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To Be Taught, If Fortunate

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  20,043 ratings  ·  3,540 reviews
In her new novella, Sunday Times best-selling author Becky Chambers imagines a future in which, instead of terraforming planets to sustain human life, explorers of the solar system instead transform themselves.

Ariadne is one such explorer. As an astronaut on an extrasolar research vessel, she and her fellow crewmates sleep between worlds and wake up each time with differe
Paperback, 153 pages
Published September 3rd 2019 by Harper Voyager (first published August 8th 2019)
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Amina Farha Definitely A Long Way... & Closed and Common Orbit Chambers, in my opinion. I, too, was very disappointed with Record of a Spaceborn Few, but To Be Ta…moreDefinitely A Long Way... & Closed and Common Orbit Chambers, in my opinion. I, too, was very disappointed with Record of a Spaceborn Few, but To Be Taught was incredible.

My only complaint is that the ending felt a bit abrupt--I wanted more!--but I suppose that's a function of the shorter length. There are also 30-odd pages of bonus material at the end, so the ending snuck up on me, since physically, it looked like I had plenty of book left--which was really disappointing, come to think of it. (less)
Estel One of the characters is trans (male identifying, likely AFAB), one is ace, one is bi/pan (not clearly stated but in relationships with both men and w…moreOne of the characters is trans (male identifying, likely AFAB), one is ace, one is bi/pan (not clearly stated but in relationships with both men and women) and poly, and the last is in a female-female relationship with the third but doesn't have more revealed to narrow down sexuality from there. It's also lovely because all their identities just *are*; the plot is about them being astronauts and exploring the universe.(less)

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Average rating 4.21  · 
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Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
One of my newest favorite books.

Becky Chambers has a way with words that makes every book she writes feel like home. I was sucked into this story from the first sentence ( If you read nothing else we've sent home, please at least read this. Eum yes?!).

I've never read such a wholesome character driven sci-fi and I can't recommend this enough.

A must read!
Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)
WOW, this reminded me so much of why I love sci-fi and why I need to make it a priority to read more of it. Becky Chambers has such a knack for writing heartbreakingly human, character driven stories. I loved this a whole heck of a lot.
“We have found nothing you can sell. We have found nothing you can put to practical use. We have found no worlds that could be easily or ethically settled, were that end desired. We have satisfied nothing but curiosity, gained nothing but knowledge.”
You have to possess a specific mindset to like this novella. You need to be that person who, in the middle of an adventure story featuring a group of explorers would pause and think — wouldn’t it be nice that if instead of battles/ chases/ intrig
Nov 15, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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3.5/5 stars

This may surprise you, but unlike The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, I actually enjoyed reading To Be Taught, If Fortunate.

Becky Chambers is most often known for her work on Wayfarers series, a space-opera series that many people have called the ultimate feel-good space opera or literary hugs. Admittedly, I haven’t finished reading The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, either I was in the wrong readin
Charlotte May
Oct 29, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
I’m sad I didn’t love this as much as I wanted to 😔

“We step out of our solar system into the universe seeking only peace and friendship - to teach, if we are called upon; to be taught, if we are fortunate.” We know full well that our planet and all it’s inhabitants are but a small part of this immense universe that surrounds us, and it is with humility and hope that we take this step.”

I love Becky Chambers. Her Wayfarers series had me utterly spellbound. But this one just didn’t do it for me.
A travelogue with frankly underdeveloped characters and a bonkers ending--and I don't mean in the Gideon the Ninth kind of way. No, I mean in the Tana French, authorial choice kind of way. A metaphor, in novella, for exploration, learning and weighing costs.

The set-up is that a team of four astronaut-scientists are on a long-term exploration mission from the Earth, with an agreed mission to explore four different targets and report back, engaging in a type of extended torpor between locations. T
Joanne Harris
Since I first read Joanna Russ' WE WHO ARE ABOUT TO... I've had a hole in my heart. This book healed it. This extraordinary novella proves that you don't have to write a long book to pack a big punch. Becky Chambers' writing gets better and better with everything she writes, and this is no exception. Every sentence is perfectly balanced without attracting unnecessary attention; characterization is subtle but effective; and the impact of the ending is everything I hoped it would be. A future sci- ...more
Sep 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a beauty. A novella which packs twice the punch of the average full length novel. A story of hope and a better future. An ending which makes you want to cry. Wonderful.

I love well written sci fi and To Be Taught, If Fortunate is exactly that. It follows the experiences of four scientists/astronauts who are basically crowd funded by a future Earth to explore several previously unvisited planets. Time passes and eventually they lose contact with Earth. What should they do next?

I must admi
Éimhear (A Little Haze)
Becky Chambers is a freaking genius. If you have any interest in speculative fiction about where we as a species could be headed then you really need to pick up any of her books.

'To Be Taught If Fortunate' is a short novella about longterm space mission to study four planets light years away from Earth. There are four members of the crew of the OCA spacecraft Merian; Ariadne O'Neill, Elena Quesada-Cruz, Jack Vo and Chikondi Daka. But instead of getting caught up in stereotypical space opera sty
Sep 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who want to try something different & unique
Recommended to Mrinmayi by: Rue my good old friend
The moment Mrin realized that she did not enjoy FANTASY her go-to genre BUT ended up liking this book...

This was me after reading this book

I forbid you all to look at the blurb!!!!
Just go into it blindly

This book was so atmospheric and fascinating !!!
Also, you DON'T have to be a science student to enjoy this
though you will enjoy it more if you are (Which is what happened to me🤗)
The various terms the author used were something I was familiar w
Aug 12, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

Well written, but this kind of felt like the result of a creative writing assignment. It's like someone gave the author a prompt of "write a novella where a small number of humans are visiting unknown planets/moons light years away" and this is what the author came up with. Don't get me wrong, I would give this an A if I was a teacher grading this. There's thought given to how humans would need to adjust to different conditions (gravity, light, etc), how they would attempt to identify a
Matthew Quann
Aug 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pretty-short, sci-fi
Guys, if you haven't read any of Becky Chambers' uplifting solar punk (see her Hugo-award wining Wayfarers trilogy), then To Be Taught, If Fortunate is the perfect place to start. Stuffed into less than 200 pages, it is a compelling, intelligent, and deeply humanistic science-fiction yarn that is representative of what Chambers does best.

The story is told as a letter being sent back to Earth from Adriane, pilot of a OCA spaceship meant to categorize and study exoplanets. These four pilots t
Natasha Ngan
Jun 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
THE MARTIAN meets INTERSTELLAR, this is high-concept speculative fic at its finest. Rendered with startling clarity, Chambers' latest offering is a short but fierce ode to humanity and all our reaches and flaws. Unputdownable. ...more
Dawn C
Nov 14, 2019 rated it did not like it
“Hello, I hope you are listening and it’s okay even though I’m a space traveller I won’t exclude you by using fancy words coz I want to talk to ALL of you so I’m gonna talk like you’re all simpleminded idiots ok? So yesterday I found a stone and it was so pretty and this is the whole meaning of life, you know? I used to live somewhere that sounds pretty and today we’re having this for dinner and I find animals so fascinating especially insects because they are one thing and then they are another ...more
K.J. Charles
Nov 11, 2019 added it
Shelves: sf, novella
A terrific piece of specfic showing you don't need hostile aliens or laser shootouts to do terrifying. Ariadne and her three colleagues are sent on a long-term science mission into space which involves going into a kind of hibernation to get there before dying of old age--so a lot of time has passed on Earth before they wake up, and then they spend years on the planets they're studying. It's absolutely fascinating and immersive--the pictures of completely alien habitats, the amazing but constric ...more
Sep 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, 2019-shelf
The good:

I honestly enjoyed the science bits and exploring the worlds. I kept thinking of Peter Watts' book, Starfish, where the people alter themselves for the harsh environment rather than the other way around. But unlike Peter's book, this is downright mild and doesn't go for the mental health issues. At least, it doesn't go for them in quite such a hardcore way.

The bad:

This is hard-SF, and while the cool focus is mostly on biology rather than physics, we still have to ignore quite a few thi
Sep 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A lovely, hopeful book. A love letter to science, a meditation on the wonder of space and discovery, both without and within.
Evelina | AvalinahsBooks
Sigh. This is a case of managing your expectations. If you are coming into this book expecting what you've already read by Becky Chambers, well... Maybe don't read it (or don't have those expectations).

This book is basically a big metaphor. I would call it literary, not the typical scifi. Not a bad thing, and in another context on its own, I would have enjoyed it. But that's not what I was expecting. Not the author's fault at all! But I feel like this might happen to a lot of fans when it comes
I’ll say right off the bat that I’m not a science fiction reader, and initially I struggled to get into this. There’s not much in the way of a traditional ‘story’ beyond following four explorers as they leave Earth to investigate specific planets. These planets are varied, some teeming with life, some none. All have differing environments too, and the book explores how we humans can ‘change’ to adapt to that environment - which was interesting, as well as the moral dilemma of interfering with li ...more
Aug 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Space exploration SF that sets its focus on science, biology in particular, instead of adventures on far away worlds.

This novella is written as an account of the survey mission the main character and her three fellow astronauts are on, sent back to Earth fifty years after they left the planet on their way to the four habitable worlds in orbit around the red dwarf star Zhenyi. All four worlds (Aecor, Mirabilis, Opera and Votum) are either known or suspected to harbour life. Ariadne and her collea
April (Aprilius Maximus)
“It is difficult to give thought to the stars when the ground is swallowing you up.”

representation: queer characters, asexual rep, trans rep, polyamorous relationship, characters of colour (Mexican and Zambian).

[trigger warnings are listed at the bottom of this review and may contain spoilers]

A lovely, quiet novella that is quite thought-provoking and packs quite a punch. Becky Chambers is a master at writing heartbreakingly human stories that just happen to be set in space.

“I kno
Sep 04, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was fascinating and a very engaging concept. It did not charm or entertain in the same way the Wayfarers did, but I did enjoy it.
Mar 08, 2020 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars

I am in the minority on this one, but I did not care for this at all. I loved all of the Wayfarer books, and this novella was certainly well written, but the ending just felt so contrived and unrealistic that I can't move past that.

I liked the idea of a long-term scientific mission of exploration, with significant chunks of time spent on each planet to catalogue all the amazing finds. I liked the idea that the mission was essentially funded by a bunch of interested individuals after go
Kayla Dawn
Apr 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
I desperately need more of this
Shaun Hutchinson
Sep 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was just such a lovely novella about everything. I'd be laying if I said it didn't leave me wanting more, but isn't that what a good book is supposed to do? ...more
Allison Hurd
Apr 23, 2020 rated it it was ok
So, I think Becky Chambers is brilliant at finding the kindness in collective humanity and making it interesting, and that her ability to imagine alien life is phenomenal. But I don't think she played to her strengths here.

CONTENT WARNINGS: (view spoiler)

Things I liked:

-The description of the worlds. I think it's inarguable that the worlds she's imagined are so cool and fascinating. The imaginative bits are great.

-Some of the sci
While I feel the ending of this novella is a bit of a cop-out (view spoiler), I fully acknowledge that viewpoint comes from my own particular bias toward life due to who I am and my generation. Chambers is different from me in many important ways, some of which are fundamental, so I get that her solutions ...more
Mar 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: booktubesff-2020
I really enjoyed this read and I'm glad I finally got around to it as it's a shortlisted item on the #Booktubesff awards. I know I've loved all of Becky Chambers' other work, but as this is the first short by her I hoped I'd enjoy this one too, and it did not disappoint!

This story tells the tale of 4 astronauts (Ariadne being the main character) and their journey to four planets to discover more about them. The project is a crowdfunded expedition which is a big factor in the mentality of the cr
Michael Finocchiaro
I loved Becky Chambers’ trilogy and was hoping for more of the name with this one. I enjoyed the new worlds and the geeky stuff, but I was disappointed that it was so short! There was enough interesting here to have been a longer story and I was frustrated by this. I really wanted more detail about the characters and their voyage. I would recommend reading her trilogy before reading this one.

I think that the thing that I learned that was perhaps most interesting was the "handedness" of our genes
Jenny (Reading Envy)
To Be Taught, if Fortunate by Becky Chambers is one of the books I bought since all the stay at home orders (support your local bookstores through - it is novella length and is about a small crew of scientists doing science on four different exoplanets, using somaforming to adapt to the new environments. I loved the info at the end about the science this is based on (and the scientist the author works with most often.)
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Becky Chambers is a science fiction author based in Northern California. She is best known for her Hugo Award-winning Wayfarers series, which currently includes The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, A Closed and Common Orbit, and Record of a Spaceborn Few. Her books have also been nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the Locus Award, and the Women's Prize for Fiction, among others. Her most ...more

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