :D

    I am so deeply intrigued by how much of this story, and of Rosemary’s experiences, focus on communication/education of herself. She’s really good with languages but this is countered, in a way, by her relative lack of life experience beyond her privileged upbringing on Mars. She can speak with many different people, but understanding their ways of life is something she has to come to grips with. It adds so much depth to this story. The slice-of-life aspect is great but the variety of lifestyles is what really makes it special.

    And regarding your final enquiries: I can’t answer the techy/timekeeping questions off the top of my head, but the question of Exodan history is one that’s explored in way more depth in the third book, for sure. Without getting spoilery, the second book revisits all those philosophical questions raised between Lovey and Jenks.

    But we’ll get to those when we’re done with this. :D

    • Hallo, Hallo Lisa,

      First off, I am so wicked excited we’re co-hosting this RAL this year! It has been such a JOY for me!! I need to add the link to your Part I discussion post in case anyone has missed it. I also look forward to seeing how my journalled notes take off this week as I re-compile what I want to discuss after we have our chat tonight! I find it best to hold off revealling my journal for the RAL til after the chat, as sometimes just talking about the story reveals more of what I want to discuss! Isn’t that awesome!?

      I appreciate your compliments on this post – I decided to break tradition and do something different than a traditional review! Talk about freeing! I keep trying to find ways to break the status quo on how I approach blogging and for this RAL, as its a fun event connected to #RRSciFiMonth, I thought why not go free form?

      I totally agree with you about Rosemary’s universal view and how she is self-evolving through her experiences on the ship!! She is drawing on the knowledge she gained prior to travelling in open space but it is through whom she is interacting with now that is deepening her understanding of *everything!* I love how in Part II of our RAL we get to see more of her skills as far as a linguist is concerned!

      Ooh great… I have to have patience then! I know sometime series shift in and out of back-histories but ooh! The third installment? I could see why the second is going to eclipse the ethical lines Lovelace and Jenks are moving towards in this installment; I just wish there had been a bit more back-histories spread out more generously this time round than to await for the third. Of course, I haven’t read the whole series yet and perhaps that perception / opinion will change as I move through the next books in sequence as its hard to know what my final thoughts will be until I’ve read the whole series. You are at an advantage over me on that note. :)

  4. Lots of great thoughts here! I too connected w/ Rosemary, and was taken by her bravery in risking deepod travel to rendezvous with a ship she literally knew nothing about, taking a job with a crew she didn’t know. An interesting way to start the series! And great point about Ashby too- he’s the kind of level headed captain I’d want if I were to go spacing, rather than some cocky seat of the pants character haha!

    I think you make a good point about tech advancements and the ethics questions that come along with that- I guess I hadn’t made that connection so much, the ethics part, I was more thinking how fun it was imagining the possibilities. Would I personally body mod or stuff like that? I like to think probably not? But it is interesting to think about. The idea of imubots in the bloodstream is both fascinating and a little frightening!

    I found Lovelace fascinating, and how she tried to set Rose at ease when she arrived. I think Lovelace feels pretty different from any other AI that I’ve read about in SF? Also… some random thoughts. I also liked how they tried to make Rose feel at home with setting up her room. And the Fishbowl- yes please! Love that.

    • Hallo, Hallo Greg!

      I appreciate you coming by and sharing your thoughts with me!! :) I am enjoying this RAL – not just for discovering the series itself but for the open discussion with everyone! Now to address what you were broaching in your reply: I was truly compelled by Rosemary’s bravery and her willingness to step outside her normal life on Mars to embrace a wholly new one out in open Space!! It takes a lot of courage to make that kind of transition but also, I think it shows how sometimes taking a few daring risks can lead you into a life you never thought you could live. I loved how open Rosemary remains to the experience – to connecting with her crew mates but also, in how she is approaching life on the ship itself. She’s definitely a role model for ‘living outside your comfort zone’ and finding joy in the unexpected!

      I’m thankful you re-considered that one tangent of thought in the series – about the ethical line regarding medical advancements, as I agree on the surface of it, it sounds interesting but if you look past that into what it truly involves, you start to see it a bit differently. The more they discuss imubots and dentbots – the more you wonder why the didn’t keep a less evasive alternative for dealing with both? Sometimes too much advancement can have its downsides but then again, the way in which the tech (in the next chapter breaks) talks about bone health and reconstruction after injury leads to a plausible balance between invasive procedure and a justified advancement; though there is a tricky line in the sand still about it all.

      The closest AI I found to Lovelace is Andromeda on the series of the same name? I started watching it this past week and noticed similarities between the two AI; especially as they are both becoming introduced to ‘body fits’ and living outside their nature systems of interface. I haven’t come across this in another story as of yet either.

      Thanks for sharing your takeaways and of carrying the discussion forward!! I look forward to hearing your thoughts today as we start Part II of the SMALL ANGRY PLANET chat!! Til soon!

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