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To Be Taught, If Fortunate

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  6,348 ratings  ·  1,181 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
Paperback, 153 pages
Published September 3rd 2019 by Harper Voyager (first published August 8th 2019)
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Mary I'd say Closed and Common orbit. There is a story here, and it doesn't take ages to get going. It's more eleagic (sp?) than The Long Way to a Small…moreI'd say Closed and Common orbit. There is a story here, and it doesn't take ages to get going. It's more eleagic (sp?) than The Long Way to a Small and Angry Planet, but it's very good, I think. Hope you won't be disappointed if you read 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…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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Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
Oh look another book I need to add to my ever growing TBR!
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.
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 ...more
Emer (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
Sep 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5000-2019
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
Matthew Quann
Aug 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, pretty-short
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
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.
Charlotte May
Oct 29, 2019 marked it as library-loans  ·  review of another edition
Picked up from the library

I’ve been getting withdrawals from Becky Chambers’ wonderfully optimistic Sci Fi so thank God for this novella
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 ...more
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 ...more
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
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
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.
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.
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 ...more
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?
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
I really don't know what to say about this book. I’m coming to it months after Micky's original review, and the reviews of so many others, all of whom are far more eloquent than me. I just know that this story lulled me into loving it. It was a slow, smart, heartwrenching, and thoughtful, seduction.

I'm an observer, not a conqueror. I have no interest in changing other worlds to suit me. I choose the lighter touch : changing myself to suit them.

I've read Chambers before and knew to expect
Oleksandr Zholud
This is a SF space exploration novella in tradition of classic SF educaiment.

People go to the stars. And it is done not by a state or corporation, but by million of people across the globe giving money to a non-profit that launches several spaceships with small crews (4 persons) to stars with planets in a Goldilocks’ zone. Our narrator, a female engineer Ariadne O’Neill, aboard the spacecraft Merian, sent 14 light years from the Sol.

The book starts with her note to the readers that she hopes
Lauren James
A near-future look at a manned mission to research primitive alien life outside the solar system. The crew wear patches that alter their genes to adapt to each planet - making their skin glitter on low-light moons, giving them more muscle strength on high gravity planets, etc. The alien lifeforms are fascinating and distinctly non-Earthian. I loved the crew too - some amazing diversity of race and sexuality for only 4 characters. The ending really struck a chord with me too - it made me
laurel [suspected bibliophile]
Ariadne and her crew of four travel four of the planets (well, one moon and three planets), orbiting Zhenyi. All is well until they suddenly receive silence from Earth.

While the idea of a long-term space exploration team losing track of Earth due to ~reasons~ isn't something that's often done, I did enjoy the hell out of the concept of exploration vice colonization.

The Merian crew had no desire to colonize—and that wasn't their mission. They were after the pursuit of knowledge and nothing more,
Julie Zantopoulos
Dec 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own-it, read-in-2019
This isn't in our Wayfarer world but Becky delivers on the characters and the feels, all the same. The only issue with this is how short it was and the ending...why that ending! But I love the message of trying not to influence the areas you explore, trying not to harm or change but only observe. And the diversity on a four person crew is phenomenal-we'd expect no different of a Becky Chambers book. I was a ltitle overwhelmed with the science aspects in such a a short novella and maybe would ...more
Originally posted to I Should Read That

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This is a spoiler-free review.

You all know how passionately I love Becky Chambers’ books -- she’s one of my favourite authors and consistently puts out incredible stories. When her next release was announced, I was initially a little disappointed that To Be Taught, If Fortunate wasn’t going to be a continuation of her Wayfarers books. However I completely trust Becky to give
Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)
Sep 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 Stars
Becky Chambers packed such a beautiful and powerful story into this little novella!

Unrelated to the Wayfarer’s series, this story had a slightly different narrative style and tone than her beloved companion series. This novella was more focused on the technical aspects of science fiction with a little less emphasis on the characters. The story still had the author’s optimistic view of the future. Yet it was noticeably more toned down, which made the story feel more realistic than the
Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
While this excellent (mostly) hard SF novella isn't set in the Wayfarer's universe, it explores common themes for this author around social cohesion, shared purpose and found family, along with being a profoundly hopeful story about crewed space exploration.

The framing conceit of this is as a message home from a small crew of extrasolar explorers. The mission targets exoplanets with signs of life and uses slower-than-light travel with suspended animation technology and "somaforming", where the
wanderer (Para)
Aug 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
ARC received from the publisher (Harper Voyager) on Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

And Becky Chambers has done it again. I know that's a cliché line to use in a review, but I wouldn't be surprised if in a few decades she will be remembered as one of the greats. This is the exact kind of thought-provoking, insightful, ultimately deeplyhuman sci-fi that makes up the best the genre has to offer.

However, I went in with entirely the wrong expectations so I will say this: don't expect
Aug 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I kind of did a double take when I read in the brief author bio at the end of this novella that Becky Chambers has a … wife. Nothing wrong with that in our enlightened age, but it is quite ironic in the light of the main criticism of her Wayfarers’ series as being too conventional, hopeful, optimistic, and too caught up in the minutiae of her characters’ (often very complex and sex-packed) lives.

Well, this criticism goes out the window with this short novella, which packs more gung-ho action
***4 Stars***

This book is sci-fi, but it isn't about action. It is consisting mostly of the internal contemplation of an engineer on a small exploration ship.

It is a journey of space travel, but maybe even more importantly it is the internal journey of one woman. We follow the main character, Ariadne, who's the ideal astronaut. She’s curious, but respectful, ambitious but realistic, and she has limits but they are being pushed.

Ariadne and her crew mates go on a research mission far, far away
Sep 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Touching tale of the wonders and challenges of space exploration and the search for extraterrestrial life in particular. Chambers really examines what drives us to explore, to send humans where drones and technology might suffice, and ask the big questions about the nature and origin of life in the universe. And beyond that, the enormous costs and sacrifices involved, and the necessary support, input and enthusiasm of so many to make it a reality.

"Are astronauts still relevant in your time? We
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A pioneering space mission in the near future with it's feet firmly on our reality. The joviality, compassion and diversity familiar from The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet crew meets the no-nonsense mentality and first-person narration reminiscence of Red Mars and The Martian: logging in details on daily maintenance and mission tasks, convincing bits of astrogeological and astrobiological observations, and perceptive personal thoughts on crew psychology. Absolutely captivating treat, with ...more
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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
“We celebrate the tree that stretches to the sky, but it is the ground we should ultimately thank.” 12 likes
“We exist where we begin, yet to remain is death.” 7 likes
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