Our species doesn’t operate by reality. It operates by stories. Cities are a story. Money is a story. Space was a story, once. A king tells us a story about who we are and why we’re great, and that story is enough to make us go kill people who tell a different story. Or maybe the people kill the king because they don’t like his story and have begun to tell themselves a different one.
It’s no secret that I’m completely “ride or die” for Becky Chambers and her Wayfarers series, and Record of a Spaceborn Few is further affirmation of what A Closed and Common Orbit cemented (read my review here), what The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet began. Like the two before it, Chambers’ latest book tells a fresh, personal story set in the world she first described in 2014’s Wayfarers #1.
Note: This is a standalone story set it the world and the continuity of the Wayfarers series, and does not directly reference any of the characters in the previous two books.
This time, we readers are finally getting up close with the oft-referenced human travelers, the Exodans. This story follows four (or five) characters living in the Exodus Fleet, which has long since left its mission to travel the stars behind it and entered a permanent orbit around a small sun. The Exodan community faces many challenges, mainly stemming from the necessities of living in the closed environment of the fleet. Complicating this are two factors: 1) Exodans by-and-large insist on perpetuating as insular a lifestyle as possible, wanting to be self-contained and self-sufficient, and 2) more Exodans leave the fleet to seek life elsewhere in the Universe than come back to rejoin their old home. In addition, the remains of an exploded Exodus ship are in orbit with the rest of the fleet, casting a permanent dark cloud over Exodan life and standing as a reminder of how fragile, how tenuous, life in the fleet truly is.