Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers
The best stories about humanity are not set on Earth.
And I can see why. We are so enveloped in our own little world, that when trying to tell stories that are as big as the word ‘humanity’, it’s very hard to gain perspective. Everything we do is human, from waking up to going to sleep. And while there are parts of our society that aren’t human (animals, nature etc), we have still controlled them in a very human way. We have made them human.
So, stick it in space. Stick your story into a future where we have destroyed Earth and have met new species that do not adhere to our realm of reality. Or our characteristics. Our biology. Our made up ‘truthful’ ways.
And you get a Becky Chambers novel.
I’m floored every time I read one; each different yet telling the same story. Who are we? What does it mean to be human? Especially when you are human in a very non-human space?
Some of the questions and narratives posed in Record of a Spaceborn Few can be so simple, and yet people don’t think about them, they don’t think that an action, or a feeling, or an emotion, is intrinsically human. We think of other species to be like us; they have our senses, our limbs, our way of speaking. But that won’t be the case at all. Other species will not adhere to our norms, and I love that these books try to stretch our imagination further than “human…but they’re green!”.
Above all, I love the characters in Record of a Spaceborn Few. In all of Chambers’ books, really. I know that society can (most of the time) feel like a big ball of suck, but every single one of these characters is pure and soft. I love the way they are a part of something much bigger than themselves, yet still make up their society in little pieces, whether that’s in their career, their opinions, or just their past times. May seem like a no brainer, because that’s what characters do, but through each narrative you receive more insight into their society and what it’s like for the ‘average’ person. They’re not famous, they’re not rich, they’re not powerful. They’re just humans, living their connected lives on a giant spaceship in space.
So please, please read these books. Do not let space or ‘sci-fi’ throw you off (as I know it does some). These books are so much more than that.