Review: The Calculating Stars

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An utterly charming retrofuturism novel that is as much about going to space and women’s struggles in a patriarchal culture as it is about social anxiety.

In an alternate US in the 1950s, the eastern seaboard is struck by a meteor, triggering both an immediate disaster and starting a clock on climate change that will make Earth inhospitable within a generation. To survive, humans must make the leap into space, creating a much more literal space race. Not only do we have to do it with 1950s technology, but we also have to overcome 1950s ideas on race and gender.

This is an alternative view of Hidden Figures, and it’s interesting and frustrating to cheer “lady astronaut” Elma on as she moves from a pilot and a “computer” to an astronaut.

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