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, Adult

Reviews The Calculating Stars (Lady Astronaut, #1)

  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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 ...
  • 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 ...
  • 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...
  • 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 ...
  • 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...
  • 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!
  • Rachel (Kalanadi)
    Video review!
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • Crini
    "We were Lady Astronauts. All of us. And, goddamn it, we were all going to go into space."I was going to read this solely on the fact that I loved the original story "The Lady Astronaut of Mars" (which this book is a prequel of) and didn't even read what it was going to be about exactly, so it was a bit of a surpise how this is more of a historical fiction/alternate history story than (as I thought) a scifi one. That in turn did NOT make me expec...
  • Lilyn G. | Sci-Fi & Scary
    Shortlisted for best book of the year on Sci-Fi & Scary.Full review to come.
  • Liz Orange
    This book is definitely on my list of 2018 favorites. I couldn’t put it down!Dr. Elma York is a fantastic character. Her witty humor and smart remarks make her narrating style incredibly enjoyable to read. While she is brilliant beyond belief, Elma is also a relatable character. Her shyness when being the center of attention struck a familiar chord with me. The fact that she pursues her goals despite her uneasiness in doing so is truly inspirin...
  • 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 ...
  • Jennifer Crane-rosset
    Where to start with this book? It was amazing. I pretty much devoured it in one sitting. Just could not put it down at all.Thank you, Mary Robinette Kowal, for helping me find a part of myself again that I thought I lost. Reading this book made me remember a girl I used to be, one who loved science and wanted to be an engineer or a doctor and be an astronaut. That never happened, because life, but I'd almost forgotten that person existed in the f...
  • 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.
  • Leah Rachel
    In The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal, a meteor hits Washington, DC, starting a potentially extinction-level global event. Suddenly, the space race becomes not just about technology, but a fight for the survival of humanity. As the program accelerates, pilot and calculator Dr. Elma York decides that it’s past time that women get to go to space too. This is the first in a duology, and I am in love five times over with this alternative...
  • Deva Fagan
    Two other books I've read recently and loved were Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson (SF novel about a catastrophic cosmic event that humanity can only survive by settling in space) and Hidden Figures, by Margot Shetterley (Nonfiction about the female African-American mathematicians who worked in the space program, also made into a fabulous movie). This novel reminded me of both in all the best ways, and I would recommend it to fans of either, given t...
  • Geonn Cannon
    A well-written historical scifi (?) that blends the best of The Martian's science with Hidden Figures' powerful women, and female pilots thrown into the mix. What's not to love?
  • Marzie
    This is my favorite Mary Robinette Kowal novel and the bar is set pretty darn high considering her prior work. In this rousing alternate history of the space program, we follow Elma Wexler York, the protagonist of her 2014 Hugo award-winning novelette, The Lady Astronaut of Mars, back in the early days of the post-Meteor Era space program. The opening chapters of the book deal with an event hinted at in one of her prior short stories, We Interrup...
  • Kaylie
    I could not put this book down.Kowal has created something majestic. Your heart will fist up and twist with every smallness Elma performs, each time she minimizes herself or participates as the nation's press tactically renders her (and all women pilots and physicists) a caricature of herself. Your blood while race while she whirls through calculations, because Elma is divining the future and plotting the present and changing the course of histor...
  • Billie
    Kowal is a great storyteller, but what brings me back again and again is the way in which she writes relationships. Elma and Nathaniel are the heart and soul of this novel and their relationship is so perfectly rendered on the page. It's not a perfect relationship—they argue and keep things from each other—but it's perfect in the ways in which they work through their problems and support each other. This is an alternate history novel about wo...
  • Kyra Boisseree
    I was expecting to like this book, but I was blown away by how much I actually ended up LOVING it. Absolutely loving it. It's flawless, it's beautiful, I love it to pieces. It's like a part of my soul I didn't even know I was looking for. I am so so thankful that the next book comes out so soon because I miss Elma so much already. I'm not even sure what to talk about first....This book definitely grabbed me with the fact that Elma is a pilot beca...
  • Bonnie McDaniel
    This book is fantastic, and anyone who loved the book and/or movie Hidden Figures should snap this right up. It's an alternate history of the space race with even higher stakes: after an asteroid impact that wipes out Washington DC and most of the East Coast, humanity comes together to get off the Earth and establish colonies in space and on the Moon. This is necessary because (shades of what happened to the dinosaurs) the impact sets in motion w...