The Calculating Stars

The Calculating Stars

Book - 2018
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On a cold spring night in 1952, a huge meteorite fell to earth and obliterated much of the east coast of the United States, including Washington D.C. The ensuing climate cataclysm will soon render the earth inhospitable for humanity, as the last such meteorite did for the dinosaurs. This looming threat calls for a radically accelerated effort to colonize space, and requires a much larger share of humanity to take part in the process. Elma York's experience as a WASP pilot and mathematician earns her a place in the International Aerospace Coalition's attempts to put man on the moon, as a calculator. 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. Elma's drive to become the first Lady Astronaut is so strong that even the most dearly held conventions of society may not stand a chance against her.
Publisher: New York, NY :, Tom Doherty Associates,, 2018.
ISBN: 9780765378385
Branch Call Number: SCIFI Kowal Mary 06/2018
Characteristics: 431 pages ;,21 cm


From Library Staff

Alternate history set in the 1950s, starring women astronauts doing their best to get us to space after a serious meteor hits earth. Yes please. You name the genre award, and this one's racked up either a nomination (Hugo, Goodreads Choice) or a win (Locus, Nebula). Kowal worked closely with NASA... Read More »

List - 2019 Hugo Award Finalists
JCLJedD May 11, 2019

Nominated for Best Novel

2018 JCL Notable Books List: Science Fiction

Mary Robinette Kowal's mashups of historical fiction with fantasy (or in this case, science fiction) are always intriguing, and now that its sequel is out, I really need to get to this one.

From the critics

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Hillsboro_ElenaG Apr 17, 2019

This book may be an alternate history, envisioning a world where a meteorite smashed into the Atlantic Ocean in the 1950s and wiped out the entire US Eastern seaboard, causing global climate shifts that could cause the earth to be uninhabitable by the year 2000 and catapulting the space race into overdrive...but it's also based on the true story of the women computers and would-be astronauts who were involved in the space race that actually happened, giving it the feel of really well done historical fiction. It's sort of like The Martian meets Hidden Figures, and I loved it.

JessicaGma Jan 03, 2019

I mean the year is still young, but this was a FANTASTIC book and will be my favourite for a while. It really caught the 1950s well, and the struggles of Elma to be all she can be despite her anxiety, and the zeitgeist of the time. Extremely interesting, so if you liked the Martian and Hidden Figures, pick this one up.

Nov 07, 2018

Very engrossing, detailed piece of historical fiction that kept me rooting for the main character, as well as others in the story. Loved her writing style and use of 50s vernacular, customs, and norms which allowed me to stay in that time period and not be interrupted by now.

Oct 22, 2018

Science fiction meets Hidden Figures in this engrossing alternate history of the race to colonize the Moon.

Sep 10, 2018

This was an awesome book. The protagonist is brave, resourceful and determined, but she also makes mistakes and has to admit them. The author does an astonishing job of showing the obstacles some people have to overcome to be considered for opportunities that are handed to others on a plate. It would be easy to scoff and point to the book being an alternate history, except it's all too clear that it's also, in many ways, the world we still live in.
This is a great book, and I would encourage anyone with an interest in science or math or space to try it.

Aug 30, 2018

Just finished science fiction book of the year. It has everything. Three dimensional characters that grew. New premise. Lots of twists & turns. Politics. Easy flow. See the big picture on other countries. Changes in alternative history from accelerated civil rights, less violent decolonization, food riots, cold war detente, & earlier international space station with launch site moved from Florida to Brazil.
Thoughtful afterword by author on why President Dewey instead of Truman to fit new premise to Hidden Figures.
Worthy companion book to Hidden Figures & Mercury 13.

Jul 30, 2018

This is an amazing ride. I can't say too much, because I don't want to give anything away, but the hero is a woman with spunk and a disability who is a computer (not the IBM kind) for the space program. This book has twists and turns and diversity and was very hard to put down at night to sleep. I highly recommend it if you like space and/or amazing female heroes.

Jun 02, 2018

Lady Astronaut series, #1


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