Date: July, 2014
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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.
If living in a world that struggles to be respectful, sensitive, or loving to those that are different gets you down, reading this might be a cathartic experience.
The job of the Wayfarer and it’s crew is creating wormholes for space travel. But that’s not what this book is about. It’s about the relationships between its crew members Captain Ashby, clerk Rosemary, mechanics Kizzy and Jenks, cook/healer Dr. Chef, algeist Corbin, pilot Sissix, navigator Ohan, and last but certainly not least, the ships AI Lovey (I shan’t cry).
Some of these characters are human and others decidedly not. But here in this small world they work daily to coexist, understand, and support each other despite extremely different needs, whether they be social or biological. All without any manufactured drama or heightened fictionalized misunderstandings. Somehow in this little ship out in space are relationships that feel more real and heartwarming than half those I’ve read set in our own world.
One by one each of these characters charmed the heck out of me. First it was Dr. Chef, because I love how the role of nourisher and healer go together, because they really should. Then it was Kizzy who had me literally laughing-out-loud with her whole ‘Socks Match My Hat’ song, which will only make sense when you read the book but it was hilarious. Then it was Jenks, who over time has fallen in love with the ships body-less AI Lovey.
But in the three standards since she’d been installed, she’d become much more than just the ship’s AI. She’d become someone wonderful.
Captain Ashby and Rosemary are loveable, smart, sweet and also the most average and human of the bunch, but they have romantic partners who certainly aren’t. Human that is. One of them is a side character that doesn’t live on the ship. I didn’t get a real feel for her at first but ended up liking her a lot.
Reclusive and difficult Corbin first made me think of a very un-funny Arnold Rimmer from the show Red Dwarf (I love Red Dwarf). Until the last quarter of the book when scenes and events surrounding him started breaking my heart in good and bad ways all over the place and I just wanted to force cuddles on him.
Sissix provides some of the more interesting opportunities for the crew as far as learning to coexist with someone who is both similar and different, whether it be putting down runners so her claws don’t get caught in the floor grates or navigating her species need for touch and lack of interest in personal space.
Navigator Ohan is the most alien and incomprehensible to both the other characters and the reader, but circumstances surrounding him, the virus which his species deliberately infects themselves with and it’s social and biological significance plays an important part in the story.
This book is funny, sad, compelling, and has all the heart. The galaxy they live in isn’t any more enlightened than Earth but these characters form a surprisingly functional family.