To Be Taught, If Fortunate

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 subzero 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 journey to neighboring exoplanets long known to harbor life.

A team of these explorers, Ariadne O’Neill and her three crewmates, are hard at work in a planetary system fifteen light-years from Sol, on a mission to ecologically survey four habitable worlds. But as Ariadne shifts through both form and time, the culture back on Earth has also been transformed. Faced with the possibility of returning to a planet that has forgotten those who have left, Ariadne begins to chronicle the story of the wonders and dangers of her mission, in the hope that someone back home might still be listening.

TITLE: To Be Taught, If Fortunate
AUTHOR: Becky Chambers with Brittany Pressley (Narrator)
PUBLISHER: Harper Voyager
YEAR: 2019
LENGTH: 176 pages
AGE: Adult
GENRE: Science Fiction, Speculate Fiction

Queer Rep Summary: Lesbian/Sapphic Main Character(s), Gay/Achillean Secondary Character(s), Bi/Pan Main Character(s), Trans Secondary Character(s), Ace/Aro Secondary Character(s).

TO BE TAUGHT, IF FORTUNATE presents a delightful and intimate portrait of long-term space travel with a small team of scientists who undertake this journey knowing that it means saying goodbye to everyone they knew and loved. 

Ariadne has strong bonds with her other three crewmates, singly and collectively. Their personalities come through very well and her interactions with them are a delight. They're all affected differently by certain plot events, despite being generally in the same situation as each other, and by the time things get stressful I had a enough of a sense of them to resonate with their reactions. The science explanations are just a much a part of the narrative as Ariadne's conversations with her team. Everyone's enthusiasm for their work makes this a delight to read. 

CW for ableist language (brief), grief (graphic), medical content, suicidal thoughts (brief), animal death (graphic), death.

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An astronaut floating in space above a blue planet.


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