To Be Taught If Fortunate by Becky Chambers – 5/5 Stars

To Be Taught If Fortunate by Becky Chambers - Front Cover

‘If I ask what I’m asking only of people who agree with me at the outset, with whom I already share a dream and a language, then there is no point asking at all.’

What is it?

To Be Taught If Fortunate (TBTIF) is a concise novel about team space exploration, so for those wishing to make a comparison to The Martian, it’s not a one-man survival on Mars. Using ‘somaforming’ instead of terraforming to make the explorers themselves adapted to the environment, we’re introduced to a new way of thinking on how space exploration can be carried out.

Who is TBTIF for?

If you’re looking for a violent military space opera, TBTIF is the wrong sort of book for that, having a tone of empathy, collaboration, research, and educational wonder.

If you’ve dreamt of what might be out there in space, what trials would wait, and on the meaning of life that transcends what we experience on Earth, I’d say this is the book for you.

Easy to grow fondness for

I learnt so much just in the first 13 pages about how sitting morgue-like frozen in space without a private chamber is unrealistic, unlike what you see in the movies, and of the radiation and cancer-risk danger of flying above the surface of the Earth 100 miles, never mind in space.

We slowly come to generate fondness for some of the characters: innocent main protagonist Ariadne, firm and leader-like Elena, child-like Chikondi, and gruff and irascible Jack. Indeed, Elena has the most personality, being a stickler for double-checking, keeping fixed routines without interruption, and asserting her knowledge in a way that can facilitate the team’s decisions.


I didn’t feel anything was missing in TBTIF, and I was surprised at how relatable and interesting the prose was, even though it covers topics that are anything but relatable to laypeople. Nice book.

Becky Chambers’ Website

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