My review of The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

Mary Robinette Kowal is rapidly becoming a must buy author, so when I head that The Calculating Stars was coming out I preordered it right away! The idea of mixing retro futurism and and the same optimism and science approach that you found in The Martian was really intriguing to me and I of course had to review it.

When Hidden Figures came out in 2016, it changed my view of science in a lot of ways. In my head scientist – especially rocket scientists are men, unless I am told otherwise. Hidden Figures, helped me see how weird and unhistorical that vision has been. Mary Robinette Kowal takes the world Hidden Figures showed us and plays in it. The story is set in an alternate past where events conspired to make exploration of space move much faster.

Opening sentence :

“Do you remember where you were when the Meteor hit? I’ve never understood why people phrase it as a question, because of course you remember.”

Title: The Calculating Stars
Author: Mary Robinette Kowal 
First book in the Lady Astronaut series
Genre: Science fiction, space exploration, alternative history

My review of The Calculating Stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The first part of the book, is the best disaster movie, that i never watched. Unlike so many disaster movies, this was actually tense and really interesting.

I loved the characters – especially Elma and Nathaniel’s relationship was amazing. All the supporting characters felt like humans, which was wonderful. They are a happily married couple! The sock and horror! And they are interesting as a couple, even though their relationship is never ever in trouble! We need functional couples in fiction so much!

The cover of The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

Wonderful, just wonderful. Squeee Squeee Squeee

Kowal managed to show a period typical work environment full of sexism and racism, that made you angry for everyone’s struggles – without it being bleak. The Calculating Stars is a really hopeful book – in many ways it reminded me of The Martian. Unlike The Martian though not all of the problems are rooted in nature, some of the problems are created by humans – but for the most part I as the reader understood why those humans made the choices they did – even when I didn’t agree with them (yeah).

Elma is really super competent, but she is by no means perfect. She has real problems and real struggles – like all humans. Some of those problems are of her own making, but she never at any point holds the stupid ball. We get enough of her background to understand why she has the problems she has, without being bugged down with flash backs.

If you find space explorations the least bit interesting, then you should read this – you will like it!

Edit: I forgot to mention that the books are giggle out loud funny

The Stats

Published: 2018 by Tor Books
Read: 5th – 7th October 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 432
The author: female, white, United States
The protagonist: Mathematician, WASP-pilot, female, white, social anxiety

This review was originally posted: October 18, 2018. Updated June 22, 2023





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