In the Galactic Commons, humanity is a
minor player. The human species is one of the younger, less respected members, and
are despised for their almost total success at killing off the Earth. The Wayfarer,
a patched-up ship that’s seen better days, makes its living by creating
wormholes that connect one stellar system to another. Its crew is diverse: the
owner, Captain Ashby, is human, as are crewbeings Corbin, Jenks, and Kizzy.
Sissix is a reptilian Aandrisk, Dr. Chef is a Grum and Ohan is a Sianat Pair, a
symbiotic being. Rounding out the crew is the ship’s AI, a sentient
computer programme, named Lovelace, but mostly called Lovey. As the book opens,
they are joined by Rosemary Harper, a seemingly insignificant but competent
clerk from Mars.
When Rosemary joins the crew of the Wayfarer,
she isn’t expecting much. The Wayfarer offers her everything she could
possibly want: a small, quiet spot to call home for a while, adventure in
far-off corners of the galaxy, and distance from her troubled past. She has
secrets she desperately wants to keep, but she soon discovers that she is not
the only person on board with secrets and tragedies; her problems are not even
close to being the worst.
The crew are offered the job of a lifetime:
the chance to build a hyperspace tunnel to a distant planet. They’ll earn
enough money to live comfortably for years… if they survive the long trip
through war-torn interstellar space without endangering any of the fragile
alliances that keep the galaxy peaceful.
subtly takes up issues such as humankinds mistakes, which in the book resulted
in almost killing of the Earth. But also issues like racism,
or inter-species racism, are threaded throughout the book. And there is also a
subtle feminist slant: there are strong female characters, and other touches,
such as the AI being named after Ada Lovelace the first, or the revelation that
it was a woman who first set on Mars.
But as we journey along with the Wayfarer’s
crew we see that the story is about a family that comes together on one tiny
starship on one small mission to a planet far out in the middle of deep space. The
novel is focused on the development of the various characters, the uncovering
of secrets, issues of racism, and their response to crises