Book review: Calculating Stars

Kuiper does a (Hugo nominated!) book review. ? Also, pie. ? Neither are sponsored. ?

Kuiper is proud to be a card carrying member of the Lady Astronaut Club (swipe.) If you’ve been enjoying our history posts, you’ll likely also enjoy alternate 50s space history novels Calculating Stars and Fated Sky, written by Mary Robinette Kowal.

The premise is that a giant meteorite drops on Washington DC in 1952. This not only wipes out DC and much of the Eastern Seaboard, but it also results in greatly accelerated climate change (and thus a greatly accelerated space program.)

♥️ 100% more lady astronauts than real 50s/60s history, without shying away from very real issues of gender, racial and religious discrimination
♥️ Exquisite attention to detail. Mary Robinette has done an incredible amount of research for her novels. I recognized lots of little nods to early American space history, including a bunch of tiny details I haven’t had room to incorporate given Instagram’s 2200 character limit
♥️ The author also interviewed a bunch of current generation astronauts and observed them training underwater at the Neutral Buoyancy Lab
♥️ Audio versions of the books are narrated by the author herself, who is a marvelous voice actor (and puppeteer!) in real life
♥️ I learned that chess pies are a thing and that I need them in my life

♥️ I kept wondering: What happened to the refugees’ pets after the Meteorite? I don’t recall seeing any mention of them, or pets at all. Did any of them make it out safe with their people? If this had happened on our roadtrip to/from DC, man…
♥️ THE BAG. OMG. (I actually thought this was fascinating, but I had to put the book down for a min…)

If you’d like a quick introduction to the series, the Lady Astronaut of Mars novella is available for just $1 on Kindle. It’s a quick little read but impactful; I will neither confirm nor deny whether it made someone who was TOTALLY not me tear up. But you don’t have to take my word for it! ??

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