It was actually so refreshing for me to read a piece of modern Science Fiction like this that feels so much like a throwback to Star Trek without being a rip off. Star Trek is one of my great loves, I adore how it delved deeply into political controversies and made speculations about human existence. Star Trek has a very special place in my heart because it truly did go where no show had gone before (haha, see what I did there). It's novels like this that really stand out to me for the same reasons.
This is essentially the story of a diverse space tunneling crew, their job being to punch wormholes into space. The crew of The Wayfarer is a hodgepodge of different species and temperaments. This book takes off when Rosemary, a sheltered files clerk with a secret to keep, comes aboard.
I was just so interested in the world Becky Chambers created here. Each character felt so genuine I was honestly floored by how much I enjoyed them all individually. She developed a pretty thorough history for each of these species, elaborated on the fate of mankind and how it was this new way of life came to be, and peppered the whole story with a quirkiness that I found very charming. Lots of the tech-talk I love was present without feeling like operating these future systems is out of your depth.
Plus! This was a very socially conscious book!
It touches on pronouns and pronoun training, racism and "specism" conflicts, polyamory, sexual orientation, gender identification, the rights and individuality of artificial intelligence, biochemical warfare, overpopulation, the legality of cloning, the dangers of religious fanaticism ALL IN ONE BOOK! And it does so without feeling like it's shoving any of these concepts down your throat, it exists seamlessly as part of this new future.
I only gave this one a 4 stars because, while I enjoyed the shit out of all the characters, there wasn't really a PLOT going on. I mean, this is how the book was intended to be written. There was a minor goal that surfaced about halfway into the book, but for the most part this was a series of small adventures aboard the Wayfarer. So while it was fun, I think there were times I found myself struggling just a little with staying engaged. I also felt like the book jumped around a lot with it's 3rd person perspectives, which was a wee bit confusing at times.
But neither of these two issues really detract a ton from this book. It was excellent and I would definitely recommend for people who love science fiction, especially if you're a Star Trek fan!