Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: becky-chambers
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2020-08-11 06:17
To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers
To Be Taught If Fortunate - Becky Chambers

TITLE: To Be Taught, If Fortunate


AUTHOR: Becky Chambers



"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.





Interesting concept, boring execution.  The idea of temporarily altering your genetics to fit into an off-planet environment was interesting, but the writing was just tedious.  There were too many info dumps about biological concepts.  Too much "telling" and not enough "showing".  The main narrator has absolutely no personality, and the other characters are even "flatter".  For a space exploration novella this one was pretty bland.  Nothing "exciting" happened, even though the potential was there.  No personal development, no inter-personal development or crew dynamics either.  Everyone was just so... agreeable... and ... nice.    Even the potentially exciting parts came across as bland.  I got excited there for one moment with the giant slug-things... but NOTHING HAPPENED!  The ending was an interesting twist, but I found it highly unsatisfying and not at all plausible.  The one thing going for this novella is that it is short!

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2020-05-25 12:27
Wondrous worlds and some big questions.
To Be Taught If Fortunate - Becky Chambers

This is my first contact with Becky Chambers’s work, and I can’t comment on how it compares with the rest, but I read a review of this novella that intrigued me greatly, and I’m pleased I decided to purchase it and read it. She is a favourite among science-fiction fans, and I can see why.

The description gives a good idea of what the story is about. Ariadne, one of the four members of Lawki 6, a mission part of a programme to explore life outside Earth, with each mission focusing on certain planets that are believed to be able to hold (or develop) some form of life. She is a flight engineer, and each one of the other members of the crew (Elena, Jack, and Chikondi) has their own specialization and their own characteristics. One is a stickler for detail, another one hates early mornings, one is forever listening to music, another one only things about rocks, or plants… They are all young and have spent most of their lives either training or on missions, so although there isn’t much personal information (but there is some) forthcoming, that is not surprising. As the story is narrated in the first person by Ariadne, we hear more from her, but there is enough detail provided to get a sense of how wondrous (but also at time claustrophobic and horrendous) life can be for all of them. And although each one has a different way of coping, they are all tested and survive because they are a team.

I am not a big science-fiction reader and don’t have the knowledge to discuss the ins-and-outs of the science behind the novella, although there is a great deal of research in evidence, which allows readers to understand how things work without overwhelming us with complex explanations. The way the information is delivered reminded me of The Martian, minus the peculiar sense of humour of that novel’s protagonist, and here Ariadne is self-conscious of the fact that what she is explaining might be too much or too little depending on the audience and acknowledges it in her narration. I enjoyed the snippets of science weaved into the story, which I found fascinating, and became even more interested when I read about the author’s sources of information in her acknowledgments. I am not sure hard-core science fiction fans will find this novella up to their standards, but I loved the science part of it as much, if not more, as the fiction. Apart from the science part of the book, the novella also asks some pretty big questions, I’d dare call philosophical, about the nature of knowledge, and what is justified and what is not. Is knowledge for its own sake sufficient? Should everything have a practical application? These are questions humanity has been asking from the beginning of time, and I am not sure we’ll ever get an answer that satisfies everybody.

The writing style combines beautifully descriptive passages (the crew comes across some wonderful landscapes and creatures, and some horrible ones as well), and others where background information is imparted, telling more than showing, although this is fully justified by the premise of the novella, which is a combination of memoir, epistle, and report. There are moments of action, and some when readers are likely to think they know where things are going, but people expecting a standard adventure are bound to be disappointed. This is not a page-turner in the usual sense, and there are many moments of contemplation, wonder, but also of frustration and routine.

The book’s ending is open as it closes with a question, and each reader is free to imagine what comes next. I know what I’d like to happen, but worry that it is unlikely within the premise of the novella. The story proper ends around the 90% mark, as after the acknowledgements there is a sample of another one of the author’s novels, in case readers wonder about its actual length.

I recommend this novella to anybody who enjoys the science bit in science-fiction, and to anybody who likes to imagine and wonder how other worlds might be.  It might disappoint those looking for action and adventure, but if you like to let your imagination fly, think, and ask yourself big questions; this novella might be for you. I am sure this won’t be the last of Chamber’s books I read.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2020-03-23 03:55
Comforting Space Opera
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet - Becky Chambers

That was such a cute comforting read.


At first, I was a bit "meh", but it grew on me as I read. There is nothing groundbreaking or uniquely though provoking here, but more of a hodgepodge-crew-as-family gone on a long job, told in chapters of a more or less episodic nature. It's a bit like watching a half-season series in book form.


I liked that it was kinda corny, that there were a lot of different types of relationships and love forms, and that on the whole, it was positive and hopeful. A bit naive, a bit anvilicious, but exactly the cheery soup that you need sometimes.

Like Reblog Comment
review 2019-11-04 05:47
Record of a Spaceborn Few (Wayfarers #3)
Record of a Spaceborn Few - Becky Chambers

If you’re looking for info on this book’s plot, I’m afraid you’re in the wrong place, as it’s unlikely I’ll be able to do much more than gush and sqee incoherently. You see, in my bookish universe, Becky Chambers is the Empress of Warm Fuzzy Blanket Sci-Fi. I love her writing so much that I have trouble articulating my feelings for her books. Even though she’s writing about spaceships, aliens, sentient AIs, and spacefaring people, the sci-fi elements never distract me from the story. It’s the personal journeys of the characters that take center stage, and I’m never ready for the books to end. They really are warm fuzzy sci-fi blankets straight from the dryer. Who doesn’t want to wrap themselves in that?


Maybe Chambers’ version of humanity’s future is too idealized (which feels funny to say considering in the Wayfarers universe humanity had to flee Earth after thoroughly trashing the planet and beg handouts from more technologically advanced species to survive), but in the flaming dumpster fire that is present-day Earth, I really appreciate some idealistic optimism. I appreciate it a lot.

Like Reblog Comment
review 2019-07-14 00:09
A Closed and Common Orbit - Becky Chambers

I really enjoyed this story, I enjoyed the first story and this is a sequel, but with only a few of the characters that appear in the first story. When I started I was a little put out that it wasn't the same characters again. However this is an interesting read and drew me in and kept me reading.
Again it's more a soft sci-fi story rather than hard SF and some of the science employs a lot of handwavium but I just let the story flow and enjoyed the ride.
This series has been excellent and I really need to buy book 3, even though I got these free as part of the Hugo Ballot I purchased the first two books after reading the first one.

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?