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review 2017-07-03 23:36
A CLOSED AND COMMON ORBIT by BECKY CHAMBERS
A Closed and Common Orbit (Wayfarers) - Becky Chambers

Audiobook>

So this is about the reset of Lovey/Lovelace and how Pepper helps her out and it's also flashbacks of how Pepper and Blue met and the AI "Owl" that helped them out. I couldn't figure out if Sidra would change or keep herself the same - she couldn't figure out what she wanted. But I loved the ending with Owl and how that turned out great. 

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review 2017-05-25 06:50
AI and a former slave
A Closed and Common Orbit - Becky Chambers

I’m divided about this science-fiction novel. It consists of two distinct storylines with alternating chapters that don’t intersect until the very end. They even happen decades apart. I loved one of the stories. I was ambivalent about the other.

Let’s start with the one I liked less: the story of Sidra, an AI in a synthetic, human-looking body. She calls it her housing or her kit. Sidra didn’t chose to be housed in the kit. She is an AI intended for a spaceship. She longs to be in a spaceship. But due to tragic circumstances before this story started, someone put her into the kit, and she is trying to adjust to life as a quasi-human.

Her situation is complicated by the fact that such constructs are illegal. If the authorities find out that Sidra, who tries to live like a human, is actually a software, they will terminate her and punish those who made her that way: Sidra’s friends. To prevent such an eventuality, Sidra’s only solution is to pretend. Unfortunately, an AI couldn’t lie – there is a protocol in place. Yeah, tough.

Sidra’s story left me cold. I couldn’t sympathize with her imaginary plight. I was a computer programmer before I became a writer. I dealt with software every day. Not an AI though; I programmed accounting software, but there is not much difference. A soft is still a soft, a complicated system of code that is just a non-linear, nested sequence of multiple ‘if-then’ interspaced with bits of action. It can’t develop emotions. I don’t believe it. So when Sidra started behaving like a hormonal teenager, exhibiting rebellion and self-disgust, I wanted to puke.

The only thing I liked about Sidra’s subplot is world-building. Ms. Chambers started building this complex cosmopolitan world in the first novel of the series – The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet – and I enjoyed it very much. She deepens her world-building here, gives us more details, more nuances, and more planets. 

The second story, the one I liked best, happens in an entirely different part of this galactic world, on a different planet. It is a much better story with a very likable heroine. It starts when a ten-year-old girl Jane escapes a factory.

She worked at the factory as one of a cadre of girls, all Janes, all numbered. Our Jane’s number is 24. She doesn’t know what is outside the factory walls. She only knows work – sorting scrap – and a little bit of free time for eating, sleeping, and personal hygiene. None of the Janes knows how to play or be children. Trapped inside the four factory walls since they were toddlers, they have never seen the sky or the sun. They have never made any choices – never been allowed. They are slaves without knowing it.

When Jane escapes – practically by accident – she finds herself alone in a hostile world, a humongous scrap yard with no humans. Everywhere around her are things new and frightening. By sheer luck, she finds a disabled space shuttle, discarded as scrap years ago. The shuttle’s AI is still functional, and Jane makes her home in it. Together, a ten-year-old girl and a broken machine form a family of sorts, while Jane learns about the real world around her and tries to keep herself from starving to death.

A Mowgli of science fiction, to a degree, with a computer for a foster mother, Jane’s story is a continual saga of self-discovery. It touched my heart on the deepest levels. I was so sorry for her and so awed by her courage and determination that I wanted to talk to her, to explain, to kiss and make better. This child made me ache for her. I was reading and simultaneously inventing better solutions for her problems. I wanted her life to be easier, but it wasn’t. It was hard and intense and imbued with Jane’s humanity. Her story alone makes this book worth reading.

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review 2017-04-21 07:32
A Closed and Common Orbit
A Closed and Common Orbit (Wayfarers) - Becky Chambers

I’ve written and deleted an opening paragraph for this review at least five times. It’s funny how I’m almost never at a loss to articulate my dissatisfaction . . . and then when I feel like no amount of gushing would be too effusive, I can’t find the words. Maybe I’ll come back and try again later, but even after letting the story marinate and the afterglow fade a little, every attempt to express why I loved this book turns into a super spoilery Becky Chambers love fest.

 

So instead I’ll just say I loved this book and its characters and their stories and all the feelings they gave me and all the lumps in my throat that I had trouble swallowing. From this day forward, if Chambers writes it, I’m probably going to buy it. In hardcover.

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text 2017-03-28 17:43
2016 Year in Review
A Closed and Common Orbit (Wayfarers) - Becky Chambers
The Obelisk Gate - N.K. Jemisin
The Countess Conspiracy - Courtney Milan
Midnight Taxi Tango - Daniel José Older
White Trash Zombie Gone Wild - Diana Rowland
The Liberation (The Alchemy Wars) - Ian ... The Liberation (The Alchemy Wars) - Ian Tregillis
Babylon's Ashes - James S.A. Corey
The Core of the Sun - Johanna Sinisalo
The Fifth Season - N.K. Jemisin,Robin Miles
The Winged Histories: a novel - Sofia Samatar

Last year, I failed to do any summary posts about what I had read in 2015. I think I just kept putting it off until it was so late in the year that it seemed not worth the bother. Of course, I see so many "best books of the year" posts in November of the year in discussion that sometimes January seems like it is too late. So March isn't even that late, really.

 

My breakdown of the 76 "books" I finished in 2016:

anthologies: 1
collections: 0
Adult novels: 41
YA novels: 5
MG novels: 13
graphic novels: 1
art book: 0
comic omnibus: 11
magazine issues: 0
children's books: 2
nonfiction: 2

Of those 76, only 20 were published in 2016. I abandoned 3 titles without finishing. I also counted Final Formula as 1 book even though it was 2 novels and a short, and decided to consider the serial box stories an anthology instead of individual books. 
 
I did read some other miscellaneous short fiction in various magazines, but I don't shelve magazines unless I'm reviewing the issue. And I don't shelve individual stories because I am lazy.
 
Across all categories:
  Written by Women: 55 (72%, up from 2014)
  Written by POC's: 13 (17%, down from 2014)
  Written by Transgender authors: 1 (1%)
  Written by Non-binary authors: 1 (1%)
 
I'm a bit unhappy with how little of my reading was by POC's, both because it was a decrease from last time I checked, and because if I counted unique authors, I'd have even fewer. Apparently 2016 was the year I read lots of white ladies. I added 2 new demographic categories, which I know I'll need for the 2017 counts as well. I included the 1 transgender author in both that category and in the category she self identifies as. 
 
My favorite book from 2016 was A Closed and Common Orbit (Wayfarers) - Becky Chambers, just barely edging out The Obelisk Gate - N.K. Jemisin and The Core of the Sun - Johanna Sinisalo because I needed comfort more than truth. All the novels I rated 5 stars are included in the ribbon. My favorite new-to-me writers were Noelle Stevenson and Daniel José Older, who both write awesome women.
 
I reviewed 72 titles read in 2016. That has to be a new high for me, even with the website issues here at BL.
 
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text 2017-03-21 13:31
Reading progress update: I've read 56 out of 332 pages.
A Closed and Common Orbit (Wayfarers) - Becky Chambers

"And seriously, anybody working in a job that doesn´t let you take a nap when you need to should get a new job."

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