You Are Part of This Story – To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers

Kate says… I love finding something different.

“If you read nothing else we’ve sent home, please at least read this.”

Thus begins the message that you, a future resident of Earth, receive. The astronauts who sent the message have something important to show you.

Descriptions make this book. With Ariadne O’Neill and her three crewmates, you wake from the long torpor that allowed you to cross interstellar space to explore alien worlds. You inspect your somaformed body, which has been adjusted to the environment of your next stop, and are the first human to step onto an unknown planet. Your crewmates feel as real as the worlds you explore. You’re immersed in this gentle tale.

Not that nothing happens. You explore four alien worlds, discover delightful and alarming life forms, and share the psychological hazards that threaten astronauts in space. You’ll be faced with an existential decision, and I don’t know if I could be as brave and honorable as Ariadne. There’s even a bit of chiral chemistry that you don’t have to be a chemist to enjoy it. (Though if you are a chemist, you may skim a few pages.)

Then there’s Earth. What’s happening back home as you spend decades in space?

The crew has important questions for you at the end. Questions for you as a future-earthling and you in real-life. That’s what makes this engaging story truly special. If you’re a science geek or simply interested in space, you’ll love these questions. Take time to answer them for yourself, because you’ll choose the ending of the story.

I read every word of this short novella and loved it. For some reason I can’t fathom, Amazon has listed it in some LGBT categories, but there’s no reason to avoid sharing the story with readers of all ages.

I read science fiction as much for the world-building as for the stories. Reality makes a handy starting point for places that feel real and for characters that make sense. Some good stories hand-wave away how big – really, really big – the galaxy is, and the problems physics imposes, and those stories can be fun, but there’s something special about a tale that could actually happen. As a writer, I enjoy the research that forms the bedrock of, for example, Mars in my colonization series. When the action steps off into imagination, I’m eager to follow.

Begin your journey at Amazon (10/29/2019)

As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Tags: Hard Science Fiction, Alien Life, Space, Spaceships, Young Adult, Middle School

One Reply to “You Are Part of This Story – To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers”

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