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The Calculating Stars

by Mary Robinette Kowal

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Lady Astronaut (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,0221277,915 (3.9)214
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.… (more)
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» See also 214 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 127 (next | show all)
Kowal won a Hugo for the novelette that was the seed of this book. I worry that might prevent her getting nominated for a Hugo for this wonderful, entertaining, and provocatively enlightening novel. I cannot wait for the next in this series. I am also relatively sure I will be re-reading/re-listening to this book, raising it to a 5-star rating.
[Audiobook note: Kowal, herself, reads the audiobook. She is an accomplished audiobook narrator of other authors' works. So I knew she was going to do a good job with her own material. I was not disappointed.] ( )
  Treebeard_404 | Jan 23, 2024 |
The Calculating Stars (the first in the Lady Astronaut series) is an outstanding work of alternative history and deserves all the praise it has received. It won the 2019 Nebula Award for Best Novel , the 2019 Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel, the 2019 Hugo Award for Best Novel, and the 2019 Sidewise Award for Alternate History. So, this book is kinda a big deal.

The Calculating Stars is an alternate history about the space race, in which a catastrophe (a meteorite crashing into the earth propelling rapid global warming) necessitates an earlier reach for the stars in the 1950s. We follow Elma York, WASP pilot and mathematician as she earns her place as part of the International Aerospace Coalition's team. But Elma isn't satisfied with just being a computer, she's a damn good pilot, and believes that herself and other women in the program are just as qualified to go to the moon as the men are. So Elma attempts to confront various gender barriers in order to become the first Lady Astronaut while a looming apocalypse ensues.

Meticulously researched, The Calculating Stars feels very authentic. The Apollo-era technology is well-researched and well-presented and always feels organic—more organic often than the characters. But Elma is the real start of the story here and by the end of the novel, you'll come to appreciate the time you've spend with her. Elma's personal life provides a fascinating human center to the story.

If you love the history of the space race, alternative history, or just a great story of a women breaking gender barriers to reach the stars, pick up this book ( )
  ryantlaferney87 | Dec 8, 2023 |
This is far and away the best book I have read this year. I found myself reading at 1 am knowing I needed to go to sleep to get ready for work. Sure that I wouldn't. There are so many things to love about this book. Alternate history well done....check.....great characters......check........great love story.....check.......Space flight.......big giant check.

Do yourself a favor and read this book right now. ( )
  cdaley | Nov 2, 2023 |
I wasn't watching how many hours were left on the audiobook, so I wasn't prepared for so abrupt an ending. I probably won't continue the series... I didn't come back to the book often enough while reading the first to warrant reading the second.
  Tom_Wright | Oct 11, 2023 |
Everything about this book was awesome. Kowal tackles more issues in less than 400 pages than I ever dare hope to touch upon in an entire series. Love the vivid attention to detain in terms of how tragedy seeps into so many tiny aspects of life, and changes the way we think of everything, almost without us knowing. This book does a great job of showing momentum and diving into the deep end.

I would definitely recommend giving it a read! ( )
  BreePye | Oct 6, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 127 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mary Robinette Kowalprimary authorall editionscalculated
Kowal, Mary RobinetteNarratormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Manchess, GregoryCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stafford-Hill, JamieCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vogt, Judith C.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Dedication
For my niece, Emily Harrison, who is in the Mars Generation
First words
Do you remember where you were when the Meteor hit?
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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.

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Book description
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.
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Mary Robinette Kowal is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

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Mary Robinette Kowal chatted with LibraryThing members from Sep 13, 2010 to Sep 26, 2010. Read the chat.

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Average: (3.9)
0.5 1
1 13
1.5 1
2 37
2.5 11
3 85
3.5 43
4 212
4.5 35
5 167

 

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