Review: The Calculating Stars

The Calculating Stars (Lady Astronaut, #1) The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a really good book, and a lot of my writing friends have given it five well-deserved stars, but I found myself hesitating. I took several weeks after finishing it before writing this review, to figure out why I only wanted to give it four. It’s science fiction, hard science — Mary Robinette consulted with scientists and people from NASA, which when I first started reading SFF was my favourite subgenre. But I was uneasy, and finally figured out why.

This is a book about humanity getting into space in the mid-fifties after an asteroid strike makes it necessary, a truly hard SF premise, so it should have been right up my alley. But a lot of it is about a very capable female pilot and computer facing prejudice from the Powers That Be, to the point where we wonder if she’s ever going to make it into space (if we haven’t read the Hugo-award-winning story to which this is a prequel). I am rapidly approaching 65, and my teen years were all about Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein; this is not them. And that’s what makes it great, and why I finally realized why it deserved five stars from me: it taught me something about myself, and old attitudes I haven’t completely conquered yet, all while entertaining me with a great story.

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