cover image To Be Taught, If Fortunate

To Be Taught, If Fortunate

Becky Chambers. Harper Voyager, $12.99 trade paper (144p) ISBN 978-0-06-293601-1

With technical prowess and outstanding visceral imagery, Chambers (the Wayfarer Series) packs an immense amount of story into a novella worthy of full-length praise. Humans have begun to perfect the process of space exploration at the turn of the 22nd century with the use of somaforming, a technology allowing astronauts to survive under any conditions in the galaxy. With human fragility no longer a concern, astronaut Ariadne O’Neill and her explorer companions are sent to four distant planets. As the voyagers traverse time and change physical forms, the Earth undergoes its own transformation, and Ariadne and her colleagues are forced to confront the possibility of returning to a planet that has forgotten them. As Ariadne chronicles her missions, her stories raise questions about the ethics of research and beg the reader to empathize with being alone. Using precise language to paint awe-inspiring pictures of the unknown, Chambers offers a troubling, beckoning glimpse into the future of humankind. Agent: Seth Fishman, Gernert Company. (Sept.)