TO BE TAUGHT, IF FORTUNATE by Becky Chambers

In the future, instead of terraforming planets to sustain human life, explorers of galaxy transform themselves.

At the turn of the twenty-second century, scientists make a breakthrough in human spaceflight. Through a revolutionary method known as somaforming, astronauts can survive in hostile environments off Earth using synthetic biological supplementations. They can produce antifreeze in sub-zero temperatures, absorb radiation and convert it for food, and conveniently adjust to the pull of different gravitational forces. With the fragility of the body no longer a limiting factor, human beings are at last able to explore neighbouring exoplanets long suspected to harbour life.

Ariadne is one such explorer. On a mission to ecologically survey four habitable worlds fifteen light-years from Earth, she and her fellow crewmates sleep while in transit, and wake each time with different features. But as they shift through both form and time, life back on Earth has also changed. Faced with the possibility of returning to a planet that has forgotten those who have left, Ariadne begins to chronicle the wonders and dangers of her journey, in the hope that someone back home might still be listening.

A new standalone novella from the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet.In the future, instead of terraforming planets to sustain human life, explorers of galaxy transform themselves.


Title : To Be Taught, If Fortunate
Author : Becky Chambers
Format : Paperback arc
Page Count : 176
Genre : Sci-fi
Publisher : Hodderscape (Hodder & Stoughton)
Release Date : 8 August 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 5 star review

I didn’t know what to expect from this as a sci-fi novella, unconnected to any story and yet, it blew my expectations out of the water. This is a full-bodied story, detailed and captivating. It was told from the perspective of Ariadne. She was one of four intrepid astronauts who were willing to say goodbye to earth for a long time and to their families forever to explore four different planetary bodies.

The science in this read was complex and yet easy to follow, I grasped the developments that underpinned space exploration in this era. The science first few planetary bodies lulled me in, transfixed me with the descriptions and made me invested in Ariadne, Jack, Chikondi and Elena. Their separate and joined-up intellect was colourful reading and their problem-solving made me want to get closer. The dynamic between the four was fascinating and the glossing around the intimate relationships was fitting and represented a natural diversity. This team were to all intents and purposes, a family.

The status quo did not continue however, and watching the team navigate problems, their isolation and getting the measure of their psychological status was fascintating. The unravelling of various characters felt tangible. This story examines humanity on a small scale and yet humanity on a grand scale became a poignant issue.

Becky Chambers writes complex sci-fi in a palatable, engaging way. This is a novella you are going to want to read and then think about afterwards.

Thank you Hodderscape for this gorgeous early copy of the book.

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