The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, by Becky Chambers

Second paragraph of third chapter:

Rosemary imagined the lengthy letter of complaint her mother might write after such a trip. She tried to imagine the circumstances in which her mother would travel by deepod at all. She couldn’t even picture her mother setting foot within a public spaceport. Rosemary had been surprised to find herself in such a place. The dingy waiting area, the twitching pixel posters, the stale smells of algae gunk and cleaning fluid. Despite the exoskeletons and tentacles milling around her, she had felt like the alien there.

A great new style space opera, with our heroine carrying a dreadful secret yet bonding with her multi-species crew, who I think owe at least as much to Traveller as to Larry Niven or David Brin, while undertaking what at first seems a tricky but plausible engineering mission that turns out to have major political consequences. What’s particularly interesting is Chambers’ portrayal of interspecies sex and love – not without problems or consequences, but that’s equally true of relationships between humans as well. And there are plenty of pleasing nods to the history of the space opera sub genre going back to Heinlein. I’m surprised to say I missed the inaccuracies spotted by .

As I noted before, this was the only book submitted for the Clarke Award that a) finished in the top 20% of all four Goodreads/LibraryThing measures and b) was not a later volume in a series. It’s been getting a decent amount of buzz (including from Martin Wisse at Eastercon), so I bought it and read it – too late for Hugo nominations, alas; I don’t think it would have got into my Best Novel list (and I’ll be surprised if others vote it in), but Chambers would certainly have got my nomination for the Campbell Award, as she is getting many others’, and would surely stand a good chance of winning it – if Andy Weir were not already certain to do so this year.