The Calculating Stars (Lady Astronaut, #1) by Mary Robinette Kowal

The Calculating Stars (Lady Astronaut, #1)

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 ...

Details The Calculating Stars (Lady Astronaut, #1)

TitleThe Calculating Stars (Lady Astronaut, #1)
Release DateJul 3rd, 2018
PublisherTor Books
GenreScience Fiction, Fiction, Alternate History, Historical, Historical Fiction, Adult

Reviews The Calculating Stars (Lady Astronaut, #1)

  • Philip
    3.75ish stars.Mary Robinette Kowal writes some incredible female characters. And they're not stock "strong female" characters either, they're real. In this case Elma is brilliant and capable, but doesn't go on a tirade overthrowing the '50s sexist patriarchy because Kowal wisely wanted to represent things as they actually happened, even in this alt-history where she really could have done whatever she wanted. It's impressively well researched and...
  • Manuel Antão
    If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.Opposable Thumbs: “The Calculating Stars” by Mary Robinette Kowal“There is nothing to see but that vast blackness. Intellectually, I know that we’ve passed into the dark side of the Earth. We slide into her shadow and then magic fills the sky. The stars come out. Millions of them in crisp, vivid splendor. These are not the stars that I remember from before the Meteor. These are ...
  • Bradley
    I'll go out on a limb here and be mightily surprised if this novel doesn't get nommed for Hugo out of this year's candidates. It has all the right qualities, from good writing, exciting story, delicious premise, and timely application of hot topics and social issues.Huh? Well, it's like an alternate reality where a meteorite wipes out DC in the 1950's and forces everyone to get into gear with the space program for the best of all reasons... SURVI...
  • Trish
    I've read the short story of this series some time ago and was speechless by how wonderful it was. Naturally, I had to give the novel a chance. And I certainly didn't regret it!In March 1952, a meteorite strikes Earth. It lands in a body of water which, as it turns out, is even worse than if it had hit land. The protagonist, Elma, is on vacation with her husband (they are newly weds) in some mountains. He's an engineer and responsible for a US sa...
  • Richard Derus
    Yep. All five. What a wonderful ride this book was. I'll say more later.***LATER***A good, solid alternate history; a very involving story; characters I can believe in, invest in, and even identify with; and an author whose capabilities, established in earlier books, make the catharsis of reading this book as bracing as a pitcher of 'tinis.The Lady Astronaut of Mars, book 2.5 in the series that (chronologically) begins with this book, won the 201...
  • Lindsay
    A beautifully researched and told alternate version of the space race from the point of view of brilliant woman pilot, scientist and mathematician with dreams of going to space.It's 1952, and Elma and Nathaniel Wexler are vacationing in the mountains when a massive meteorite strikes just off the US coast in Chesepeake Bay. Much of the East Coast, including Washington DC is destroyed or flooded, and it's only Elma's and Nathaniel's quick thinking ...
  • Justine
    Definitely one of my favourite books of 2018.And to think I considered giving this a miss. I'm interested in space, but an alternate history of space exploration? What a colossal mistake giving this a pass would have been.This is a masterful alt history set in the 1950's that illuminates the very real issues of discrimination. Elma's character suffers painfully from discrimination because she is a woman. On top of that she is fighting a personal ...
  • Evelina | AvalinahsBooks
    I'm always excited to read astronaut books, as you might know from my posts like this one, this one or this one. So I was even more excited to read one where women fight their ground to get to be astronauts. As it turned out, it was not an easy fight, even if it's one written in an alternate 50's Earth. The Calculating Stars is no bright and easy read, but it deals with some really important topics, and is also very engaging and strong. I loved...
  • Anthony
    This is a stirring and surprisingly intimate exploration of an inspired “what-if?” scenario: what if a globally-scaled natural disaster accelerated our space program? The resulting story feels extremely authentic and altogether possible, grounded by the entirely relatable narrator, a genius but altogether human Lady Astronaut. It’s incredibly refreshing to encounter a character whose intelligence and courage don’t always protect her from ...
  • Matthew Galloway
    This novel was utterly fantastic. I cursed every hour of work that kept me away from it!The plot of the novel -- a devastating meteor strike means that Earth must accelerate the space program -- is fascinating enough. Then you throw in the diversity and the civil rights issues and the awful sexism that needs to go away for it all to be successful and that makes the book even better. But what makes this absolutely stunning is the voice. Elma is ju...
  • Carmen Bollinger
    This book covers a lot: feminism, mental health, civil rights, and climate change, just to name a few things.I'm a sucker for alternative history, and this starts out as that: a meteorite takes out Washington, D.C. in 1952. The space race is on, but with a twist---the lady "computers" get a much bigger role. Engaging read, fast-paced, with real *jargon* written by actual astronauts. Great for fans of Stephenson's "Seven Eves," "Hidden Figures," a...
  • Robyn
    I just loved this. A very very real alternate history of the space program, starting in a disaster that lends it much more of an urgency than a Cold War race to the stars. Features a wonderful main character!
  • Carla Estruch
    Agarraos, que viene reseña larga. Esta novela de Mary Robinette Kowal me ha enganchado de principio a fin. Prueba de ello es que anoche la terminara a las cuatro de la madrugada. Pero vayamos por partes.TRAMA: Supongo que aquí es donde debo avisaros de que, si buscáis una novela de ciencia ficción en el espacio, desechad la idea. The Calculating Stars es una ucronía ambientada en los años 50. ¿Qué cambia? Pues que choca un meteorito en la...
  • Gabrielle
    Earlier this year, I read "The Lady Astronaut of Mars" by Mary Robinette Kowal ( and fell in love with Elma York really hard. That tiny little story packed such a huge punch about love, grief, passion and space: it took me a few days to recover... and it was less than 50 pages! When I heard there would be two upcoming Lady Astronaut novels, I actually screamed. And dropped everything else I was reading alm...
  • Cathy (cathepsut)
    At first glance a story about the apocalypse—a meteor strikes Earth in the 1950s with devastating longterm effects. At second glance this is more an exploration of discrimination against women and persons of colour in that time in the US. And an exploration of the Space Race, this time not against the Russians, but against the end of the world.A quarter into the book I wasn’t sure, if I liked the book or the main protagonist. Well written, a ...
  • Colin Forbes
    I realise that my somewhat insipid 3 star rating is at odds with the majority of glowing reviews here.I see what she was trying to do, I really do, but I can't shake the feeling that MRK has tried to squeeze too many issues into one book.Let’s count. Main PoV character, Elma, is discriminated against because she is a woman. Also, people don't understand her Jewish heritage. She has mental health problems. Many of her friends experience racial d...
  • Lata
    After reading about Elma as an old woman in Kowal's "The Lady Astronaut", I knew I had to read this story of an alternative history of space flight. After a literal, huge bang at the start, the book takes us on a character journey, as a young Elma, already an accomplished pilot, becomes a Computer, along with many other women, as part of an international effort to get to space. As this is the 1950s, sexism, racism and Jim Crow are alive and well,...
  • Jenny Baker
    *Read-along with the paperback and audiobook.*My first reading experience with Mary Robinete Kowal was last year when I read Ghost Talkers. I loved the novel so much that when I saw she released a new novel, I knew I had to read it. I’m so glad that I did, because I loved it!The Calculating Stars is just as entertaining as Ghost Talkers. This alternative history novel takes place in the 1950s. A meteorite hits Earth destroying much of the east ...
  • Shaun Hutchinson
    I really enjoyed this. I'm a sucker for books involving space, and I loved the enthusiastic geekery that runs throughout the entire book. What a gem.
  • Jenne
    Super cool premise! But it felt like she was trying so hard to do justice to the women who inspired the story, that actually it got in the way of it feeling realistic.
  • Rachel (Kalanadi)
    Video review!
  • Boostamonte Halvorsen
    This book was okay. Nothing amazing though. Here's why: I've read something like this, and it was better. It was different, but the overall premise is the same. I point you toward Neal Stephenson's Seveneves. His book is so much better than this one. Yes, I agree that they are different in a lot of ways, but fundamentally, they are about saving the human race as the planet dies, with women being the key to the success. Mary's book empowers women,...
  • George
    As a Docent at the Virginia Air and Space Center, I educate folks every day about Katherine Johnson's (Hidden Figures) involvement and amazing contribution to our Space Program's success in the 60's and early 70's. Unfortunately, part of that story is her struggles as a woman and, to make matters more difficult, one "of color." This tale centers on a woman, Jewish by religion, and her struggles to maximize the value of her unique skill set, not d...
  • Sarah
    Group read with SFFBC! I read it earlier than planned because it’s due back today but oh my gosh I want to sit here and gush for twenty paragraphs.The first thing I want to say is that there are other short stories set in this alternate space flight history, and I believe they are all available online for free. I started with: The Lady Astronaut of Mars, and it was absolutely beautiful and a reminder that fiction doesn’t need to be long to be...
  • Christina Pilkington
    How important were women to the space race in the US? Would we we even be where we are today without them? If so, why don't we know more about their contributions?After the popularity of the movie Hidden Figures, based on a book of the same title, more people have become aware of women's role in NASA and the space industry. The fact that these women, especially the African American women, were hardly recognized for their work, paid significantly ...
  • Rhode
    One of the best books of the year. I stayed up well past midnight gulping it down. The researched details, the emotional resonance, the gosh. It’s absolutely grounded in (but never bogged down by) science, history and the realities of what the space program was and would have been. This is brilliant historic sf. I feel as though I really was there in the space program myself.I’ll admit it was tough in some parts, not so much becau...
  • Nacho Iribarnegaray
    Qué maravilla de libro. Leedlo mucho. Leedlo varias veces seguidas. Oíd el audiolibro narrado por la autora. Comprad el segundo libro. Todo el Sí.
  • Allison Hurd
    An endearing, enraging, hope-filled alt-history where the "what if" is that a meteorite wipes out Washington DC and most of the east coast, starts a highly escalated version of global warming and kicks off the space program.CONTENT WARNING (no actual spoilers, just a list of topics): (view spoiler)[ misogyny, racism, anti-Semitism, mental health stigma. (hide spoiler)]Things to love:-Elma. Plucky, flawed but earnest, and incredibly brilliant, she...