This novella is an amazingly humane glance at what science fiction also has to offer. It blesses the reader with hope, inspiration, and empathy for human exploration of space and the big Why.
I really enjoyed the way Becky breathes life into the three scientists and the space engineer Ariadne in their journey commissioned by the citizen-cooperative space program known as OCA. She is exceptionally good in crafting relatable characters, with wholesome and feel-good souls. I knew this already from reading her book The long way to a small, angry planet last year, for which many people also laud the characters. Where that book was much about learning the different cultures and species from all corners of the galaxy through its characters, To be taught, if fortunate explores humanity through the ethically idealistic version of science, in a fourth-wall-breaking appeal to the reader. It asks us questions of Why. It stops to meditate on where our human curiosity could, and should, take us. And all of this while wholesomely interrogating human emotions.
It is a great novella to read on an afternoon, to rekindle sparks of hope and inspiration in Us as a species, though be it a fictional humanity.