A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton) ISBN: 9781473621473
A Closed and Common Orbit is the stand-alone sequel to Becky Chambers’ debut novel The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet.
Lovelace is a character from the first book. She is an artificial intelligence who ran a spaceship, with myriad data pathways and surveillance networks. On the run, the AI is downloaded into a humanoid robot body by Pepper, a streetwise pilot, mechanic, and tech guru.
Lovelace chooses a human name – Sidra – and she we watch as she tries to become human, playing down the benefits of being an artificial intelligence system.
A Closed and Common Orbit fits perfectly into Chambers’ world, which is realistic, grubby, and filled with technology. Her storytelling strength lies in her complex, mostly likeable characters, no matter which species she is writing about.
Her plotting is almost non-existent, but this should not worry you if you invest in the world and the characters.
Half the book is about Pepper’s awful beginning as ‘Jane 23’. She was created to be a slave in a scrap shop run by robots, known as ‘Mothers’. The story of her escape and her relationship with Owl is engrossing – especially when you already know where she ended up.
The other half of the book is told from the viewpoint of Sidra. She is oddly believable, struggling with panic attacks and claustrophobia, as she struggles to adapt to her new reality.
If you are looking for a sci-fi read that is oddly human, you will love this book.