Another tragedy strikes, though the effects are felt on much more personal levels for some. Change is inevitable, but who will accept it?
Let’s discuss Record of a Spaceborn Few. Spoilers follow for Parts 2, 3 and 4.
Sawyer’s story comes to a rather abrupt end in these chapters… Were you surprised by his fate? And do you sympathise with his situation, or did he bring that on himself?
This is perhaps the one thread of this story that I remembered most clearly from my first reading, so I can’t say it surprised me this time. I do sympathise with him, although I have to admit I also spent much of the book so far shaking my head and wanting to yell at him for not seeing what he was getting himself into. But for all that he seemed sheltered and inexperienced, there was a sort of innocent wonder about him that I couldn’t help liking. It makes his death all the more tragic, and knowing what effects it will have, I can at least appreciate how well his story was handled – rather than making him merely a plot device or a two-dimensional catalyst for change with other characters, I did feel sympathy for him, because he felt very real to me.
It seems as though Tessa is considering leaving the Fleet with her family. Do you think she will? If so, do you think it’s the right call for her to make?
… This is a part of the story that my memory is fuzzy on – so much so that this development, however tentative it is right now, did surprise me compared to Sawyer’s fate on the Oxomoco. So I’m basically coming at this particular character arc almost fresh.
As for whether or not it might be the right call, that may depend on what happens next. We know that Tessa’s job might be in jeopardy if the option of automating processes where she works is pushed for, in which case leaving to find reliable work elsewhere might be a perfectly understandable option for Tessa. But it seems like she’s been considering this for a while anyway, which makes things more interesting…
Kip takes a big step forward in his personal growth after the smash incident, by taking to heart the feelings and the dignity of others instead of only thinking of himself. How much of this change in him do you think will stick, and what are your feelings about Ras after their ‘conversation’ about what to do?
I’ll be honest – I have very little patience for bratty teenagers, and until now Kip has mostly only rubbed me the wrong way with his behaviour. It’s understandable, and I absolutely sympathise with his restlessness and his craving for a more exciting life, but at the same time I see what happens here as a perfect example of the need to be careful what you wish for. But I definitely appreciate that he took the matter seriously and did the right thing, despite how scared he was. And … knowing vaguely what happens next for him, I’ll stop there to avoid spoilers. But it’s going to be good.
Ras, on the other hand … Yeah. No. His reaction, and his way of dealing with it, is also understandable – but it’s less forgivable, especially in light of the way Ras tends to dodge responsibility for his actions in general. I think Kip is better off not having that kind of ‘friend’ around in the long run.
Isabel and Eyas have also been presented with the possibility of significant change, in their respective stories within this story. Isabel has an opportunity to open doors for the Fleet within the larger galactic community, while Eyas finds herself opening up emotionally in ways she perhaps had never done before (with Sunny, and later when she grieves for Sawyer). What further changes do you see all of this bringing for their own community on the Asteria, and for the Fleet in general?
All of this touches on the larger theme of unavoidable change and what it can mean, for individuals and for societies as a whole, such as the Exodus Fleet. I know only too well how easy it can be to drift through life never really going anywhere, because you’re in a good (or at least a ‘safe’) place and you don’t want to upset the balance you’ve found. Change can be terrifying, so that general attitude of “what’s wrong with how we live?” is completely understandable. But, as we’ve now seen demonstrated, it can also breed fearful/hateful intolerance of anything that you don’t feel belongs, ie. anything that reminds you that there’s a world (or worlds) outside of yours that’s leaving you behind, in many ways. And this feels incredibly timely given our own current political climates.
It can either bring much-needed change, or it can bring more trouble, or both. But I’m not terribly worried about it in terms of this story because while the author is certainly not blind to the timely relevance of all this subject matter, she approaches her worlds and these people from a hopeful perspective, one that imagines we can be better than we are, and it helps a lot to keep that in mind. I think that whatever happens with or to Isabel and Eyas, and everyone else, ultimately they’re going to be fine.
Hope is a wonderful thing.