Book Review: The Galaxy and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers

With no water, no air, and no native life, the planet Gora is unremarkable. The only thing it has going for it is a chance proximity to more popular worlds, making it a decent stopover for ships traveling between the wormholes that keep the Galactic Commons connected. If deep space is a highway, Gora is just your average truck stop.

At the Five-Hop One-Stop, long-haul spacers can stretch their legs (if they have legs, that is), and get fuel, transit permits, and assorted supplies. The Five-Hop is run by an enterprising alien and her sometimes helpful child, who work hard to provide a little piece of home to everyone passing through.

When a freak technological failure halts all traffic to and from Gora, three strangers—all different species with different aims—are thrown together at the Five-Hop. Grounded, with nothing to do but wait, the trio—an exiled artist with an appointment to keep, a cargo runner at a personal crossroads, and a mysterious individual doing her best to help those on the fringes—are compelled to confront where they’ve been, where they might go, and what they are, or could be, to each other.

I have enjoyed the whole of the Wayfarers Quartet but this instalment is the closest match to Long Way to A Small Angry Planet. I really liked Galaxy, it was, as I’ve come to expect from Chambers’ writing a gentle story, a simple story I suppose but one with a lot of heart.

This time we have four species who know and understand varying amounts about each other stuck together in at a layover point when a disaster strikes. The story is not about the disaster that is dealt with mostly ‘off page’ but how our characters deal with it and what they learn from each other.

I loved all of them. They were all very different, in looks, culture and personality but they were all fascinating and likeable. I wanted to know more about all of their stories (I have a real soft spot for Ouloo, the Laru ground host though) Watching them tentatively start to support each other and take the opportunity to learn from each other made for a great read.

We also learnt more about what had bought them to the layover point and where they were going on to as the story progressed. Told from the POV point of all four of our main characters we got to know all of them well.

A lovely, gentle spacer story (that had very little actual space) this was a delight to read.

With thanks to Hodder & Stoughton and Netgalley for a copy in exchange for honest review.

The Galaxy and the Ground Within is available 18/02/2021