HADRON AGE SF (54)
January 12, 2023
One in a series of posts about the 75 best sf adventures published during the genre’s Hadron Age era (from 2004–2023, according to HILOBROW’s periodization schema). For Josh Glenn’s Hadron Age Sci-Fi 75 list (a work in progress), click here.
Becky Chambers’s A Closed and Common Orbit (2016).
The sequel to The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (2015) begins in the immediate aftermath of Chambers’s first novel. Lovelace (“Lovey”), the starship Wayfarer‘s sentient onboard computer, has loaded herself into an illegal android “puppet” body (her “kit,” she finds, doesn’t feel right to her), and heads out to pursue an independent existence. Sidra (the new name Lovey chooses) is accompanied by Pa fellow outlaw: Pepper, a genius mechanic — a minor character from the previous book. A parallel narrative strand explores the early years in the life of Jane #23, a genetically modified child slave who is part of a system — a factory overseen by robots — that she doesn’t know exists. The narrative is also moved along by posts to underground message boards. As with Gordon Dahlquist’s The Different Girl (2013), this is among other things a novel about education and acculturation — Pepper essentially becomes mother to a person with a brilliant mind but a child’s limited understanding of the world. Will Sidra successfully integrate into a planet’s culture, and adapt to her “kit”? What Ever happened to Baby Jane #23? A lovely adventure.
Fun facts: Other installments in the Wayfarers series, which won the Hugo Award for Best Series in 2019: Record of a Spaceborn Few (2018) and The Galaxy, and the Ground Within (2021). “Very few of us actually have a nemesis!” Chambers has said in an interview, explaining why A Closed and Common Orbit doesn’t have any villains. “Most of us are just struggling against social constructs and we never get to see the faces behind those constructs, often because those things have been built over a long period of time.”
JOSH GLENN’S *BEST ADVENTURES* LISTS: BEST 250 ADVENTURES OF THE 20TH CENTURY | 100 BEST OUGHTS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST RADIUM AGE (PROTO-)SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TEENS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TWENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST THIRTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST GOLDEN AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FORTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FIFTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SIXTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST NEW WAVE SCI FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SEVENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST EIGHTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST DIAMOND AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST NINETIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST HADRON AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES.