A Review of: Record of a Spaceborn Few: [Wayfarers 3], by Becky Chambers

Book 3 builds on the existing cosmic space utilized in the previous 2 books – same ‘alien’ types, crossover of some locations, mentions of characters we have previously been introduced to in books one and two.


It is set primarily on the ‘original’ space fleet ships that left Earth, called the ‘Exodan’ people nowadays. The people who left Earth branched off into many different factions with different philosophies, ideals and ways of life. Some eventually took up dwelling on other planets in the system, others on Generational ships journeying out into the cosmos. Others who eventually relocated on to other planets in the galaxy in different Star systems.


For the most part, we follow a few characters on a ship. Tangentially we have a link to one of the original book characters – Ashby – his sister is a constant and main-ish character here. Sadly that is about the end of the crossover that really draws threads to book One.


The story here has several different but mildly related stories:

  • Ashby’s sister, Tessa, her kids, and husband, and their struggle to consider moving “down’ planet, and off the ships.
  • Ras, and Kip, a couple teen boys on the Exodan ship, who are hoping to get into university (off ship) to learn a trade and go somewhere else after Because who wants to stay on a ship when the whole universe is out there? Their struggle to be late year teens, almost free to do as they like, and the bonds that try to keep them close to home.
  • Eyas, A lady who lives on the Exodan ship, & in the Revered job that recycles dead people into compost [Caretaker]. A very important substance when your ship is a self contained environment.
  • Sunny, A sex worker who interacts with our Caretaker. They’re on all the ships, and it’s free, because it’s health and well Being thing. Eyas likes going to the clubs for her need, because it’s a straight forward transaction, no guessing, and no strings, no messy emotions, like the trouble she’s had previously meeting people because they react funny when they find out her profession. She she’s stopped trying to meet people for a relationship, and just simply goes and takes care of her needs when she likes. She goes to a different ship, so no one recognizes her.
  • Isabel, An older lady who is an ‘archivist’ – someone who records events, for historical data.
  • A Harmigan historian [who’s name I’m not even going to bother trying to explain for you], who is a ‘penpal’ of the Archivist, and who has now come to visit the Exodan ships to learn and consume the more about them, and the civilizations on them, and share in her ‘blog’ out to the peoples of the universe
  • Sawyer, A young man who grew up on a far flung Harmigan planet, now traveled up to the ships to get a job, and explore. Learn what life is like on the other side, in the contained wold of the Exodan ships.
    They’re all tied to the Exodan ship, and it’s ecosystem. Sometimes their paths cross…. but not so much. It’s an enjoyable read, for the most part, the everyday trials and tribulations of what life might be like in the distant future. Throw in a horrific space accident, a murder, a coming of age story, a finding ones’ path story, a budding relationship story… and you have all your boxes checked. My biggest gripe about Record Of A Spaceborn Few: the last ‘section‘ of this book…. We have all these different story lines throughout the entire book, and they’re getting closer to coming together… to resolution…. But then, instead of what might be another 1/3 of book to complete it all beautifully, doesn’t exist. Instead: We get a series of blurbs. X did this, 4 months later. Y did this, 1 year later. Z was here 5 years later.

And while the catching up was mildly informative, and closed some story loops [barely] – it was an extremely disappointing way to try and bring it all to a satisfying end. More like the editor was “hey, your deadline was last week!,” or, “hey, we need to finish this at 60,000 words, cause that’s all you get & you’re already over’. Etc etc. the ending was NOT inline with the book. It was an afterthought, and a bad one. Like 1/3 the book was just discarded [or unwritten] and replaced with a few blurbs.


It’s a real flop and disappointment. As if either the Author stopped caring about finishing this story. In any scenario, it was a slap in the face to the story of this book. It did not do it justice, it did not feel complete or cared about. It actually made my feelings about reading anything else by this author pretty sour.


And more to that – there was a couple characters who were constants in the book – that didn’t get a wrap up blurb at all. So we’re just left sadly wondering how it ended for them. No clues, no continuation in the next book [since it’s no really a series.]. Just a pile of unresolved dangly bits. Very disappointing. Whether this whole f-up of ending was the authors choice, or brought on thru editing, it was poor, and disappointing.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Thoughts:

• Story pacing?
Slow roll. 5/10

• Story character arcs?
The characters all have defined and clear arc… but the book ends before they are complete in any way shape or form. 5/10

• Story arc?
I guess? It’s more like a snippet of time. More subtle, I suppose. 5/10

• Story writing quality?
I like the book in general, but as you saw above, I have strong feelings about the missing back 1/3 of it. So we’re reflecting that here. 5/10

• Story wokeness? (tolerable / gag me).
Story is inclusive, and broad, but never in a makes you gag way. Yay! 9/10

• Grates against my annoyances?
AUTHOR IS ON A KICK USING ‘BEAT’ IN THIS BOOK. And you all know how that disgusts me. 0/10

• Grates against my annoyances? (fictional words).
Author has naturally had to make up names for planets, species, people, etc. I get the world building aspect of giving places a distinct feel with a similar rhythm or such to words, and the use of simplicity/complexity, etc. But oh my stars, I just can not cope with Authors using unpronounceable words. Our Harmigan historian here is the prime example. 2/10

• Story romance level?
None that felt out of place. Sure, Tessa is married, and there’s some exposition of back story of that. And of course Eyas and Sunny. But none of it is gratuitous, or descriptive. A relationship exists, but there isn’t unnecessary sex scenes. 10/10

• Story readability?
Easy reading, for the most part, bad choice in fictional words aside. 8/10

• Story Completeness (did it end on a cliff hanger, or a see my next book!)?
Just.. no. This book fails. At least 1/3 at the end is missing , in my opinion. 0/10

• Did the story cover familiar ground, or go new places?
Familiar places, due to the shared universe, but in general new ideas and themes, felt fresh. Not like every other space life book you’ve read. It’s less sci-fi, and more ‘a day in the life’ writing. 8/10

• Was there anything I wanted to know that was left unanswered?
ALL THE STORY PLOT ENDINGS. 1/10

• Things I really liked / or didn’t like?
I think we’ve covered this. There’s a lot I didn’t like. But overall, despite that, I really have enjoyed the ‘series’ and the shared universe here. The aliens are well described, and easy to imagine. They’re interesting, and varied. Some are much more ‘advanced’ than humans, others have centuries of baggage, that filters to prejudices, etc. Makes it down to earth and believable. The life laid out for the characters seems well thought out, and is easily believable. 7/10

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