Steven's Notebook

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The Calculating Stars, by Mary Robinette Kowal – Book of the Month Dec ’18

This time ’round, my Book Of The Month is actually two books: Mary Robinette Kowal‘s The Calculating Stars and The Fated Sky.

Dr. York, the protagonist here, is a smart, hard-working survivor of an immense environmental disaster. Along with a team of brilliant and talented — and often petty, sexist, and condescending — scientists, pilots, and managers, she does her part to save humanity from its eventual demise.

These novels – historical fiction about humanity’s first manned mission to Mars – are super-well written and delightful to read prequels for the short story “The Lady Astronaut of Mars.”

They also give us a good look behind the curtains of classism, racism, and sexism. They are, as Rick Klau put it, “a master-class in privilege: what it looks like when you have it, how it affects those who don’t, and how it can make progress harder.”

The perhaps unexpected exploration is that of anxiety, and how it can be debilitating for even the most “successful” and “got it all together” people. In my opinion, the most important paragraph of the two-book set is one that many readers may never get to — the very end of the final afterword.

Pause here for a moment, and re-read that.

The Calculating Stars — get your copy today, and enjoy the journey; I trust you’ll want share it with your friends and immediately follow it up with The Fated Sky.

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