Return to the sprawling, Hugo Award-winning universe of the Galactic Commons to explore another corner of the cosmos—one often mentioned, but not yet explored—in this absorbing entry in the Wayfarers series, which blends heart-warming characters and imaginative adventure.
With no water, no air, and no native life, the planet Gora is unremarkable. The only thing it has going for it is a chance proximity to more popular worlds, making it a decent stopover for ships traveling between the wormholes that keep the Galactic Commons connected. If deep space is a highway, Gora is just your average truck stop.
At the Five-Hop One-Stop, long-haul spacers can stretch their legs (if they have legs, that is), and get fuel, transit permits, and assorted supplies. The Five-Hop is run by an enterprising alien and her sometimes helpful child, who work hard to provide a little piece of home to everyone passing through.
When a freak technological failure halts all traffic to and from Gora, three strangers—all different species with different aims—are thrown together at the Five-Hop. Grounded, with nothing to do but wait, the trio—an exiled artist with an appointment to keep, a cargo runner at a personal crossroads, and a mysterious individual doing her best to help those on the fringes—are compelled to confront where they’ve been, where they might go, and what they are, or could be, to each other.
Chambers concludes her Wayfarers series (after Record of a Spaceborn Few) with this delightful, cozy novel of cross-species alien interaction. Ouloo, a furry Laru, conscientiously serves all her customers at the Five-Hop One Stop on the lifeless galactic way station of Gora while raising her moody adolescent child, Tupo. A satellite crash knocks out communication and delays departures just after three separate aliens arrive on Gora. Pei Tem, a scaled, cargo-running Aeluon, grows frustrated that she won't make her rendezvous with her secret human lover. Roveg, an exiled arthropodlike Quelin, frets about missing a mysterious but vital appointment. And Speaker, a methane-breathing Akarak, worries about her weak-lunged twin sister, Tracker, who is still on their ship in orbit. As official statements continually push off the all-clear, the stranded group gets to know each other in fascinating, mostly congenial conversations. But things take a turn for the worse when Pei enters her once-in-a-lifetime "shimmering" stage of fertility and picks a drunken fight with Speaker and their argument distracts everybody from noticing a crisis. There are some real moments of anxiety to keep the pages turning, but the highlights are the characters' meaty debates and Chambers's delightful exploration of cultural difference. Devoted fans and newcomers alike will thrill to this imaginative sci-fi confection.
Kind cultural exploration
I love the dignity and respect that this author uses when writing. Each character is a different species, but all are people.
A must-read extraordinary series
Found myself making excuses to avoid reading the last few chapters because the author had stated it was to be the last book of the series and I simply did not want the journey to end. Science fiction at its finest.
Heartwarming and interesting. A story about relationships and how interesting it is to meet people who are different from you.
We can live together and thrive BECAUSE we’re not the same. A wonderful story with great world building.