Week 1: A Closed and Common Orbit Read-Along

Sci-Fi November might be over, but that doesn’t mean the sci-fi fun has to stop. Our Read-Along of A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers has officially begun. If you’re interested in participating, hop on over to the SF/F Read-Along group for more information; we’d love for you to join the discussion. Have you read The Long Way to A Small Angry Planet, the first Wayfarers book? Are you planning on reading this standalone follow-up? Let us know your thoughts.

a-closed-and-common-orbit-2 A Closed and Common Orbit

Lovelace was once merely a ship’s artificial intelligence. When she wakes up in an 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’s 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.

A Closed and Common Orbit is the stand-alone sequel to Becky Chambers’ beloved debut novel The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet and is perfect for fans of Firefly, Joss Whedon, Mass Effectand Star Wars.

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Week 1: Friday 2nd December – Part 1 up to Page 94, hosted byLisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Week 2: Friday 9th December – Page 95 to End of Part 1, hosted by Imyril at There’s Always Room For One More
Week 3: Friday 16th December – all of Part 2, hosted by Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Week 4: Friday 23rd December – Part 3 to End, hosted by Mogsy at The BiblioSanctum


1. So this story picks up more or less where The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet left off, but rather than having an ensemble cast on an adventure, it seems this story is much more intimately focused on Lovelace (later named Sidra) and ‘Jane 23’. What’s your initial response to this shift in the narrative style between books? Is it one you appreciate or do you think you’ll miss the ensemble aspect (assuming you’ve read Small Angry Planet)?

You know, I actually think I prefer this. As much as I enjoyed the large ensemble cast of A Long Way to A Small Angry Planet, there is something to be said about having a more intimate connection with only one or two characters in a story; I tend to do better with books like these. I might miss the characters from book one themselves, but not so much the format. I am pretty comfortable with how things are going so far with just Lovelace/Sidra and Pepper/Jane 23.

2. Sidra’s first experiences of living confined to a body mean that readers get to see her new home, and her new world, through the eyes of someone who’s never experienced it in such a way before. What aspects of Sidra’s first days ‘on the ground’ on Coriol stand out to you, and why?

So many examples! A few that stood out for me were the times we got to learn how Sidra’s body kit was fitted out, discovering all kinds of “features” its creators had programmed in. Sidra having her first experience with the warm drink and getting the “associated imagery” of the lounging cat was pretty hilarious. There was also the part where she called up the steps to “make herself comfortable.” Now wouldn’t it be nice if everyone in the world followed such careful protocols for, say, etiquette? The things she learned at the party were pretty interesting too, but to be honest, as the reader I probably felt just as overwhelmed and awestruck about the world as our protagonist did.

3. The POV switches regularly between Sidra in the present and Jane 23, a clone raised in some form of slave labour with many others of her kind, when she was a 10-year old girl. What do you make of Jane and her upbringing at this point, and where do you think her story might be going from here? Does her story interest you as much as Sidra’s (or vice versa)?

Hard to say, since we’re still so early in the book. Jane 23’s story is slowly emerging at this point, but it’s pretty clear to me already that this Pepper in the past. I’m a little confused about where her storyline is going right now, only because everything in her world is still so new and alien and bizarre to me, but I’m interested to see where this is going. I would say Sidra’s POV is more engaging at the moment simply because I know more about her, but this could rapidly change as the plot develops further in the Jane 23 chapters.

4. In general, what’s stood out the most to you about these chapters so far, and why? Has anything raised questions or curiosity, or particularly turned you off? Discuss your favourite bits!

I believe I’ve already discussed a few of my favorite scenes in my answers above, but in general I find I’m really enjoying the relationship dynamics between Sidra and Pepper. As for curious questions, I did get a random thought about whether we might get to see any of the old cast again, even if it’s just a brief cameo or two. But since A Closed and Common Orbit has been touted as a “standalone” sequel/companion novel, I doubt it. I mean, it would be nice if it happened, but I definitely won’t hold my breath.

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7 Comments on “Week 1: A Closed and Common Orbit Read-Along”

  1. Gah, just put up my own review for this one! Fabulous coincidence. I’m so glad to see this series getting so much love – I think it’s so deserving. Who needs sad Hugo puppies when we have such awesome subversive sci-fi?!


  2. I love that Sidra keeps reference files on everything – one of those brilliant touches to reinforce she. is. not. human. She can’t just ‘remember’. She needs a note. Although to be fair, so do I mostly 😉


  3. Pingback: A Closed and Common Orbit: across the uncanny valley – x+1

  4. Pingback: A Closed and Common Orbit (week 2): the art of being human – x+1

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