“I deeply appreciate Chambers’ science fiction, and I really enjoyed this novel. Quiet, kind, character-driven books are wonderfully restful. Delightfully soothing.”
NO MAJOR SPOILERS
Humans have abandoned a dying Earth and for generations have travelled through space in their homesteader spacecraft searching for a new life. They come into contact with a collection of other life forms and agree to join them in a galactic council. The humans fleet settles around a sun and most still live in the space craft they their ancestors have lived and travelled in.
The story revolves around five characters, Tessa, a mother of two children. Isabel, an archivist for the fleets memories. Eyas, a caretaker which is someone that looks after the dead. Kip, a teenager that finds himself at odds with the fleet rules and Sawyer, an orphan from a human colonised planet looking for something new.
This is such an interesting read on so many levels. Firstly the way communities have come to live together in peace and harmony, it is almost utopian. No one has much but everyone is housed, fed and works. All work is done in return for the community and everyone has jobs they want to do. Those jobs that no one wants is then allocated by lottery and everyone does short stints. Everyone is equal no matter their job status, you do the job either because you want to or because it is the best thing you are good at.
As in all human societies, death is a part of life and the way that bodies are disposed of is quite ingenious. Due to the lack of dirt, or only having limited supplies of it, bodies are composted. Once composted the remains are reused as compost for growing new food. It might be against what we commonly believe but when you have limited supplies of minerals and fertiliser, this is a very economic way of producing food. It is another way of helping the community survive and continue and is another way of paying back for everything the community has provided in life.
There is so much more as well but the best way to discover it is to read the book, which I highly recommend.
Added 6th November 2018