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Ratings and Book Reviews (2 55 star ratings
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4.5 out of 5
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    A stellar sequel

    The Calculating Stars began with the impact of the meteorite. The Fated Sky kicks things into gear with a hostage-taking. Dr. Elma York, Lady Astronaut and calculator is returning from the moon, a journey that has become routine, when a problem during re-entry sends them off course and into a crash landing. They have to wait for the retrieval crew to find them, but a group of PoC Earth Firsters discover them before the IAC. Elma manages to diffuse the situation, but the IAC cannot ignore the opportunity to capitalize on the resulting media coverage and places Elma on the first Mars mission, displacing fellow calculator, Helen, who has been training with the rest of the crew for months already. The rest of the crew resent the substitution and Elma must face the impact her privilege has on the mission. Though she tries to make amends, becoming an ally is not so simple. Complicating matters, Elma and her husband Nathaniel have to make a decision about their future. If Elma goes to Mars, a round trip that will take years, the chances that they’ll be able to have children upon her return will be greatly reduced. But Mars is Elma’s dream. Then there’s the Mission’s commander, Stetson Parker, with whom Elma has a complicated history. His misogyny is legendary as is his hatred of Elma. They’ll be in close quarters for the duration of the mission. And what about Elma’s anxiety? Can she manage it successfully on the journey? Once they’re underway, though, and beyond the point of return, it becomes apparent that someone is sabotaging the mission. Kowal has written a wonderful sequel to The Calculating Stars. Her characters continue to be complex and flawed. Even Stetson Parker is not all that he seems. He’s still a horrible person, but he gains dimension. Nathaniel continues to be Elma’s anchor and touchstone and their relationship is an inspiration. Elma struggles with her limitations and failings, but ultimately, she and her crewmates come together to work the problem and find a solution. Despite the cover, (spoiler warning) Elma doesn’t get to set foot on Mars, but the denouement is no less satisfying for the disappointment.
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    Good but it could've been so much better

    It's a fabulous concept and story. Elma as a character is both sympathetic and heroic and the author really does a great job of tethering things so that it feels real when they're in the ship. The problem for me, i think, is that's where it stops. This is a very AMERICAN story. The heroic characters are Americans, indeed the main 'antagonist' is South African and none of his compatriots feel anything other than 2 dimensional. Most of the characters given any depth are American. For a mission that's supposedly about saving the whole human race, the rest of the world feels very much removed. Even the first ships sent to Mars are given names tied to American history. Even countries with actual longstanding ties to the space program are forgotten. Like i said, this is a great story and an easy read, but for those of us who aren't American, it feels like we're being left behind in favour of the United States of Mars.
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