To Be Taught, If Fortunate

Harper Voyager. Sept. 2019. 176p. ISBN 9780062936011. pap. $12.99ebk. ISBN 9780062936028. SF
Ariadne O’Neill is a flight engineer aboard the spacecraft Meridian, part of the Lawki program, exploring four planets that are light years outside the sun’s orbit. Using a long-period suspension system called topor, and a body-enhancing process called somaforming, the crew will be able make an 80-year journey and return to Earth while only aging a few years. As the group begins their exploration of the planets, alien life and fauna are discovered, documented, and sometimes destroyed. But as time-delayed reports come from Earth, the changes that Ari and the team can only bear witness to soon trigger psychological repercussions, leaving them to wonder if they will have a home, however changed, to go back to, and if anyone will remember them.
VERDICT Grasping current and potential future trends and winding them into her accessible hard science plot, Hugo Award nominee Chambers creates an energy of hope and determination with every word, bringing life to space travel and the wonders—and traumas—of Earth’s possible future. [See Prepub Alert, 3/17/19.]
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