Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Read-Along: Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers, Part 2

It’s time for the second post in the read-along of Becky Chambers’s Record of a Spaceborn Few.  This post will cover parts 2-4, so beware of spoilers up to there!  A lot happened this time, and I am now no longer expecting any kind of traditional overarching plot. This is entirely a slice-of-life story about living in the Exodan Fleet.  Now, on to the questions:

Sawyer's story comes to a rather abrupt end in these chapters... Were you surprised by his fate? And do you sympathise with his situation, or did he bring that on himself?

I did not see it coming in the slightest.  Even after the narrative said he had died, I thought maybe he was just unconscious, until Kip and his friend overheard about the disposal of his body.  He was a perspective character! They’re supposed to be safe! I feel bad for Sawyer, so yes I did sympathize with him. 

As for how he died, Oats should really have considered that Sawyer was from a planet.  He didn’t have the same kinds of instincts drilled into him as people who grew up in spaceships.  He was upset, and stressed, and I think it was reasonable that he didn’t consider the danger posed by a sealed door in vacuum.  His crew should have taken care of him, and they didn’t.

In general, though, I did see that he was headed for trouble.  The “salvage crew” he joined was really obviously shady, and he just blew past every warning.  “We like to keep our postings off the lists”, the pinhole drive, how the parameters of the job started changing once he could no longer back out.  I expected him to end up arrested, and Eyas would have to speak for him. At the very least, I’m glad she was there to identify him, and to grieve for him.    

It seems as though Tessa is considering leaving the Fleet with her family. Do you think she will? If so, do you think it's the right call for her to make?

Is she? I didn’t pick up that she was making concrete plans, but I could have missed it. I can see how the destruction of the other ship might make one reconsider life in the fleet. Other than that, the fleet seems like a good place, but I also get the sense that it won’t be around forever. 

Kip takes a big step forward in his personal growth after the smash incident, by taking to heart the feelings and the dignity of others instead of only thinking of himself. How much of this change in him do you think will stick, and what are your feelings about Ras after their 'conversation' about what to do?

I don’t think Kip is a bad kid at all, just easily swayed by people who make poor decisions. Ras is not a good friend, but it’s going to be up to Kip to realize that.  It must be frustrating for his parents to be able to see that, and also know that they can’t make Kip realize he has a bad friend. It might help that Kip is going to get Ras into major trouble about this, if he comes fully clean about the smash.  Their friendship may not survive. Regardless, I think these two incidents together might be enough to help him learn how to stand firm against peer pressure.

Isabel and Eyas have also been presented with the possibility of significant change, in their respective stories within this story. Isabel has an opportunity to open doors for the Fleet within the larger galactic community, while Eyas finds herself opening up emotionally in ways she perhaps had never done before (with Sunny, and later when she grieves for Sawyer). What further changes do you see all of this bringing for their own community on the Asteria, and for the Fleet in general?

I feel like what Eyas needs is a private life.  Part of her loneliness, and her feeling of incompleteness in her career, is simply that there is a large part of herself that has no place in her life.  If she had people to go home to, who expected “Eyas the person” and not “Eyas the caretaker”, I think that would relieve some of her dissatisfaction. I feel like that’s what she’s doing, in her kind-of-relationship with Sunny.  He is helping her by creating a place in her life where she can be herself. Maybe she’ll find a way to build that outside of a tryst club.

Isabel’s story might involve a much more dramatic change for the fleet.  I think that the interest that Ghuh’loloan’s bringing to the fleet will ultimately be a good thing.  There are issues with the fleet that need to be addressed, and it’s good that the benefactors want to meet with fleet members to find out what and how.  I hope the end result is positive!


  1. Oh gosh you're so right about Eyas. Sunny gives her that space to just be herself, to be a person not a role - and it's such a big gap in her life. I find it sort of interesting that we don't ever see her at home though. Surely her hex should be a safe space? But I guess she's still alone once she closes the door, and she's clearly feeling it.

    I'm absolutely with you on your assessment of Oats and of Kip/Ras. Kip is a good kid - Ras is a terrible influence. Sheesh.

    1. I was kind of wondering about her hex life. I don't remember much about her neighborhood ever being discussed.