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Cover image for The calculating stars
Format:
Title:
The calculating stars
ISBN:
9780765378385
Edition:
First edition.
Publication:
New York, NY : Tor, a Tom Doherty Associates Book, 2018.
Physical Description:
431 pages ; 21 cm
Series title(s):
Number in series:
bk. 1
Summary:
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.
Holds:

Available:*

Library
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SCI-FI Kowal, M.
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SF Kowal, M. Calculating
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FIC (SF) KOWAL 2018
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SCI-FI KOWAL
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SF KOWAL Mary
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Kowal
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Summary

Summary

A meteor decimates the U.S. government and paves the way for a climate cataclysm that will eventually render the earth inhospitable to humanity. This looming threat calls for a radically accelerated timeline in the earth's efforts to colonize space, as well as an unprecedented opportunity for a much larger share of humanity to take part. One of these new entrants in the space race is Elma York, whose experience as a WASP pilot and mathematician earns her a place in the International Aerospace Coalition's attempts to put man on the moon. 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--aside from some pesky barriers like thousands of years of history and a host of expectations about the proper place of the fairer sex. And yet, Elma's drive to become the first Lady Astronaut is so strong that even the most dearly held conventions may not stand a chance.


Author Notes

Mary Robinette Kowal is the 2008 recipient of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, a multiple Hugo winner, and a frequent finalist for the Nebula and Locus Awards. A professional puppeteer and voice actor, she spent five years touring nationally with puppet theatres. She lives in Chicago with her husband Rob and nine manual typewriters.


Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

Kowal's outstanding prequel to her Hugo-winning novelette "The Lady Astronaut of Mars" shows the alternate history that created a mid-20th-century Mars colony. In 1952, mathematician and pilot Elma York is on vacation with her rocket scientist husband, Nathaniel, when a meteor strikes Chesapeake Bay, obliterating most of the East Coast. Elma quickly realizes that this is an extinction event, and that the only option for humanity's survival is off-world colonization. In a compelling parallel to our own history, Elma, who is Jewish, fights to have women of all races and backgrounds included in the burgeoning space program, squaring off against patriarchal attitudes, her own anxiety, and an adversary from her past service as a war pilot. Kowal explores a wide range of issues-including religion, grief, survivor's guilt, mental health, racism, misogyny, and globalism-without sermonising or subsuming the characters and plot. Elma's struggles with her own prejudices and relationships, including her relationship with herself, provide a captivating human center to the apocalyptic background. Readers will thrill to the story of this "lady astronaut" and eagerly anticipate the promised sequels. Agent: Jennifer Jackson, Donald Maass Literary. (July) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Kirkus Review

Veteran historical fantasist Kowal (Ghost Talkers, 2016, etc.) tackles an alternate history of the space race, in which a catastrophe necessitates an earlier reach for the starsand the confrontation of gender barriers.In the 1950s, the world nearly ends, first due to a strike from what Elma York will always remind people was a meteorite and then through the resulting climate change. Elma is a physicist, pilot, and human computer; she and her engineer husband, Nathaniel, both work for NASA's predecessor agency. The Meteor, as it comes to be known, destroys Washington, D.C., and most of the East Coast, leaving the survivors to scramble to fill leadership gaps and address the sudden winter brought on by the impact and the devastating greenhouse effect that will follow. Earth may have just decades to live, and both men and women will need to go into space for humanity to survive. Elma fights the sexism and racism of the era as well as her own personal anxieties. The Apollo-era technology is well-researched and well-presented and always feels organicmore organic than the characters. Elma is an obvious genius, ethical to a fault, and sets records at everything she attempts. Her supposed flaw of discomfort with public speaking is apparently not too obvious to anyone but her, as she's lauded by other characters for how well she does it. She advocates for feminism and for women of color with admirable...admirableness, but Elma never really addresses her own privilege. (Nathaniel is even more exemplaryunderstanding, supportive, hot, and perfectly progressive.) With the exception of a misogynist antagonist, the supporting cast is never too deeply developeda shame, given their supposed diversity. The plot hits all its beats dutifully, but don't expect surprises.While there's a fascinating alternate history here of humanity's quest for the stars, it could stand to be told with characters who are a little more human. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

The first half of Kowal's two-book tale The Fated Sky will follow begins in 1952 when a meteorite strikes Earth, causing a global cataclysm. The eastern coast of the U.S. crumbles, and the rest of the world faces a climate shift. A former WASP pilot and a brilliant mathematician, Elma York works for the International Aerospace Coalition, along with her engineer husband, expediting efforts to colonize other planets. Recognizing that she and her female colleagues are just as qualified as the men, Elma fights for their right to become astronauts. She builds momentum for their cause by hosting a women-only air demonstration, speaking on a Bill Nye-type kids show, and passing tests with ridiculous rules her male counterparts would never be asked to endure. Although Kowal's latest is a definite deviation from her popular Glamour Histories series, she once again strikes a fine balance of integrating historical accuracy including mid-twentieth-century sexism, racism, and technology with speculative storytelling. Readers will root for Elma as she breaks barriers and calculates lifesaving equations, all while dealing with sometimes-crippling anxiety. Recommend to fans of realistic sf.--Biz Hyzy Copyright 2018 Booklist


Library Journal Review

In 1952, Elma York and her husband are celebrating their marriage in the Poconos when a meteor strikes, destroying Washington, DC, and most of the eastern seaboard. As a mathematician and WASP pilot, Elma knows the need for space exploration, but now that Earth is poised to fall owing to a climate change of apocalyptic proportions, that timetable has been pushed into the fast lane. Elma wants to be one of those to enter space, and when a program invites women to take the same astronaut training as men, she won't let anything-not family, history, or the attitudes of men regarding the proper place for women-stand in her way. -VERDICT A fast-forward thrill ride, Hugo Award -winner Kowal's ("Glamourist Histories") exciting alternate history, the first in a duology, highlights the space race and the sexism of the time. Sf and space history buffs will enjoy this entertaining tale.-Kristi Chadwick, -Massachusetts Lib. Syst., Northampton © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.