Waiting on Wednesday: The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

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Waiting on Wednesday is a regular feature that spotlights those upcoming, can't-wait-for-them books that are definitely going on my reading list... check out previous Waiting on Wednesday picks here ➤

I absolutely loved Hidden Figures, last year's Oscar-nominated biopic about the black female mathematicians who worked at NASA during the Space Race in the early '60s, and I'm here for all the stories of women working in that field, whether they're of the factual or science fictional variety. So when I came across The Calculating Stars: A Lady Astronaut Novel, of course it went right on the can't wait to read list!

Mary Robinette Kowal’s book began life as a novelette: The Lady Astronaut of Mars, about the first female astronaut's later years on a Mars colony. But there's so much more to this unexpectedly poignant tale than simply life on another planet, namely the desire for purpose and passion complicated by the heartache of aging and loss.

The Calculating Stars seems to be a prequel to the novelette, telling of how this first lady astronaut came to be, long before she ever stepped foot on Mars. Give the short story a read and, if you love Elma’s tale and voice like I did, you'll want to add the book to your must read list too...

The Calculating Stars: A Lady Astronaut Novel

Mary Robinette Kowal

Science Fiction | Space | Alt-Historical

RELEASE DATE: July 3, 2018

PAPERBACK: 432 pages


On a cold spring night in 1952, a meteorite falls to earth and destroys much of the eastern seaboard of the United States, including Washington D.C. The Meteor, as it is popularly known, 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, and allows a much larger share of humanity to take part in the process.

One of these new entrants in the space race is Elma York, whose experience as a WASP pilot and mathematician earns her a place in the International Aerospace Coalition’s attempts to put man on the moon. 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—aside from some pesky barriers like thousands of years of history and a host of expectations about the proper place of the fairer sex. And yet, Elma’s drive to become the first Lady Astronaut is so strong that even the most dearly held conventions may not stand a chance against her.