The Calculating Stars (Lady Astronaut) ペーパーバック – 2018/7/3
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Mary Robinette Kowal's science fiction debut, The Calculating Stars, explores the premise behind her award-winning "Lady Astronaut of Mars."
Hugo Finalist for Best Novel
Nebula Finalist for Best Novel
Locus Trade Paperback Bestseller List
Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2018Science Fiction/Fantasy
Winner 2019 RUSA Reading List for Science FictionAmerican Library Association
Locus 2018 Recommended Reading List
Buzzfeed17 Science-Fiction Novels By Women That Are Out Of This World
Locus Bestseller List
Chicago Review of BooksTop 10 Science Fiction Books of 2018
GoodreadsMost Popular Books Published in July 2018 (#66)
The Verge12 fantastic science fiction and fantasy novels for July 2018
Unbound WorldsBest SciFi and Fantasy Books of July 2018
Den of GeekBest Science Fiction Books of June 2018
Publishers WeeklyBest SFF Books of 2018
Omnivoracious15 Highly Anticipated SFF Reads for Summer 2018
Past MagazineBest Novels of 2018
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The Library ThingTop Five Books of 2018
On a cold spring night in 1952, a huge meteorite fell to earth and obliterated much of the east coast of the United States, including Washington D.C. The ensuing climate cataclysm will soon render the earth inhospitable for humanity, as the last such meteorite did for the dinosaurs. This looming threat calls for a radically accelerated effort to colonize space, and requires a much larger share of humanity to take part in the process.
Elma Yorks experience as a WASP pilot and mathematician earns her a place in the International Aerospace Coalitions attempts to put man on the moon, as a calculator. But with so many skilled and experienced women pilots and scientists involved with the program, it doesnt take long before Elma begins to wonder why they cant go into space, too.
Elmas drive to become the first Lady Astronaut is so strong that even the most dearly held conventions of society may not stand a chance against her.
Praise for The Calculating Stars
"This is what NASA never had, a heroine with attitude."--The Wall Street Journal
"In The Calculating Stars, Mary Robinette Kowal imagines an alternate history of spaceflight that reminds me of everything I loved about Hidden Figures."--Cady Coleman, Astronaut
"The Lady Astronaut series might be set in an alternate past, but they're cutting-edge SF novels that speak volumes about the present."--The Verge
"Fans of [Hidden Figures] will definitely find something to like in this novel."--SF Revu
"Readers will thrill to the story of this "lady astronaut" and eagerly anticipate the promised sequels."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Kowal's book was revelatory for me, because here is a version of history where men eventually, finally, listen to women."--Tor.com
"If you like: lady scientists and lady astronauts, space science, lovely romance, the historical fight for equality, if you read or watched Hidden Figures and loved it, if you watched the Netlfix's documentary Mercury 13 (about the very real 13 women who underwent secret testing to become Astronauts in the 60s), please don't miss this one."--Kirkus
"A fine balance of integrating historical accuracy--including mid-twentieth-century sexism, racism, and technology--with speculative storytelling."--Booklist
"Readers will be hooked."--Library Journal
"Kowal has produced a novel that sheds light on how we can build a better future."--Escapist Magazine
"I couldn't put this paperback down, and I was mad at everything that kept me away from it."--While Reading and Walking
"This is a book about fortitude, about preservation, and strength in the face of injustice, resilience as a flag against oppression and politics. Parts of this book makes me cry. I cry in rage, in defiance, in support, and in triumph."--Utopia State of Mind
"An engrossing alternate history with a unique point of view, The Fated Sky dramatically demonstrates the technical problems with going to Mars--but the technical problems are the not the only ones. Never backing down from vital issues of race and gender, The Fated Sky confronts the human issues of space travel in a United States made increasingly desperate by a massive meteor strike. Plausible, convincing, and ultimately moving."--Nancy Kress, author of the Hugo Award-winning "Yesterday's Kin"商品の説明をすべて表示する
It's really not a badly written exploration of life in the 50's, and the struggles women and people of color had just to be taken seriously, but that novel could have been written just as well without the world threatening opening. It just seemed light and trivial. Antisemitism even pops up later in the book - for about a page - but then, "Oops, never mind, I didn't mean to be antisemitic. Sorry!." "Oh, you were just being a grump. We forgive you! Group hug!"
It just came across as too light in general. I doubt I'd bother with any other books in the series.
Protagonist Elma Wexler York and her husband Nathaniel are taking a brief semi-honeymoon, prior to returning to jobs with the newly founded National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics in Washington, DC. He is an engineer, she a mathematician, although that title is not used for her. Rather, she and her fellows are called computers. Both served during WWII, he as an Army captain, she as a WASP.
Although the catastrophic meteorite ocean strike offshore Washington DC, at 9:53 AM on March 3rd, 1952, is the foundation of the story, this story diverged from our timeline before that event. We are told that Dewey actually did defeat Truman, and also that NACA has launched three satellites. No additional background is provided, but the author explains that she made the changes so that Wernher von Braun and his crew could receive funding from a Dewey Administration.
Elma pilots the couple to the nearest open airfield. There they meet with Air Force colonel Stetson Parker. He is delighted to see Nathaniel, as he believes that the catastrophe may be a result of a Russian rocket attack, and wants to use his expertise to prepare a counter-attack. He is far from pleased to see Elma, though, as he believes she reported him for sexual harassment ('conduct unbecoming for an officer') when they happened to be serving in the same area during WWII. NOTE: Throughout the book, he remains the Bad Guy.
Elma is able to gather data which predicts global extinction within 50 years. The nascent American space program is funded to research immediate development of off-planet colonies. NACA is absorbed into the new International Aerospace Coalition, IAC.
Elma recruits a cadre of women, including some black aviators, as well as a Chinese woman, to run the calculations necessary to develop the hardware for the space program. She is also preparing the women to participate fully in the operational aspects of the program, by the formation of a women's flying club.
Elma's contact with the black women opens her eyes to the segregation in the system. The refusal of the IAC administration to consider women for training as Lady Astronauts, as well as the exclusion of non-white candidates, and her efforts to overcome that choice, provides the text for the remainder of the book.
Stories classed as science fiction absolutely get to take liberty with facts. Even so, at points, the narrative seems stretched.
I think the author is wildly optimistic about implementing race- and gender-free recruiting for military programs in a post-meteor US.
Three of the Lady Astronaut trainees participate in an exercise which simulates an aircraft crashing in water. The “Dilbert Dunker” is a real device used in training, but in this scene, the women are given bikinis to wear, instead of a flight suit, and are photographed by a horde of reporters as they go through the process. I found the scene to be clownish and grotesque, and it utterly took me out of the narrative.
The novel is written in first person, and our narrator is Elma York, mathematician and wife of Nathaniel York. She is a computer - AKA a human mathematician hired to compute stuff, in this case space launch trajectories. She's also a former WASP, a group of women hired to ferry military airplanes around in WWII. This comes in handy, as her piloting skills allow her and her husband to survive the impact.
She eventually decides that she wants to be am astronaut, and that's where the conflict is. This is the 1950s, and women are supposed to be in the kitchen, not in space. Oh, and Elma suffers from anxiety, for which she is eventually proscribed Miltown.
This set of circumstances makes for a fascinating read. Mary gets to explore sexism, racism (blacks were computers too) and mental health while writing a gripping and entertaining book. It's very eye-opening for me, a straight white dude, to see the problems facing people like Elma - people who can and do contribute greatly.
Mary takes a few liberties with history, notably having Dewey defeat Truman in 1948. (Well, that and the asteroid.) However, one thing she is true to - most of the math that got men into orbit was done by hand, mostly by women. It's a fascinating detail. Overall, I highly recommend this book.