Title: Record of a Spaceborn Few
Author: Becky Chambers
Series: Wayfarers #3
Genre: Science Fiction
Narrator: Rachel Dulude
Length: 12 hours (368 pages)
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release Date: July 24, 2018
Content Warnings: death, grief, drug use, bullying
Centuries after the last humans left Earth, the Exodus Fleet is a living relic, a place many are from but few outsiders have seen. Humanity has finally been accepted into the galactic community, but while this has opened doors for many, those who have not yet left for alien cities fear that their carefully cultivated way of life is under threat.
Tessa chose to stay home when her brother Ashby left for the stars, but has to question that decision when her position in the Fleet is threatened.
Kip, a reluctant young apprentice, itches for change but doesn’t know where to find it.
Sawyer, a lost and lonely newcomer, is just looking for a place to belong.
When a disaster rocks this already fragile community, those Exodans who still call the Fleet their home can no longer avoid the inescapable question:
What is the purpose of a ship that has reached its destination?
Becky Chambers continues to write futuristic science fiction in a way that feels like home. This third installment in the Wayfarers series focuses on the Exodus Fleet, descendants of the last humans to leave Earth still living in a mostly insular community centuries later. The story follows slices of life for various members of this community with different ages, jobs, hopes, and dreams to show how much humanity has changed and stayed the same.
While this is a wonderfully written book, it was my least favorite in the series so far. I understand Chambers’s intentions with the storytelling approach, but it didn’t work as well for me because I didn’t form as strong of emotional connections to the characters. What I loved most about the previous two books are the found families comprised of diverse sentient begins. In Record, we see very few non-human characters, and the POV characters’ storylines are mostly separate throughout the book, with few intersections until the end. I really missed a found family here. I think Becky Chambers succeeded in telling the story she wanted to tell…it just wasn’t the story I wanted to hear based on my expectations of this series.
Still, I absolutely love how much this series makes me reflect on what it means to be human and what responsibilities we have to ourselves and humankind as a whole. The best science fiction helps you understand the here and now through a futuristic lens. I could read so many more books in this universe and never grow tired of exploring every facet of life; I can’t believe there’s only one more book in this series!