In this novella set in the not-too-distant future, four astronauts look for life in a galaxy that’s light-years from Earth.
Through somaforming, the four can alter their own biology to fit each new world so as not to alter or interfere with the world itself—a key tenet of their voyage. Their blood can produce antifreeze, their bodies absorb radiation and convert it to nutrition, and their bones can stand up to increases in gravity. The story of their visits to four unique worlds, some filled with the wonder of alien life and others filled with the horror of it, is told by engineer Ariadne O’Neill, who wrestles with the changes to her body and to her knowledge of the universe. When she and her crewmates—Elena Queseda-Cruz, Jack Vo, and Chikondi Daka—lose contact with Earth, they must ultimately decide whether to return home to an uncertain fate or honor their mission and continue to explore new worlds, even if nobody back home is listening…or alive. Chambers (Record of a Spaceborn Few, 2018, etc.) writes with the curiosity of a scientist laced with the wonder of a child in this compelling exploration of home, family, and what makes us human in the midst of all that isn’t, but could be.
An extraordinary picture of humanity among the stars.