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    Becky Chambers on the new illustrations for The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet.

    Olivia Rutigliano

    February 16, 2024, 3:59pm

    The Folio Society has just released a special edition of Becky Chambers’s Hugo-Award-winning novel, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. New illustrations were commissioned from the artist Zoë van Dijk.

    Becky Chambers and Folio shared with us her first impressions of this stunning new volume of her work and some of van Dijk’s illustrations.

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    I come from a theater background, and with that comes an understanding that the look of a story changes with every person who touches it. You will never see two productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream or Into the Woods that are anything alike, even though the script is the same. I find that sort of creative malleability intoxicating, and one of the things I’ve loved in the years since the Wayfarers books first hit the shelves is seeing all the different artistic permutations of the characters and species within. I’ve seen everything from digital renderings to gorgeous pastels to pencil doodles in notebook margins. I have some of them framed on my office walls at home. It never gets old. There’s always a thrill in seeing other people’s takes on something that started in me.

    Given that, I was very excited when I finally got the email containing Zoë van Dijk’s artwork for this edition of The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. What I was not expecting, however, was for my jaw to hit the floor as soon as I opened the file. I shot out of my chair, ran for my office door, and called down the stairs. ‘Hey!’ I yelled to my wife. ‘You gotta come see this right now.’

    She hurried up, and she stared at the monitor. ‘Whoa,’ she said.

    ‘I know,’ I said.

    Whoa,’ she said.

    I know,’ I said.

    Dear reader, I know it’s the nature of promotional materials to be hyperbolic, so I need you to understand – I’m being thoroughly, utterly, hand-on-a-stack-of-stardust honest here.

    These illustrations look like the inside of my own head.

     

    Rosemary and the Akaraks

    The way Rosemary is surrounded and towered over in this image sums up the tension of this scene to a T. Here’s an overwhelming crisis two seconds from getting very ugly, and all you’ve got are foreign-language skills and a college semester of semi-relevant cultural studies. Go.

     

    Jenks and Lovey

    I don’t know what to say other than: it’s perfect. I’m so glad his boots are at the door.

     

    Rosemary on Cricket

    The thing I like most about this one is Jenks walking up in the background. Because up front, you’ve got all that pain and angst and noise, and it’s raw and it’s real, but at the same time … she’s not alone. Someone is coming to help. That’s exactly what this series is, to me.

     

    Injecting Ohan

    Oh, brava. The trifecta of agony, neutrality, and alarm here is this chapter in a nutshell. The awful little details are just wonderful: the injection mark, the spit, the subtext of the stars reflected in Ohan’s eyes. It makes me shiver, in a good way.

     

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    The Folio Society’s limited edition of The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers, features fabulous artwork by Zoë van Dijk and an introduction by the author.

    This special edition is available on foliosociety.com.

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