Week 3: 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, the opening chapters brought us an apology from Tak to Sidra following the tattoo debacle. What were your thoughts on that particular scene?

Mostly relief. I thought for sure Sidra would have lost Tak as a friend and as the first connection that she’d so desperately wanted. Tak’s open-mindedness is understandable given the reasons, though; I think they share a lot in common despite their different origins. Then there was Tak’s confession about not having much A.I. experience. The apology was probably encouraged by the understanding that there was a void in knowledge which needed to be filled.

2. The stories between Jane and Sidra have a certain symmetry and this week’s was no exception as we watched the pair of them almost go through a period akin to puberty. Did any of their particular experiences bring back fond, or not so fond, memories for you?

Haha, last week I compared Sidra to a teenager who was just starting to develop her independence, and in doing so was also maybe trying to test her limits. I guess we were on the right track leading up to the sections featuring Jane this week. While I won’t deny I had my own defiant phase as a teenager, I sure hope I wasn’t such a brat! It did made me think perhaps that Jane’s behavior was exaggerated – I could understand the hormones, but would someone who has had her life of isolation, with only Owl as her guardian really act out in the ways she did, i.e. so similar to the stereotype of your modern-day rebellious high schooler?

3. I love the two separate storylines going on here and though Jane and Sidra share some common ground I think their stories both have something different to say. What are your thoughts on that?

They both want more control over their own destinies, I think. This week Sidra almost gave up when her confidence was shattered after the incident at the party, but later decided to take matters into her own hands by looking into her programming. With Jane, we saw how her grisly discovery drove home the idea that if she didn’t want her own bones to end up forgotten in a scrap heap, then she’ll have to get her act together and start taking steps to get off the planet. In both cases, they’re taking matters into their own hands so they can start shaping their own futures.

4. I’m curious about the Enhanced. We haven’t really spent a lot of time with them but I still think we can draw some conclusions. Is there any aspect of the Enhanced and the planet on which they live that really caught your attention?

I’ll admit, I’m probably just as confused about the Enhanced now as I was when I first started, so I’m not too comfortable speculating on them that much yet. The introduction of Laurian didn’t offer much illumination either. I’m hoping in the final section of the book he’ll open up more about himself and then more puzzle pieces will start falling into place.

5. At the end of the chapters we have a couple of new developments. Sidra has managed to alter the protocols that compel her to speak the truth and the spaceship that Jane escaped in has been uncovered. Do you have any predictions how either of these might affect what is yet to come?

Hard to say; with only 20% or so left to go in the book, I would expect everything to start tying together now. Pepper, who is Jane, is likely looking for the spaceship because of how much Owl means to her. I’m guessing we’ll get the story behind what happened to cause them to separate and lose track of each other, and when they retrieve the spaceship I sure hope Jane/Pepper will find what she’s looking for or I’m sure there will be some epic-level tears. Given the bittersweet ending Chambers gave us in A Long Way, I would say sucker punches are entirely possible, so I’m not ruling anything out at this point.

With regards to Sidra, all I can say is: good for her. I know they say honesty is a virtue, but can you imagine having to answer every single question that is ever asked of you, and to always reply with the truth? It’s hard to be truly human without being able to keep some parts of yourself to yourself, and everyone should be entitled to their own private thoughts. I hope Sidra learns to treasure and not abuse this gift, and that Pepper won’t give her too much of a hard time over it.

Mogsy 2

6 Comments on “Week 3: A Closed and Common Orbit Read-Along”

  1. I hadn’t thought about the full implications about Pepper’s ship being found and that maybe she’ll find Owl. I was more thinking it might spell trouble in some way – like maybe Pepper is maybe illegally on the planet and had hidden the ship but now I think about that it doesn’t make sense because she wouldn’t have just left Owl behind would she. I need to read on and find out what’s going on!
    Lynn 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fair question about Jane’s teenage antics. That hadn’t really occurred to me, even though I spent some time this week musing on nature/nurture. I get that there’s a certain biological / hormonal element and we continually test boundaries from as soon as we open our eyes, but Jane has had no exposure to teen rebellion as an expectation, so would she act up in quite this manner? Maybe not. Testing boundaries, certainly. Needing more sleep, absolutely …although I can relate to her frustrated sulking about her endless to do list, for sure 😉


  3. Pingback: A Closed and Common Orbit (week 3): this princess doesn’t need rescuing – x+1

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