Read-along: The Galaxy, and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers (week 1)


As we are celebrating ten years of SciFi Month this year – an event that has introduced me to some truly awesome online friends – it feels perfect that for this year’s read-along we are tackling the concluding volume of Becky Chambers’ Wayfarers series. If the Wayfarers books are about anything they’re about people of all kinds coming together, making friends, and learning new ways of seeing the world. Which is totally what SciFi Month is also about (for me, at least).

This is a three week read-along and you can find the schedule here at Dear Geek Place. This first week’s prompts have also been provided by Lisa – so let’s crack on!

(Oh, also, SPOILERS, ‘kay?)


Week 1: Prologue “Opening Hours” up to Part 4 “Attempted Repairs”

For those readers who are returning to this universe, or who have at least read The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet: Are you enjoying the chance to get to know Captain Tem better?

Absolutely yes! While I admit that I don’t remember a great deal about The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet (cue an imminent reread) I do remember Pei and Ashby’s relationship and its clandestine nature (because interspecies relations are frowned on by the Aeluons? Is that a memory, or have we just read that? Sheesh … my brain sometimes!). I was very taken with the Aeluons (I was, am and always shall be very taken with all Chambers’ aliens), and with their colour language and their need for implanted talkboxes to communicate with noisier species. As someone who finds noise very quickly overwhelming (yep, don’t do concerts or gatherings, hate loud music and lots of people talking all at once), and thinks visually, I love the idea of a silent, visual language that revolves around colour. Perfect. When it all becomes too much, you can just close your eyes *wistful sigh*.

I also love all the effort Ouloo has put into making the Five-Hop welcoming to as many species as possible. Keeping the colours toned down for Aeluon sensitivities, paving the paths for Harmagian carts, heating the habitat dome to a temperature that strikes a happy medium for most people. It says a lot.


Is there a character in particular that you find especially interesting?

I am completely and utterly fascinated by Speaker (and Tracker, but mostly Speaker). I don’t think we’ve come across the Akarak before in the previous Wayfarers books, so the sisters are already new and interesting, but I also lovelovelove that Speaker’s skills are in interspecies communication. This is absolutely my jam! And I’m equally mesmerised by her being a little beaked sloth creature (this is how I’m picturing the Akarak – don’t burst my bubble, please), that no one is sure how to interact with. Speaker seems to be met with not-quite-suspicion-but-nearly from everyone, and the prevailing image of Akaraks as pirates who don’t respect property is curious, and I suspect, wrong. I want to know absolutely everything about Speaker and her people. And I want her to find friends here on Gora because I’m worried about her (she feels very lonely to me).


Do you have any thoughts on what the “appointment” is that has Roveg so anxious to leave in time?

I’m really not sure. The blurb says it’s a family appointment, so I’m thinking maybe child(ren), but that’s making a lot of assumptions about his age and when he might have been exiled. I don’t feel like I have enough information about Roveg yet, really. Knowing he’s an outcast from his society doesn’t help much as I don’t remember anything about the Quelin from the previous books. I’m thinking, though, that whatever this appointment is, it may be the only chance Roveg gets to see whoever he’s going to see.


And, because it’s been brought up by aliens: how do YOU feel about cheese? (And about that scene?)

This whole scene had me howling! I’ve never thought about cheese in this way and I love this kind of outside perspective on commonplace things, especially when it’s done for laughs. (There’s a comedian, Jim Gaffigan, who does a whole skit on camping that I find hilarious for this same reason). It’s also a beautiful scene where they’ve all found something that they feel similarly about – a serendipitous bonding moment.

So yeah, I love everything about this scene, from the increasing incredulity with which the group reacts to each new fact about cheese and its production, to the different noises everyone makes to show disgust. It’s genius.

For the record, I am very fond of cheese (although I’m feeling somewhat sheepish about that right now). I’m a vegetarian who has tried to go vegan several times, and cheese has always been the stumbling block. I could give up milk and cream entirely without much bother, but a pizza with no cheese is not a pizza, and just what would I put on my crackers?



I look forward to reading everyone else’s thoughts!




  1. I’m with you on cheese on a pizza. When Mrs B and I were first married we went to a church convention (7th Day Adventists as an organization are vegetarians and promote that lifestyle) where the weekend topic was veganism. At the time I had no idea what that even meant. So they had a vegan meal friday night. I was looking at everything and nothing looked familiar or even appetizing to me until I saw mac and cheese. Little did I know it was “vegan” mac and cheese. So I took a HUUUUGE bowl because I was hungry and there was nothing else for me. Imagine my reaction upon that first bite. It was so revolting that I couldn’t even react. I had to take another bite to even figure out what in the world was going on. I made it through about 5 bites before I had to quit and just surreptitiously throw it away. After that, I was very aware of the difference between vegetarian and vegan, hahaahahahahaa 😀

    I totally respect those who can eat vegan, but it is simply not ever going to be for me.

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  2. I agree about Speaker! Poor wee soul, I really want the others to put their prejudice aside (or at least recognise it for what it is) and get to know her – the inner monologue about how frustrated she gets because she makes all this effort to understand others, and people don’t even bother to learn the most basic facts about her kind, really hit me in the feelings.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! I don’t quite understand why, when the GC generally seems quite accepting, Speaker and her kind are looked on with … whatever that side-eye is and means. 🤔


  3. It was so nice getting to know PEi better. Her bittersweet ruminations about Ashby and her struggle with how (or even if) to reveal that relationship to her crew and others really had my heartstrings. The Aeluon color communicating is so fascinating…

    I loved the cheese scene too. Hilarious. And pretty spot on when you think about it. Which is what i love about these books- she has a way of making us look at things we sometimes take for granted. I’m the same way with cheese- have tried to go vegan but cheese- hard to give up. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! I love how Chambers gives us a different angle on things. That, and her aliens, are my favourite things about the Wayfarers books. 😃


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