The Galaxy, and the Ground Within

The Galaxy, and the Ground Within (Wayfarers, #4)

by Becky Chambers
Published on April 20, 2021
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback Source: Owned

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.

I loved this author’s A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. Since then, I haven’t enjoyed her other books in the series as much. They’ve been good, but they haven’t lived up to the first book.

I’ve had this book for a while. I tried to read it previously and found it very slow going. The opening chapters do a lot of heavy lifting. She is introducing four sets of characters. Each are different alien species that need to be described. Through the whole book I did have some trouble keeping the characters straight in my mind. This was especially true with their physical descriptions. I’m not sure I really ever understood the physical designs of each of them fully.

I ended up putting this book aside for a long time. I picked it back up mainly out of a sense of duty. I’ve been wanting to chip away at the stacks of books I have here. This seemed like a good place to start. I’m glad I did.

The book got more interesting for me when the characters started to interact. They get stranded on the planet together with no communication to the outside world. Their host is trying to keep them fed and entertained. They all have their own anxieties about missing appointments and being cut off from family members. They start to come together – mainly out of boredom.

This is a good book to read if you are looking for minimal conflict. There isn’t an overall plot or conflict. It is just people stuck together for a few days with nothing to do but talk to each other and eat.

Eventually they learn more about each other and even start to care about each other. By the time they are able to leave the planet they have the type of bonds that you have with people you have been at summer camp with. You have gone on adventures together but are disparate people who would likely have never met in your real life. I was sad to see them go.