73 points, 3 ¾ stars


In the future, instead of terraforming planets to sustain human life, explorers of galaxy transform themselves.


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 sub-zero 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 explore neighbouring exoplanets long suspected to harbour life.

Ariadne is one such explorer. On a mission to ecologically survey four habitable worlds fifteen light-years from Earth, she and her fellow crewmates sleep while in transit, and wake each time with different features. But as they shift through both form and time, life back on Earth has also changed. Faced with the possibility of returning to a planet that has forgotten those who have left, Ariadne begins to chronicle the wonders and dangers of her journey, in the hope that someone back home might still be listening.

A new standalone novella from the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet.

To Be Taught, If Fortunate was released on August 8th, 2019 in the UK/AUS and will be released on September 3rd, 2019 in the US. Buy/Preorder now on Amazon and other major retailers!


It’s been fifty years since we left Earth, and I don’t know whose eyes or ears this message has reached. I know how much a world can change within the bookends of a lifetime.


To Be Taught, If Fortunate is absolutely nothing like Wayfarers. Do not go into this thinking you’ll get the same slice of life, fun story as you did with Wayfarers. Do not go in expecting an idealistic atmosphere. You’ll just end up dissatisfied if you do.

This novella has a certain charm to it. It has the charm of wanting to know what the main characters know, no matter how bad things might turn out in the end. The charm of seeing the characters overcome adversity, even if that adversity is the environment they are are in. It is the charm of exploration and seeing a whole bunch of cool new things in space and what technology can do.

And that last bit is most important, because this is a very science heavy novella. The approach Chambers takes with this is that the scientist narrator, Ariadne, is writing back to Earth for reasons that become clear at the end. There isn’t a lot of dialogue. It is half observation notes, half mission report. It is very to the point. There really isn’t a lot of action, or character bonding, or much of anything other than exploration in what they are doing.

While I really like the concept, I’m not certain this was a novella for me. I am very much a character reader, and there really wasn’t much character action. I think this was really well written and will appeal to a lot of people looking for an expedition into the unknown.

I received this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Becky Chambers, Harper Voyager, and Edelweiss for providing the opportunity to review this copy.