The Galaxy and the Floor Inside (Wayfarers # 4) by Becky Chambers

Without water, without air and without native life, the planet Gora is inconspicuous. The only thing it has to offer is its random proximity to more popular worlds, which makes it a decent stopover for ships cruising between the wormholes that keep the Galactic Commons connected. If space is a highway, Gora is just your average truck stop.

At the five-hop one-stop, long-distance spacers can stretch their legs (if they have legs) and get fuel, transit permits, and various supplies. The Five-Hop is led by an enterprising alien and her sometimes helpful child who work hard to provide a little piece of home for everyone who passes through.

When a freaky technological failure stops all traffic to and from Gora, three strangers – all different species with different destinations – are thrown together on a five-hop. The trio is grounded and has nothing to do but wait. It’s an exiled artist with an appointment to hold, a freight driver at a personal intersection, and a mysterious person doing their best to help the marginalized. We were where they could go and what they are or could be with each other.

Reasons to read it: This is the highly anticipated fourth book in the Wayfarers series. However, each book also works on its own as they follow different characters and are mostly self-contained stories. This one has no main human characters! All three are aliens that are very different types. You can always count on a Becky Chambers book to be kind – and usually weird too. In this case, the child mentioned is not binary and uses non-binary pronouns. There’s also this locked space aspect which is great if you’re interested in character based stories because it just forces people to reveal who they are and how they relate to one another.