The blurb: Lovelace was once merely a ship’s artificial intelligence. When she wakes up in an new body, following a total system shut-down and reboot, she has no memory of what came before. As Lovelace learns to negotiate the universe and discover who she is, she makes friends with Pepper, an excitable engineer, who’s determined to help her learn and grow.
Together, Pepper and Lovey will discover that no matter how vast space is, two people can fill it together.
I enjoyed the first Wayfarers book – A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (ALWTASAP) – last year and was looking forward to picking up the next in the series.
Readers expecting a “straightforward” sequel, featuring all the same characters as book 1, might be disappointed. A Closed and Common Orbit is set in the same universe as book 1 and the two main characters did feature briefly in the first installment, but that’s it. I’d say that this is more an excellent stand-alone follow-up than a sequel.
However, while ALWTASAP drew its strength from a large cast of diverse characters, this book is just as strong while focussing on two. So this time we have more of the same colourful universe as a fascinating backdrop, but get to spend more quality time with a smaller cast.
The book is also quietly philosophical and, like all the best sci-fi, the alien is used to explore what it is to be human.
There are two story strands – past and present – which are intertwined delicately so that details we have already seen in the present sections gradually take on greater significance, delighting us as we gain more insight into Pepper’s character and come to understand her motivations. This interplay continues until the past at last catches up with the present in the final few chapters to bring the story and the main characters’ struggles to a satisfying conclusion.
I thought this book was brilliant. I can’t wait to see what’s coming next in book 3.
Overall: another great story from a wonderful writer with boundless imagination.
Claire Huston / Art and Soul