A Closed and Common Orbit

A Closed and Common Orbit

Book - 2016 | First US edition
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Lovelace was once merely a ship's artificial intelligence. When she wakes up in a 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 is 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.
Publisher: New York, NY : Harper Voyager, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2016]
Edition: First US edition
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9780062569400 (paperback)
0062569406 (paperback)
Branch Call Number: S CHAMBERS
Characteristics: 367 pages ; 21 cm


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Jan 20, 2019

I LOVED The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. I ate that book up. So when my library alerted me that the sequel was available, I didn't waste time snagging it.

The thing is, the sequel is a stand-alone follow up that follows Pepper and Lovelace, not the crew of the Wayfarer. And although Pepper's backstory is kind of heartbreaking, and this book had some bittersweet things to say about finding your place in life, I was a tad bit disappointed that I wasn't following the further adventures of the Wayfarer crew.

So now that my initial disappointment with the book is out of the way: it was good. Solid science fiction. You don't have to read the first book (but why wouldn't you?), and it's a very human-centric, character-driven narrative. We get Pepper then and now, and Lovelace as she figures out how to be real. There's Becky Chambers' adept use of perspective (I have never considered AI civil rights so much as I did while reading this book) and statements about how we humans treat each other when we think no one is holding us accountable.

I enjoyed the story, and I enjoyed the characters. I'm a bit nervous that the ending wrapped up so nicely. Is there gonna be a Wayfarers #3? All in all, it was a quick and interesting read that wraps up a loose end from the first novel. I recommend it to fans of the first Wayfarers novel, and fans of science fiction in general.

IndyPL_SteveB Dec 30, 2018

A second excellent SF novel by Becky Chambers. This is an independent sequel to *The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet*. At the end of the previous book, the ship’s artificial intelligence (“AI”) had been destroyed while saving the ship. An attempted reboot did not bring back the AI’s memories and personality. Pepper, a technician who had been brought in to help the ship, downloaded the rebooted AI into an illegal humanoid body kit and took “her” (programmed female personality) back to the planet where Pepper had her repair shop.

The basic plot splits into two parts. The AI, now named Sidra, needs to learn how to be undetectably *human*. But it is a case of the blind leading the blind. Pepper herself has always had trouble learning how to be human, because she was raised by AIs. The novel alternates chapters between Sidra and Pepper trying to work out how to be human adults and chapters where young “Jane 23” (Pepper’s childhood name) figures out how to survive on a planet where she is a factory slave.

Neither of these novels is like anyone else’s work. The author is very thoughtful and really plans the details in a believable manner. It was hard to put down.

Nov 14, 2018

One of the striking things about the Wayfarer books is how Chambers really succeeds in creating emotional investment in AIs as characters. I was devastated by Lovey’s fate in The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, and this in turn gave me complicated feels about Sidra going into book two. However, in this volume, I become most invested in Owl, the AI who raises Jane, slowly teaching her everything the Mothers deliberately keep from their charges, and helping her develop the skills she will need to repair the ship and escape the planet. After what happened to Lovey in the first book, I desperately needed for Owl to be okay. In as much as I enjoy a good, dark, gritty science fiction, fantasy, or dystopia, this series has really reminded me how much I also enjoy hopeful speculative fiction, which doesn’t deny the darkness in the universe, but dares to imagine a bright future anyway.

Full review: https://shayshortt.com/2018/11/13/a-closed-and-common-orbit/

JCLS_Ashland_Kristin Oct 16, 2018

Even better than the first in this series (The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet), this companion volume juxtaposes two stories of friendships between AI and Human characters in a really smart way!

Aug 30, 2018

Stories happened in the same universe as "the long way to a small angry planet". It follows another two characters, Pepper and Sidra (formerly Lovelace), life stories. This book can be a bit slow at the beginning, especially the part with Sidra.
Again, the story is packed with humanity, sad, and funny episodes.
I like the writing style of the author a lot. Easy to read and follow.

Mar 13, 2018

I wasn’t really into this novel until I read past the first few chapters, then I couldn’t put it down. I bet the problem for some readers is that they’re expecting a sequel to her earlier novel that just picks up where the last one left off. This doesn’t do that. It focuses on a subset of the characters from the previous work, but I think it does that well — after it gets going. The parallel story lines worked too, though I found myself much more interested in Jane.

Oct 06, 2017

Boring and pointless sequel. Almost didn't get past the first 80 pages. I won't be looking for her next book.

Aug 15, 2017

Becky Chambers' second book in this series is a gem. I found A Closed and Common Orbit more than compelling and I prefer it to book one, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet—though both are wonderful. Characters from book one come alive, interlock and resonate in phenomenal and unexpected ways, revealing each other across time. This is deft writing. Chambers has written a engaging and entertaining "sequel", but it can entirely stand all on its own if need be.

Jun 15, 2017

While I liked her first book this one was pretty flat. The book alternates between two time periods and two perspectives, unfortunately one of these stories is brilliant and the other is as bland as a bowl of cornflakes and rice milk.

I could have happily read a full-length novel dealing with nothing but Jane's story. Sidra's story was so unbearable that I was tempted to skip the chapters when they came up. It improved a little towards the end of the book but by that point it had already become such a chore that the resolution of the plot lines was more of a relief than anything else.

May 06, 2017

Another marvelous book by the author. We follow two characters from the first book. Pepper, formerly Jane 23, and the AI Sidra in a human kit body (illegal), formerly the ship AI Lovelace. Jane 23 is a slave clone sorting scrap in a factory and has no idea she is on a planet or there is any place outside the factory. We follow her from when she escapes the factory at age 10 to when she finally escapes the scrap yard at age 19 with Laurian, who becomes her partner Blue. The chapters alternate between the development of Sidra in the present and Pepper in the past. We also follow the interaction of Jane 23 and the ship AI Owl, on a scrap shuttle in the scrap yard. Owl teaches Jane about the universe and works at keeping her alive until they can all escape. The development of all the sapient characters, including the AIs, is really well done.

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Nov 14, 2018

As Jane headed back home, she decided something, and she knew it better than she’d ever known anything. She would die someday—no getting around that. But nobody would find her bones in the scrapyard. She wasn’t going to leave them there.


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