Book Review: To Be Taught, If Fortunate, Becky Chambers

Book Review: To Be Taught, If Fortunate, Becky Chambers

To Be Taught, If Fortunate, Becky Chambers

Science Fiction: To Be Taught, If Fortunate, Becky Chambers

 

Imagine you are on a deep space mission to explore possibly inhabitable worlds and visit previously colonized planets. You spend most of the trip in cryogenic sleep, waking only when you approach your destination. You look for messages from Earth, messages that might change your mission parameters, your destinations, your goals. Every year you are farther and farther from Earth. Every year it takes longer for the messages to catch up to you. Because of the time dilation near light speed, you are barely aging while time on Earth continues to flow. Your family is long gone, the mission communications team ages, then changes, and you continue to go further and further and further, hoping that your last mission will come and you will get the signal to return to Earth.

 

Worlds come and go. Visits go as planned. Well, no, they don’t. Allegedly inhabitable worlds are not, worlds filled with unending storms, with dangerous animals, with unexpected challenges. Your body gets transformed during your interstellar sleep, adding bone density and muscle mass for higher gravity planets, improved lung capacity for lower oxygen planets, changes to the way your DNA expresses itself in your enhanced human body.

 

Then, the messages from Earth stop.

 

What would you do? Go home? Settle down? Keep going?

 

Becky Chambers is a thoughtful and philosophical writer. Her books may include space voyages and aliens and robots and strange new worlds. But they are really about humans. How might we react in extreme circumstances? What do we do when we don’t know what to do? How would we confront the unknown, the unknowable?

 

To Be Taught, If Fortunate is beautifully written, carefully plotted, and deeply profound. Whether you agree with her conclusions or not, this is a book that is meant to make you think. Perhaps, even to be taught, if you’re fortunate.

 

To Be Taught, If Fortunate, Becky Chambers

Book Review: To Be Taught, If Fortunate, Becky Chambers

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