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The Galaxy and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers #BookReview

With no water, no air, and no native life, the planet Gora is unremarkable. The only thing it has going for it is a chance proximity to more popular worlds, making it a decent stopover for ships traveling between the wormholes that keep the Galactic Commons connected. If deep space is a highway, Gora is just your average truck stop.

At the Five-Hop One-Stop, long-haul spacers can stretch their legs (if they have legs, that is), and get fuel, transit permits, and assorted supplies. The Five-Hop is run by an enterprising alien and her sometimes helpful child, who work hard to provide a little piece of home to everyone passing through.

When a freak technological failure halts all traffic to and from Gora, three strangers—all different species with different aims—are thrown together at the Five-Hop. Grounded, with nothing to do but wait, the trio—an exiled artist with an appointment to keep, a cargo runner at a personal crossroads, and a mysterious individual doing her best to help those on the fringes—are compelled to confront where they’ve been, where they might go, and what they are, or could be, to each other.

The Galaxy and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers  book cover

Title: The Galaxy and the Ground Within | Author: Becky Chambers | Series: Wayfarers #4 | Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton | Pub. Date: 18 February 2021 | Pages: 400 | ISBN: 9781473647664 | Genre: Science Fiction | Language: English | Starred Review: Yes | Source: Publisher

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The Galaxy and the Ground Within Review

Anyone who has been following my reviews here for any length of time will know that I love Becky Chambers’ books. That’s love all in capitals with a heart for the O and squiggly lines drawn around it with a glitter pen. In fact my second review for Sci Fi & Scary way back in summer 2018 was for one of her books. Dear Diary, I gave it five stars because her words make me swoon. I’m giving this latest one five stars too because it’s just as beautiful and life affirming as all the rest.

‘The Galaxy and the Ground Within’ is the fourth (and sadly, last) of Chambers’ ‘Wayfarers’ series. Like the previous three books, it’s wonderfully gentle, character-driven science fiction. These are books about what it is to be human, which is ironic as there are no human characters in it. Chambers has created a phenomenally convincing and vibrant universe in the books, and this book provides a satisfying conclusion, rounding off some themes that have persisted throughout the series.The

The book is set on at a stopover point on a small planet at the nexus of the several intergalactic spaceways. When a disaster means no-one can enter or leave the planet, the owner of the waystation and her child find themselves with unexpected long stay guest in the form of a number of travellers of different alien species.

The plot is limited and the book often feels more like some kind of futuristic soap opera than it does a traditional sci fi novel. If that sounds like a criticism it isn’t meant to, this is speculative fiction of the highest order. Chambers uses her impressive imagination to write about topics that impact every one of us on a daily basis. Sexuality, identity, cultural prejudices, the weight of history. All are covered here and covered brilliantly. It’s a warm, funny, sad, beautiful work that entertains while it informs. If you’ve never read Becky Chambers books, then please do, you won’t regret it.

You can purchase a copy of this book via your normal retailer, but please consider purchasing it from a local indie bookshop instead. It can be found here at Indiebound or at Bookshop. Please note the Bookshop link is an affiliate link and each purchase you make through it helps to support Sci-Fi & Scary and keep the site running.

Published inScience Fiction Book ReviewsStarred Reviews


  1. We are of one mind on this! I think it’s a study of lockdown, too. Interesting, because I’m sure Ms Chambers wrote it (or at least the guts of it) before lockdown hit the dictionary. Added my review to Amazon five minutes ago!

    • Olly_C

      That’s an interesting observation and one that hadn’t occurred to me!

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