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Our Discussion of The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

The Calculating Stars (Lady Astronaut Universe #1) 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. Goodreads.

Below are a sampling of our comments:

  • I was annoyed by it – I grew up in those times. This was heavy-handed in depicting the sexism and discrimination.
  • I enjoyed it – it was very true to the actual development of the space program, just accelerated. They were still using human computers like in Hidden Figures.
  • The issues from that timeframe were addressed, not like in The Foundation where there are only two female characters in the book and one is called, “Slave Girl.”
  • Elma kept pointing out that if they want a colony women must be included and it took an extinction event for that to happen.
  • Elma’s husband Nathaniel was a “Mary Sue” character – good at everything. The sex scenes were weirdly juvenile. They seemed out of a different book, they were Twilight level.
  • I enjoyed the book – I grew up during the space program and it was all men. I liked how women used their social networks and any contacts they had to get ahead, like the “99 Clubs.”
  • I appreciated the use of the newspaper headlines to show the passage of time.
  • It was fortunate that the Secretary of Agriculture became the President because he understood the gravity of the situation.
  • The meteor was just a set up – this book was all about women becoming astronauts.

Please add any additional thoughts or comments you have about The Calculating Stars. We gave this title the codes ALT, HDS, FEM, HRO, BAC, HOME, CAP & INC and an average rating of 3.75.

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