If there’s one trope I love across all forms of media, it’s “a group of misfits comes together to do a thing.” It’s a reason I love heist movies, and it’s also a reason I’m a fan of that sci-fi sub-genre “small crew on a spaceship takes on a galaxy.” It’s why I’m drawn to books like THE LONG WAY TO A SMALL, ANGRY PLANET and FORTUNE’S PAWN. Why do I love these so much?
It’s A Family
Although the group of people may or may not start out liking each other, by the end of the book you have a group of people who have each other’s backs no matter what. They know each other’s tics and foibles and are there to catch each other when they stumble. The best feeling usually comes in book two of such a series, because YOU know the tics and foibles of the crew members as well as they do, so your heart does a little pitter patter when you see them protect one another. Eventually, it’s a family you are a part of as well – you’re a surrogate parent to this motley gang.
Everyone Has a Place
So you can do complex navigational calculations in your sleep, but have no social skills? You’re an ace gunner but can’t go to that one planet because of that one incident? You can fix a hyperdrive with a paperclip and a piece of gum, but blanch at the sight of blood? Sounds like you’re just right for a crew! The best “crew in a space ship” stories are ones that celebrates the differences of their members. Every person is one piece of a puzzle – oddly shaped on its own, but part of a cohesive and strong whole when fit with the right pieces. Everyone has a place on the ship and has their own way to contribute. When you aren’t good at something, someone else is there to pick up the slack. But when it comes to your area of expertise, everybody else knows to stand aside. That’s not to say there won’t be disagreements from time to time. But at the end of the day, the ship runs best when each person shines.
So Many More Opportunities for Stories
You can get a lot of mileage out of one character and their backstory, but imagine what a good author can do with five. Another great reason to love THE LONG WAY TO A SMALL, ANGRY PLANET is how many of the crew members get their own chunk of the narrative to explore stories personal to them. It’s an avenue into finding out more about other races and cultures and to see life from their point of view.
I’ve gushed enough, so tell me, do you have a favorite sci-fi crew you like to spend time with?