To Be Taught If Forunate by Becky Chambers
Genre: Adult SciFi
Details: 153 pages – Paperbook, Kindle, Audiobook
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Series: Stand Alone
Disclaimer: This book was read voluntarily by me via HooplaDigital. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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 different features. Her experience is one of fluid body and stable mind and of a unique perspective on the passage of time. Back on Earth, society changes dramatically from decade to decade, as it always does.
Ariadne may awaken to find that support for space exploration back home has waned, or that her country of birth no longer exists, or that a cult has arisen around their cosmic findings, only to dissolve once more by the next waking. But the moods of Earth have little bearing on their mission: to explore, to study, and to send their learnings home.
Carrying all the trademarks of her other beloved works, including brilliant writing, fantastic world-building and exceptional, diverse characters, Becky’s first audiobook outside of the Wayfarers series is sure to capture the imagination of listeners all over the world.
One of the things I find interesting about Becky Chambers is that I always go into the book thinking, what does this title mean to the story? I first experienced this when I read The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. Come to find out, the story is about a group of people who punch holes through space to make trips short! So in order to first make the punch, they have to take the long way! To Be Taught If Fortunate does not disappoint in the way that you find the title in the story. This book is about a quest for knowledge and being lucky enough to be the one to gather it.
In this thought provoking novel, we find our main explorer Ariadne in the middle of her work. Imagine if a documentary crew decided to just visit a group of scientists and record their every day duties. The goal of these people are to just explore the vastness of the universe and collect data – there isn’t a crazy adventure, there isn’t a budding war. It’s 4 racially and sexually diverse scientists who have given up their lives on the quest for knowledge only and we get a front row seat to that collection of data.
“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 love this outlook on storytelling. Ariadne has no interest in finding new worlds to colonize, it’s just wanting to leave the lightest footprint possible everywhere they go as to not disturb the natural order of things. It gives me a lot of existential things to think about for our own planet – the constant harm we do, the never ending pollution and destruction.
“Because sometimes we go, and we try, and we suffer, and despite it all, we learn nothing. Sometimes we are left with more questions than when we started. Sometimes we do harm, despite our best efforts. We are human. We are fragile.”
Not every planet they went to yielded incredible results. I loved the level of anxiety and tension that brought when they went places that weren’t necessarily something they were used to or were ready to encounter. I loved the world building, it was just enough to not cover up the character driven plot.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
BECKY CHAMBERS (AUTHOR)
Becky Chambers is a science fiction author based in Northern California. She is best known for her Hugo Award-winning Wayfarers series. 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 latest works are The Galaxy, and The Ground Within (the fourth and final Wayfarers novel), and A Psalm for the Wild-Built (the first of her Monk and Robot novellas).
Becky has a background in performing arts, and grew up in a family heavily involved in space science. She spends her free time playing video games, tabletop RPGs, and looking through her telescope. Having hopped around the world a bit, she’s now back in her home state, where she lives with her wife. She hopes to see Earth from orbit one day.
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