The Calculating Stars

The Calculating Stars

Book - 2018
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Mary Robinette Kowal's science fiction debut, 2019 Winner of the Hugo and Nebula Award for best novel, The Calculating Stars , explores the premise behind her award-winning "Lady Astronaut of Mars."

Winner 2018 Nebula Award for Best Novel
Winner 2019 Locus Award for Best Novel
Winner 2019 Hugo Award for Best Novel
Finalist 2019 Campbell Memorial Award
Finalist 2021 Hugo Award for Best Series

Locus Trade Paperback Bestseller List

Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2018--Science Fiction/Fantasy
Winner 2019 RUSA Reading List for Science Fiction -- American Library Association
Locus 2018 Recommended Reading List

Buzzfeed--17 Science-Fiction Novels By Women That Are Out Of This World

Locus Bestseller List

Chicago Review of Books --Top 10 Science Fiction Books of 2018
Goodreads --Most Popular Books Published in July 2018 (#66)
The Verge --12 fantastic science fiction and fantasy novels for July 2018
Unbound Worlds --Best SciFi and Fantasy Books of July 2018
Den of Geek --Best Science Fiction Books of June 2018
Publishers Weekly --Best SFF Books of 2018
Omnivoracious --15 Highly Anticipated SFF Reads for Summer 2018
Past Magazine --Best Novels of 2018
Bookriot --Best Science Fiction Books of 2018
The Library Thing --Top 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 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.

Publisher: New York : Tor, 2018
ISBN: 9780765378385
Branch Call Number: SF KOW
Characteristics: 431 p. ;,21 cm


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Sep 18, 2020

The background premise (major meteorite strike in 1952) is interesting but is not adequately expanded upon. The early and accelerated space race that ensues is not even remotely credible as an effort to "colonize space" in the time-frame anticipated. However this book is really focused on social issues of the time (sexism and racism) and does I think offer a fair treatment of those. I can believe that it also captures the spirit that existed at NASA in the early days of the cold war space race, with its reliance on "human computers". However I am quite surprised that this book won the Hugo award.

Aug 30, 2020

This was a book with a promising premise, and ties to KC, which I was enthused about. However, the book doesn't do much with either of those things. It is not well written, there are way too many head scratching moments, and the dialog is wholly unbelievable. The characters don't make sense. There are many cringeworthy sexual discussions by main characters. I really wanted to like this book but it just doesn't deliver.

Aug 17, 2020

In the early 1950s, a meteorite strikes Earth causing cataclysmic damage and plunging the world straight toward an extinction event. Non-communist countries from around the world unite in a space race to save humanity. A female pilot and NASA calculator, who first predicted the coming extinction event, dreams of becoming an astronaut and has all the necessary qualifications except she is a woman. Can she change the minds of those in charge?

An engaging alternate history that is well-paced with just the right balance of science, social issues, and compelling characters and situations to keep the reader turning pages late into the night. I loved it, despite my intense dislike of "space" books.

Jul 07, 2020

I finally got around to reading this series, after keeping on the back-burner for a few years. Yes, they move at a slower pace than a lot of today's speculative fiction. Much of the content will seem quaint to any reader who didn't start their scifi journey reading old paperbacks and library binding classics from the golden age when they were teenagers in the pre-1990s.

I decided to enjoy these as deliberate celebrations of that original scifi style, and they are great! Think of them as scifi that might have been written to be serialized in a Good Housekeeping magazine in an alternate history where WWII ended the same but differently, Washington DC is destroyed by a meteor strike, and the UN handles spaces exploration . Yes, the sex scenes are bit golly-gee, and almost entirely heterosexual cisgender (at least in the first book). And, the anxiety/medication subplot feels a bit out of place, but mostly because it comes across as a feminine issue, rather than a personal issue. While Kowal addresses racial issues in a way that wasn't in most golden age fiction, it still feels a bit out of step with where we are now in 2020.

JCLHebahA May 11, 2020

Another great speculative alternate history from one of my favorite authors. Hits the right blend of crunchy sci fi (Kowal did a ton of research with NASA, and it shows) with the softer, human aspect well represented with a sympathetic heroine. Bonus: Kansas City is integral to the story as the nation's new capitol after the meteor destroys Washington D.C.

Apr 17, 2020

I was over-hyped on this one. For 'feminism meets the space race', it was so, so, so much of a picture of the inside of a woman with a severe anxiety disorder's mind. What got me to read the series was the fantastic premise, of which roughly 1% of the book mentions. I wanted to read about the fallout of the meteor hit on human society, I wanted to read about a woman conquering the space race, both things I thought were the main antagonists of the story. Nope, the main antagonist is her fear of public speaking and not being a 1950's good wife. It was like she was living two lives. All her actions and random events took her down the women are strong path, but all her thoughts hold her back from that path. It was hard to read someone do that to herself. Oh, and many awkward sex scenes.

Apr 04, 2020

I can only describe this book as a mutant child of "The Hidden Figures" and "Twilight" that should not have been allowed to live. I wanted to claw my eyes out while reading that. Do yourself a favour and skip on reading this one.

RyanR_KCMO Nov 08, 2019

As an alternate history this book was fantastic. The main characters development was glacial but inspiring and rewarding. This is a great book for anyone who wants to be frustrated with how idiotic the treatment of women was in the 1960s or is curious in the cringy way that two scientists/engineers engage in sexy-talk.

Oct 04, 2019

Love those alternate history stories. Check out the grapic novel based on the hit 1970s TV show: "SPACE 1999" while waiting for this one. Available from SPL

Oct 04, 2019

While its premise of alternate history and extinction event meteorite strike is science fiction, the story of astronauts is decidedly based in fact. The author acknowledges a debt of experts who proofed the details, but she told the story and plot in her own way. It is a great collaborative work I gave up fact checking and anachronism checking because it was all accurate. The protagonist was a delight to read, and all the ancillary characters were well written and integral to the part. At around 400 pages, it was a fast read, and has me thinking about the whiteness of the NASA program, and how I never questioned it myself. That. Is what sets this novel apart- a fun read with history that cause you to think.

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Jul 31, 2019

When I came up alongside him, he put a hand on the doorknob and suddenly smiled as if we were the best of friends. The speed with which he turned on the charm left me chilled.
Parker threw the door open, holding it for me to walk through. Of course he would hold the door and smile, now that there were witnesses.

Jul 31, 2019

You’d think that at some point the grief would stop. I put my hand over my mouth and leaned forward, as if I could somehow fold over the pain and keep it from escaping into the world again.

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