SciFi Month Read-along: Discussion Questions for Week 2

Hello! Here are the discussion questions for week two of the SciFi Month read-along, covering “Attempted Repairs” to “Compound System Failure”:


  1. Each of Ouloo’s three guests is in a predicament: Speaker is separated from her sister, Roveg is potentially going to be late for his appointment, and Pei has begun her shimmer… What do you make of these small crises? And any predictions for how things might turn out for our travellers?


  1. Do you have any thoughts to share on the GC’s treatment of the Akarak people?


  1. Let’s talk about Tupo’s Natural History Museum. Actually, let’s talk about Tupo more generally – what are your feelings about the adolescent Laru?


  1. Chambers is very good at capturing small but meaningful moments. Do you have any favourites so far?


  1. And for those readers who are new to the Wayfarers universe, what do you make of Chambers’ storytelling style here?


  1. Plus, anything else you’d like to talk about, obvs!


That’s it. I’ll be posting my answers at the weekend (probably Sunday), and I look forward to reading everyone else’s thoughts.


The read-along schedule can be found over at Dear Geek Place, and week one’s questions also, (because it’s never too late to join in!) and Lisa will be asking the questions for the final section next week too.




  1. Hello! I’ve not organised myself enough to read along on my own blog so here are my responses:

    1. The predicaments. I’ve read this novel before (though I still can’t remember what Roveg’s appointment is!!) so I know how (some) of these turn out.

    2. GC’s treatment of the Akaraks. This is obviously horrific, but I have to admit that I found the Akarak plotline frustrating. They feel too idealised to me – both Speaker as a character and her species as a whole. Chambers is usually so good at showing how all the species she depicts are both sinned against and sinning, that this moral simplicity did not really work for me. I do wonder if she made this decision about the marginalisation of the Akaraks to retcon why they don’t feature in any of the earlier novels. I appreciate that she is speaking to the oppression of certain communities in the real world here, but it felt too heavy-handed.

    3. Tupo. Well, you asked, and I have Thoughts… copying over my rant from Week 1.

    My least favourite thing about this novel is the portrayal of Tupo. I was already frustrated in Record of a Spaceborn Few that Chambers seems to assume that the experience and treatment, and hence the behaviour, of human adolescents would remain exactly the same in an entirely different cultural context. This is even worse, because she implies that adolescence itself is exactly the same across alien species, while playing into some pretty negative stereotypes of teenagers. She’s so good at deconstructing gender and sexuality, so I don’t know why age is such a blind spot. Argh.

    Having said that, this second re-read section is a little better than the first. It doesn’t answer my concerns but I liked the discussion about how chronological age is different across species.

    4. Small but meaningful moments. I totally agree but I can’t think of any! I liked Roveg’s kindness to Tupo in the Natural History Museum scene. Also when Pei connects with Ouloo over their very different understandings of motherhood.

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    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts! 🙂

      Glad I’m not the only one who’s a bit side-eye about the Akaraks and the GC – it’s been bothering me some. Hadn’t thought of it from a retcon angle though, and that makes a lot of sense to me. I do really like Speaker’s character though.

      Tupo kind of irritates me a bit, but I hadn’t thought about how typical xyr adolescence is, and now that you’ve pointed it out I can’t unsee it. 😆 Agreed that the discussion about age across species was interesting/cool.

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      • Glad we’re on the same page here! I don’t dislike Speaker but I feel like the only character who really engaged me in this book was Pei (which sounds like I didn’t enjoy the book, and I did…)

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