SciFi Month 2015

It’s the last week of the SciFi Month Read-Along of A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, which means spoilers a-go-go and all the feelings as we reach the climax. My heartfelt thanks to Over the Effin’ Rainbow for organising the Read-Along and hosting this last week – I’d been wanting to read this novel, and I’ve enjoyed every minute.

 

1. Let’s start with the Toremi, since we’ve waited this long to get to them! As we’ve been discussing for a while, we do get to learn more about the Toremi, about their culture and how they think and behave. In light of what happens when the Wayfarer reaches Hedra Ka, what’s your take on the Toremi now? Are the GC right to abandon their negotiations or could there have been a chance to make something of it?

Wow, the Toremi were interesting. A race who rely on consensus – where a difference of opinion is a killing issue. I honestly don’t see how that mentality (or indeed the barely-reined-back aggression) can play nicely in the GC. The New Mothers seem to be a bit more flexible, but I can’t really decide how much of that is an act – or what they really want (unless it really is just access to weapons to wipe out the other Toremi). I didn’t really feel that the GC’s decision to abandon negotiations felt like closure either – while I couldn’t really get my head around Toremi thinking, there’s a whole storyline about the social upheaval in progress around that Small Angry Planet…

2. A visit to a Solitary Sianat colony in “Heresy” provides a potential cure for Ohan’s illness, but they make it fairly clear they don’t want it – though there may be some debate about whether or not Ohan is in their right mind… Corbin takes matters into his own hands in that respect, and he does it in a crucial moment following the attack on the Wayfarer. Do you think Corbin did the right thing?

That carefully-stashed syringe was just awaiting the opportune moment, wasn’t it? In the circumstances, I don’t think Corbin had a choice – the good of the many vs the good of the few – but I felt that Ohan was under-served by the narrative. I would have liked to have seen more focus on how they/he coped with their/his new circumstances. It felt a little rushed to a positive conclusion, when surely it must have been incredibly difficult for them/him.

3. Ohan survives the attack on the ship, but Lovey (as we know her) doesn’t. Were you at all prepared for what happened to the AI? And in light of all that, do you think Pepper’s offered solution was the right one?

I… wasn’t very happy with this outcome. Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t reduce my enjoyment of the novel, but I couldn’t help but think that if they’d gone ahead with the body kit then Lovey would have survived. She might have been a fragment of herself, a bit like Breq in Ancillary Mercy, but the surge presumably wouldn’t have wiped out the bit of her in the body kit. So to lose her completely – and then have Lovelace swan off in the body kit – feels like a triple slap in the face for poor Jenks. I mean, yes, it’s probably better for him not to have to live with Lovelace, but still. Ouch. I’m also a little wary that Pepper was all judgmental about Jenks and Lovey taking such a big step (her whole speech about the consequences of creating new forms of life), but it’s fine if she does it. I have to think this – and the Toremi – are both being set up for a sequel (which I can’t wait to read).

4. This one is less of a “thinky” question and more of a “wrap up” one, but I’m curious for your answers – now that we’ve finished the story, what scenes/moments do you remember best as your favourites, if any?

The episodic structure of the story (and the Firefly vibe) made the novel feel a lot like a season of great tv, so my first thought is that I can’t wait for season 2. But highlights from season 1 definitely include Sissix struggling to type with cold fingers and Kizzy singing her own lyrics. They’ve both stayed with me, as has Kizzy’s heroic sequence saving Pei’s ship – and their conversation about courage. I didn’t expect to like Kizzy as much as I did in the end (although I’m still firmly a cheerleader for Team Sissix).