Book reviews / Science Fiction

Book review: To be taught, if fortunate

The thing I absolutely love about everything I’ve read by Becky Chambers is that it’s always so god damn hopeful. There really isn’t enough of hopefulness in explorations of the future right now and I crave it.

The novella follows four astronauts who travel to distant planets. They manage to adapt to the potential new environment while in transit in a ‘torpor’. Sometimes they just have more protection against UV, sometimes more muscle mass, sometimes, they glitter. It’s all funded by citizen science in a future that is potentially not very far away. It’s funded by hope. Bloody hell I love it.

The descriptions of the planets and the things they find are wonderful, but they aren’t what really propels the story. Rather it’s the humans that do the exploring is what really make it worth reading.

It’s all told through a report, sent from the mission team to Earth – I won’t tell you the reason for the report as it would ruin the novella. Through the report, you experience the highs and lows of discovery, the joys and despairs of the crew. The sense of wonder is embedded into the story and it is absolutely wonderful. I feel uplifted by this story in ways that I rarely do (except apparently when reading Becky Chambers’ novels).

It feels like the best of us, but not in an unrealistic way. Idealistic, scientific, ethical, honourable, loving but rooted in what can make humans amazing. Even when bad things happen, even when things seem hopeless, there is still wonder, there is still discovery.

It’s a very quick read and I highly recommend it, to take you away from frustrations of right now and the dystopian landscape that seem to permeate science fiction at the moment.

Just so lovely. Absolutely adored it.

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