Posted in 2021, Becky Chambers, Contemporary Fiction, Novella, Science Fiction, Top Books

To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers

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.


If you read nothing else we’ve sent home, please at least read this.


(@HodderBooks, 8 August 2019, ebook, 136 pages, bought from @AmazonKindle)


I’m a huge fan of the author since reading her Wayfarers series so I was really looking forward to this. I really loved To Be Taught, If Fortunate. I don’t read a lot of science fiction and tend to prefer books set on earth featuring human-like characters rather than distant planets people by creatures very different than humans. I find it hard to connect with the story and characters. The author is skilled at writing science fiction in such a way that I can make a connection to other worlds and creatures. This book is split into different sections narrated by Ariadne who recounts her experiences and the experiences of her crew on four vastly different planets while learning that the earth they left might not be there anymore or might be vasty different. I didn’t want the book to end.


I live in Glasgow in the UK with my partner. I work in the Financial Services. I like reading especially Joyce Carol Oates and Stephen King. I write fiction and poetry. I enjoy watching TV (Grimm, Torchwood, Doctor Who, Lip Service, The L Word etc). I like to play video games and am a fan of survival horror especially the Silent Hill franchise. I like to watch movies especially horror and anything where someone dies.

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