The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal (Lady Astronaut #3)

Reviewed by Lotte:

This book takes place at the same time as the second book in this series, written from the perspective of Astronaut Nicole Wargin, whilst Elma is off on her Mars mission. I was worried I’d miss Elma, our Lady Astronaut, but I absolutely loved Nicole and loved this approach.

Nicole was such a great character to add to this saga. She was relatable, fallible and just all round really interesting and well-developed. I loved that she didn’t have to be perfect, that she was real and that it didn’t limit her either. She was still strong, independent, capable and reliable. That for me is true strength and the type of thing I want to read! It added so much depth to the plot too.

As for the story itself, all I can say is wow! I keep thinking I can’t enjoy this universe anymore and then Kowal just goes ahead and takes it to the next level. It was a genius idea to shift the focus and write this as a parallel to the previous story. It helped develop the world more, building on the details we already had, making the universe more substantial, and ultimately more intriguing and enjoyable, without it being laborious.

Add in all the mystery, sabotage, drama and ultimately the fight for survival, along with all the sci-fi elements and the complexities of space, and you find yourself with an epic read with so many facets. I was engaged every single moment and often found myself mulling over the pieces of the puzzle between reading sessions!

I’d just like to say how much I appreciated Kowal’s sensitivity in writing the parts that related to eating disorders and recovery. Including it was inspiring without ever being triggering or encouraging. This should be the gold standard for writing!

Thank you Mary Robinette Kowal, Tor and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this ARC.

Author: Mary Robinette Kowal
Publisher: Rebellion, Solaris
Release Date: 26 November 2020

The Fated Sky (Lady Astronaut #2) by Mary Robinette Kowal

Reviewed by Lotte:

In this sequel to The Calculating Stars earth is still failing and the time until it becomes inhabitable is advancing quickly so the colonisation of Mars becomes the main focus. Once again, Elma discovers that being a female pilot puts her at a disadvantage for the Mars expedition. So she embarks on a fight for her right to be on it and to prove herself through the training program and the expedition itself.

This book was just as good as its predecessor if not better. It was fun, heartbreaking, clever and incredibly moving at times. It showed the very real trials of being a woman in a man’s world, with the added complications of the inherent racism of that time. I felt like the characters and storyline were easy to buy into and relatable because Kowal wove in appropriate references to that era that had me feeling frustrated and rooting for righteousness to prevail. There was also the complications of a long-distance relationship, involving sacrifices made for Elma’s career again showing the intricacies of that time and the dynamics of the relationship. I felt the heartache and anger when Elma told Nathaniel about ‘the bag’. Kowal’s words were so strong and poignant in places, whilst remaining fun and exciting overall.

As in the first book, the science fiction element of this book was easy to follow, interesting and enough to make the story work without being too heavy and intricate. There was also a lot more suspension in this book so I found myself willing the science to work somehow too! This was a great instalment in this Lady Astronaut series.

Author: Mary Robinette Kowal
Publisher: Solaris
Release date: 28 July 2019

The Calculating Stars (Lady Astronaut #1) by Mary Robinette Kowal

Reviewed by Lotte:

This is a fun, intelligent book involving a national crisis which shatters lives and forces earth into speeding up its mission to colonise other planets, firstly the moon and then Mars. This book has an apocalyptic feel, set in the 1950’s.

Kowal pitches this book in a time when sexism and racism are rife, with women and those of differing ethnicity from the 1950s privileged white, had to fight to be heard and get a seat at the table. Ironically, it is actually those women that make the colonisation possible with the “Lady Astronaut” being an integral part of the whole operation. In fact, it is her calculating skills that assist most with the operation. She is a strong, independent and intelligent woman who learns of her own privilege and attempts to strive for what is right. However, along the way she realises that this isn’t always possible and that fighting for what she deserves isn’t always straight forward.

The science fiction element of this book was easy to digest, giving the reader enough to understand what was happening and to make the story work without being overloading. This was a good balance for me as I can become bored with protracted explanations of made up technology and scientific logic. This certainly isn’t a hardcore Sci-Fi novel but that worked for me.

All this is based in a fast paced, well thought out novel that captured my attention instantly. The way in which Kowal writes instantly draws you in to both the characters and storyline. I definitely want to read the sequel to this book!

Author: Mary Robinette Kowal
Publisher: Solaris
Release date: 10 April 2019