153 pgs. - Novella
Goodreads rating: 4.21 - 21,750 ratings
My rating: 5
Setting: different planets way, way, WAY out...
First line/s: "I never knew an Earth that was unaware of life elsewhere."
My comments: Set on a spaceship that has traveled 14 light years through the galaxy to four planets somewhat similar to Earth to research possible lifeforms. To travel, each of the four astronaut/scientists are put into states of torpor, where their body ages very slowly and they can pass through time only aging about 1/10th of what they normally would. That in itself is fascinating, but the science and the philosophy and the relationships between the four people on this mission astounded me. I really loved it.
Ariadne is one such explorer. As an astronaut on an extrasolar research vessel, she and her fellow crewmates sleep between worlds and wake up each time with different features. Her experience is one of fluid body and stable mind and of a unique perspective on the passage of time. Back on Earth, society changes dramatically from decade to decade, as it always does.
Ariadne may awaken to find that support for space exploration back home has waned, or that her country of birth no longer exists, or that a cult has arisen around their cosmic findings, only to dissolve once more by the next waking. But the moods of Earth have little bearing on their mission: to explore, to study, and to send their learnings home.