The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
Basically perfect. It’s low-key, character-driven sci-fi, stuffed with cool ideas and diverse cultures. Completely scratched my Firefly itch, in a good way :)
Three things it taught me about writing:
- Can think of chapters as episodes of a TV series, with cuts between multiple points of view, similar beats, and cliffhanger endings.
- Having the Shit Go Down at the end of the book rather than the beginning gives the reader time to know and care for the characters, making it more tense.
- You can get away with an infinite amount of info-dumping if it's a knowledgeable character explaining things to a clueless character.