Becky Chambers' debut novel, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, is a delicious read. It focuses on the experiences of the multi-species crew of Wayfarer, a tunnelling ship specifically designed to create the equivalent of stable wormholes between planets that facilitate intergalactic travel. Captain Ashby Santoso and his crew are a motley bunch, the ship mostly held together by the eccentric brilliance of her two human techs, Kizzy and Jenks, and the ship's AI Lovey. The most indispensable crew member is their Navigator Ohan, a Sianat pair - one body, two entities, one a symbiotic infection that enables the Pair to perceive the otherspace they tunnel through. The actual flying of the ship is done by pilot Sissex, a cold-blooded but extremely affectionate Aandrisk. The ship's doctor, a six-legged Grum who answers to the name of Dr. Chef, doubles as the cook and gardener. Rounding out the crew is Corbin, another human, who is responsible for maintaining the production of the algae used to fuel the ship. Into this mix comes Rosemary, the ship's new clerk, whose ability to navigate the bureaucracies of multiple worlds will make the Wayfarer more likely to win and effectively complete higher-end contracts.
The first of these is a very valuable contract - requiring them to travel in normal space for a full year to the home planet of a species newly welcomed into the Galactic Commons, and then "punch" the tunnel back to GC space.
The story unfolds slowly, giving us time to enjoy discovering the depths and mysteries of the characters, and their cultures. It's in some ways a different kind of space story, one that's more about the people undertaking a tricky mission and how that affects their relationships over time than it is about action and adventure - although there's a fair bit of that, too.
I'm looking forward to more from Chambers - maybe even more tales of the good ship Wayfarer and her crew.