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About The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

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 York’s experience as a WASP pilot and mathematician earns her a place in the International Aerospace Coalition’s 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 doesn’t take long before Elma begins to wonder why they can’t go into space, too.

Elma’s 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.


Review of The Calculating Stars

The Calculating Stars is Scifi that takes place in 1950’s America. A giant meteorite hitting the eastern coast of the United States is soon determine to be the precursor to extinction. In response, the United States, and eventually the world, ramp up the space program in order to find a place for humans on some other world.

Wow! Such a great story! A lot of research was done to make the story of an early aggressive space program seem real and vital. Told from the POV of the woman destined to be the first Lady Astronaut, the story reflects attitudes toward women and minorities in the 50s. So, our heroine and her friends have a lot to overcome.

Elma York’s background as a WASP and as a mathematician becomes critical to the space program and to getting women into the astronaut training. Luckily, she has a very supportive husband (chief International Aerospace Coalition engineer), since pretty much all of the other men are not at all understanding of Elma’s drive to go to space.

If you enjoyed Hidden Figures (book or movie), you will appreciate the how the author set up the space program, both the organizational standpoint and the sociological setting.

I wish I had read this book two years ago when it first came out. The story is beautifully told, illustrating Elma’s successes and failures along with the story of the space program and its development. I read this book and plan to read The Fated Sky (book 2) in anticipation of the upcoming 3rd book in the series. Read this book if you enjoy earth-based Scifi. Read it for the feminist insights. Read it if you like your Scifi to embrace hope. Read The Calculating Stars just want to enjoy a great story!



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