Sue's Reviews > Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void

Packing for Mars by Mary Roach
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's review
Feb 05, 11

bookshelves: library, nonfiction, favorites
Read from January 31 to February 05, 2011

This book is hilarious. Is Mary Roach a science writer or a humor writer? All I know is that my feelings about the space program range from indifference to bitterness (I'm a biologist and I think our interests would be better served exploring the bottom of the ocean or rainforests than other planets), but this book sparked some real interest. She examines the history of the space program, from the canine and primate astronauts and the Russians to the Americans. But the focus is on the dark little corners and behind-the-scenes business that goes on-- weird psychological tests on astronauts, crash tests on cadavers, what happens to your organs in 0G-30G, sex in space, hygiene (glad I wasn't on Gemini VII), and (my favorite!) how to poop in space. Mary Roach is a person who will find humor in the most mundane and intricate details of science, which makes her a great writer. NASA puts a lot of effort into crafting its image, and it was really interesting to read about the researchers and astronauts who really do the work. They are smart and funny and human, and Mary Roach has the wit to bring it all together.

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