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Publisher's Summary

"Extraordinary...A future sci-fi masterwork in a new and welcome tradition." (Joanne Harris, author of Chocolat)

A stand-alone science fiction novella from the award-winning, best-selling, critically acclaimed author of the Wayfarer series.

At the turn of the 22nd 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 15 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.

©2019 Becky Chambers (P)2019 HarperAudio

What listeners say about To Be Taught, If Fortunate

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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"Gay & Lesbian"?!? This is solid Sci-Fi

This feels like a blatant attempt by Audible to keep potential listeners away from this title by keeping it out of its primary category, which is definitely science fiction. It's a slow-paced novella about a team of astronauts sent on a mission that goes awry -- classic sci-fi fare. As with the rest of the Wayfarers books by Chambers, the focus is on the people and how they cope. In case you're wondering: the main character mentions that she shares a bed with two of the other characters at different points during the journey. That's it. You can see how I might find that category a little misleading when this is basically 4 hours discussing weather patterns, biological analyses, futuristic body modifications, and space ships.

48 people found this helpful

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A Contemplative Story, Worth the Listen

This novella is full of poignant moments on what it means to be an explorer and a scientist. It gets into the gritty details of the work while still fleshing out and maintaining the humanity of a small, diverse group of characters – all framed with an insightful inquiry to the imagined reader. This was a reflective, hopeful read that is probably – if I'm being honest – not for everyone. Much of the narrative is philosophic in nature, and while there is action, it is often punctuated with long stretches of curious narrative and interpersonal development. The fact that there doesn't seem to be an unnecessary component in the entire narrative, which does offset the contemplative components. The plot is tight and well developed and the whole thing is self-contained, making this a brilliant but quick read. Fans of Becky Chambers' Wayfarer novels will enjoy this, generally, but it is not related to that work. I also think 'To be Taught, If Fortunate' is on the whole a demonstration of the author's amazing progression since the first entry of that series, which set a high bar to start. the narrator did justice to the story as well, setting the tone the whole way through.

6 people found this helpful

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Wonderful performance of a terrible story.

Imagine a future where we send a group of astonishingly passive astronauts to other planets to do nothing. They look, they have lots of feelings, they learn nothing of importance, they have more feelings. That is this story. The closest thing to a conflict is a contamination issue that reads like a 7 year old dealing with the death of a goldfish. There is no growth and no discernible underlying lesson. If you enjoy good scifi you will not find any here.

5 people found this helpful

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Brilliant

This was very different from Ms. Chambers’ prior works. Far more reflective on what science means, what it is for, and why it should be done, and how a few probing explorers would feel and act in exploring new worlds, rather than how entire societies would feel and act and develop in space. Still thoughtful as to social patterns, but doing so through a solitary group isolated together, rather than as part of a larger whole. Very well written, as always with Ms. Chambers. The narrator, Ms. Pressley, does not seem to naturally take to male voices, but this is a minor limitation, particularly given how well she expresses the wonder and thoughtfulness that are the core of this book. This is not an action book. But I found it gripping and finished it in a go and listened at 1x speed so as to miss nothing. A lot of things happen, and it does remind me a lot of The Martian with less humor but wider intent and scope. The narrator and the rest of her small crew journey to several distant worlds to explore for science’s sake, and discover life. And that discovery and how they react (on several different worlds) provoke analysis of what science is and should be for. That analysis is fascinating and unusual. This is overlayed with the fact that communication with Earth takes 14 years so their news is always that far behind, plus the crew were in hibernation for twice that along, so even the out-of-date updates are jarring, as times have changed. A lot. This, also, was well-envisioned. Ultimately, the brief shining moment that led to space exploration for its own sake worked to get our crew into space, but what about since then? What is Earth like so many decades after they left? I did not see the conclusion coming, and afterward, could not have envisioned a better one.

8 people found this helpful

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This is categorized as gay and lesbian fiction????

Another miscategorized book. It drives me nuts when they categorize books in such a wildly inaccurate way because the reader doesn't get what s/he's looking for. There are only a couple of references to the main character's relationship with another woman. And I think she also has a relationship with a man. This is sci-fi--not great, but enough to hold my attention. The fact that it's a novella helps. Chambers' Wayfarer series is more interesting.

7 people found this helpful

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Intelligent, Interesting, Contemplative SciFi

This is science fiction at the top level. The story takes the science of space exploration and expands it into a story. It's intimate and contemplative and gives us a chance to be in the body of someone in the future. I once listened to a recording of a speech by astronaut Edgar Mitchell. During his talk to his audience he led them on a meditation where he shared an experience of going into space. It was amazing. This book reminded me of that. The narration was perfect. Highly recommend.

1 person found this helpful

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a new favorite

This is one of my three favorite, new science fiction authors. I eagerly wait for her each new title to release. She is just wonderful! And this may be her best yet. Read it. Love it. Delight in it. :)

1 person found this helpful

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a let down after Becky chambers other books...

so boring...builds up to nothing and didn't appreciate the open ended philosophical question as an ending.

1 person found this helpful

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Thought-provoking

This is a book that will stick with you. It asks big questions. It’s a nearer-term science fiction, and celebrates science. If scientific discovery excites you, I would recommend.

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A great story, once again.

A great story, once again. I expected nothing less. This doesn't seem to be that connected to the previous (?) books though. Maybe a prequel?