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Yaaaay for you and yaaaay for us, Sonya! This will be a kick! You can count on some questions from me :-)
I love Mary Roach! I can't wait for my copy of Packing for Mars to get here. I'd like to know more about her research methods. Does she just do generic searches for experiment write-ups on death/afterlife/sex/space travel and then look for the really weird titles? Does she work from personal recommendations from other scientists? Is there, somewhere, a journal for strange and amusing scientific research? Can I subscribe to it?
Maybe you could ask about what astronauts like to read in space. What kinds of books can they bring? (I imagine earlier missions had weight restrictions - now they could bring hundreds of books on a eReader). What about audio books? It's a long road-trip to Mars.
ninjapenguin I'd recommend The Annals of Improbable Research blog (http://improbable.com/)
>4 I think the natural choice would be some Kim Stanley Robinson, but perhaps if I were an astronaut, that would be too obvious.
I'll just toss some questions here as they come to mind, Sonya. Feel free to pick whichever one fits your conversation flow and time constraints!
- Mary, how did you come to choose the topic for Packing for Mars?
- Did the recent NASA budget cuts have any effect on your researching and writing this book?
- The chapters on the Japanese and Soviet space programs were a great touch to the book, and I wonder how hard it was for you to gain access to these agencies?
- I'm envisioning the next book in the series, "Packing for Jupiter" (or more likely, "Packing for Venus"). How about it? Can you be bribed into another book on the topic?!
- Your writing makes me laugh out loud. Are there any authors who have the same effect on you?
- I saw your recommended reading in "The Week" and bought the ones you suggested that I hadn't already read... so I'm ready for additional suggestions; have any?
PS: If you're looking for recommendations, I think 3 nontechnicals works you'd like are Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut's Journeys by Michael Collins, The Unbroken Chain by Guenter Wendt, and Failure is not an Option by Gene Kranz.
Edited for additional questions.
My only question for Mary Roach is, "Will you marry me?" She's smart and funny and witty and...uh-oh, I'm in fanboy mode.
Here are a few questions for Ms Roach:
Clearly this book focuses on aspects of space travel that have never been explored, and some of which are perhaps uncomfortable to contemplate.
How open were astronauts and technical support people to talking with you about the particular aspects you raise?
What if anything were the reactions of NASA to your requests, positive and negative? Were some nation's programs more forthcoming with information than others?
Please tell us how you went about investigating and writing this book. Did you do extensive research first, before putting pen to paper (so to speak), or did you write as you investigated? Did you ever find that gaining information from one source led to you to go back to a previous one for clarification and correction?
Next, given your great success as an author, please tell us about the mechanics of your writing. Do you work on a daily schedule, and /or set aside a certain number of hours per day? Do you have a particular location where you do your best writing, or can you do it anywhere? Do you escape from writing at nights and on weekends, or is the activity more consuming than that? And finally, does your writing entail many drafts, or do you find your first draft is already in fine form?
Finally, what's your next book likely to be? Is there any chance that you might delve into aspects of space flight and the space program further ?
7: Oh no you don't. Me and you are going to have to fight over her!
I'm also in fanboy/boyish-crush mode with this author, so it's hard to ask...umm, appropriate questions, but I'd definitely like to know if she has decided on the topic of her next book yet. (You can tell her there's a huge microbiology fan here on LT who'd love her even more if she chose that! =P)
Packing for Mars is a great book, funny and just great fun to read. I heard Mary speak at B&N in NYC and she is a delightful woman.
But as funny as the book is it's grounded in lots of hard facts. And those facts seem to indicate that given the current state of technology and the limitations of the human body it's rather a dicey proposition that anyone would survive the journey to Mars and back. Given all that Mary learned does she think we can be successful sending humans to Mar and get them home in in one piece? I'm a big fan of the manned space program but until Scotty can beam us up I'm starting to think robots can do it better.
Are there any surprising NASA (or any other of her sources) were especially tight-lipped about in a "stop looking for this or we'll have to hurt a cute puppy" kind of way?
And, unrelatedly, what are her favorite web sites?
I'm still waiting on my ER copy. :( If it should show up in the next couple days maybe I'll think of some questions.
In the context of possibilities of Ray Kurzweil's Singularity and similar developments, how do you think humans might physically change by the time we send community-sized numbers to Mars? Thanks. - Tom
I (as many) love Ms. Roach's narrative voice and I would like to ask her if she has ever thought of writing fiction.
Where did you came with the idea to the questions that you answer in the book?
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