A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers

The basics

Title: A Closed and Common Orbit


Series: Wayfarers #2

- The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (2014)
- A Closed and Common Orbit (2016)
- Record of a Spaceborn Few (2018)
- The Galaxy and the Ground Within (2021)

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Goodreads Summary:

Lovelace was once merely a ship's artificial intelligence. When she wakes up in an new body, following a total system shut-down and reboot, she has no memory of what came before. As Lovelace learns to negotiate the universe and discover who she is, she makes friends with Pepper, an excitable engineer, who's determined to help her learn and grow.

Together, Pepper and Lovey will discover that no matter how vast space is, two people can fill it together.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet introduced readers to the incredible world of Rosemary Harper, a young woman with a restless soul and secrets to keep. When she joined the crew of the Wayfarer, an intergalactic ship, she got more than she bargained for - and learned to live with, and love, her rag-tag collection of crewmates.

Here is a spoiler summary of what happened in A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers to help refresh your memory before you read the sequel.

What happened in A Closed and Common Orbit?

  • Lovelace is now in a body kit and heading to Port Corial with Pepper. She’ll be staying with Pepper and her partner, Blue, for the foreseeable. She struggles with not being in the Linkings all the time.
  • We meet Jane, age 10. Jane cleans scrap for the Mothers, which are AI robots without faces. Jane is one of many Janes.
  • Lovelace chooses the name Sidra to go by instead. She starts working in Pepper’s shop.
  • One day, some scrap explodes in the factory and blows a hole in the wall. Jane gets a look at the sky outside, something she didn’t know about before. A few Janes die.
  • Curious, Jane takes Jane 64 to go with her to look at the hole that night. They’re spotted by the Mothers. One captures Jane 64, and Jane runs into the scrap heap. She’s chased by dogs, but she hears a voice guiding her to a ship which she can hide in. She meets Owl, the AI on the ship.
  • Sidra and co go to a Shimmerquick, an Aeluon fertility party. Sidra is fascinated by the drinks, by the dancing, and by the people. She meets a tattooist called Tak, who tells her about bot tattoos.
  • Pepper and Sidra argue about Sidra’s determination to download unnecessary files. Sidra feels she needs more memory, as she is quite limited at the moment. Pepper starts asking the forums about how to expand an AI’s memory bank.
  • Jane starts scavenging and bringing back the goods to fix Owl’s ship. Together they fix the water and various other systems.
  • Blue paints Sidra and it’s really lovely.
  • Owl starts teaching Jane about the planets, and uses the Big Bug Crew to teach Jane things like reading and maths and science.
  • Sidra goes to see Tak and asks if he can give her a tattoo. They discuss options, and Sidra leaves Tak to come up with something.
  • She later comes back and Tak starts tattooing her with a bot tattoo. She passes out when the bots interfere with her own kit. Pepper and Blue come to get her, and Tak is very unhappy.
  • Tak comes over to Pepper’s shop to talk to Sidra. They decide to be friends.
  • Jane is now a teenager. She and Owl argue a bit before Jane goes out for food. Jane gets stuck in a hole and breaks her leg. She struggles to get out, and she is watched by dogs, but she eventually makes it back to the ship.
  • Sidra and Tak go to a party. Sidra is having fun dancing when someone surprises her and her internal alarms go off. Sidra gets upset and they head home.
  • Sidra argues with Pepper because she wants to be attached to the Linkings. Pepper gets upset because Sidra insults her.
  • Jane finds the bones of two young girls, possibly Janes, but definitely girls who worked at the factory. She gives them a burial.
  • Sidra goes to speak to a tech, who gives her an idea about being able to change her own code.
  • Jane goes to the factory and runs into a man called Laurian. He’s some sort of security guard there, who watches the factory via cameras. The two of them come to an agreement that Jane will get Laurian out of there in exchange for fuel.
  • Sidra takes a course on AI mechanics, and with Tak’s help is able to change her honesty code. She no longer has to be honest to sapients.
  • Jane, Laurian, and Owl make it off the planet. They reach a lookout station and the ship is confiscated for violating lots of rules. Jane, thankfully, counts as a refugee, and is patched up by some doctors.
  • Pepper has been searching for Owl this whole time and finally receives word about her. Or the ship, at least. It’s in a museum.
  • Jane and Laurian are granted passage on a ship heading to Port Corial.
  • Sidra asks Tak to get them into the museum so they can rescue Owl, if she’s still in the ship. Tak is still technically a university student and should be allowed in.
  • On the way, Sidra puts herself into the ship and Pepper comes across the kit.
  • Jane talks to a Laru named Oouoh and tries to explain the situation she’s been in, but it seems very complicated. She tastes spices for the first time and tears up at the possibilities.
  • Sidra talks to Tak and Pepper. Sidra realises she does want to be in her body now.
  • They reach the museum, and Pepper finds the ship and the core. She’s not sure if Owl is still in there but believes she must be. She comes up with a plan that’ll probably get the others arrested. Sidra comes up with her own plan instead.
  • Sidra and Tak head to the museum and Sidra puts Owl into her own head. She reveals this to Pepper, who’s overjoyed.
  • One standard later, Sidra has opened her own bar called Home. She has some pet bots that she’s connected to, and she’s also able to speak to Owl directly. It’s really lovely and such a sweet ending, and Owl is finally able to hug Pepper through Sidra.

That’s what happened in A Closed and Common Orbit! Check out our recap list for more recaps. If you can’t find what you need, you can request a recap from us!

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