2022 Book Review: The Calculating Stars

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

A Science Fiction, 2018 by Tor Books, 431 Pages 

What I Didn’t Like:

  • The emphasis on the love life of the central couple was a little unexpected (it’s literally mentioned on the first page) but you get used to it pretty quickly. I don’t think I ever got through a terrible pun about their marital acts without an eye roll though. 
  • Genre-crossing. I mention that because it’s worth getting a warning for if you’re not used to it. Historical fiction fans, get ready for some science to be thrown at you. A LOT of science. Some that has happened, some that is speculation. Science fiction fans, get ready to take some walks around in the 1950s and get lessons on life back then. 

What I Did Like:

  • Genre-crossing. The blend here of historical fiction and science fiction is incredibly well done. There’s a solid balance between what living in that time period would have been like for women, what the space program would have been like in its infancy, and the devastating effects of a meteorite like that hitting earth. 
  • Great opening. Who wouldn’t be hooked by the meteorite hitting earth in the first few pages and the intensity that follows that? This one starts on a very high level and keeps you moving from there. 
  • Showing the bias. This book set out to confront the biases women and minorities faced when the space program was in its early days in an interesting way by using alternate history. I loved that, although you’re working with science fiction and breaking rules, the author stuck to the history as much as she could. This felt like it absolutely could have happened like this, right down to the bikinis for astronaut training (yes, you read that right).

Who Should Read This One:

  • Historical fiction fans. This is an interesting concept. Don’t be scared away by the fact that it involves an event that absolutely didn’t happen in the 1950s. You’ll adore the way it explores sexism and racism in a way that feels historically accurate. 
  • Science fiction fans, specifically those who like big events causing chaos. From the meteorite strike to the start of the space program, this one keeps the science in the science fiction. 

My Rating: 5 stars. 

  • I love genre crossing books when they work and this one absolutely did! Totally recommended.

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