Genre: Science Fiction
Release Date: 8th August 2019
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Add it: Goodreads
In her new novella, Sunday Times best-selling author Becky Chambers imagines a future in which, instead of terraforming planets to sustain human life, explorers of the solar system instead transform themselves.
Adriane 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.
Becky Chambers will forever have all of my love and respect. That’s it, that’s the review.
Just kidding, but really that’s all you need to know about this short novella. I’m not usually a fan of short stories, as I tend to think they either a) have no point or b) end far too quickly. However, To Be Taught was just perfect. It was the perfect length, there was the perfect amount of intrigue and the perfect amount of story. Everything about it was fantastic.
I should probably tell you what it’s about before I continue to gush about one of my favourite authors. So, in To Be Taught, we’re following a four-person space crew as they go on an expedition to survey life on other planets. There are four planets in total, and there are different things to learn from each of them – about the planets, about the astronauts themselves, and about each other.
To be honest, Ariadne wasn’t the most intriguing protagonist, but I could deal with that because the exploration of the planets and the people was so lush and vivid that it made up for it. I completely felt what they were all going through, even though I have never and absolutely will never go into space myself.
I don’t want to say too much about the plot itself because this is such a short book that I could summarise it in a couple of paragraphs, but just know that Becky Chambers handles everything with respect and grace, and it turns out to be a very hopeful story about the human race. It gives me chills and other good feelings every time I think about this novella.
Also, I’m just going to end this review by saying that the planets thing was SO CLEVER and I had to gush about the progression and the parallels to everyone that would listen. This is super vague, because of spoilers, but PARALLELS.
Read the book.