I’ve yet to read one of Mary Roach’s books and not find her entertaining. This book was more about the history of space exploration in general than Mars in particular, but it’s important to understand the history before we can jump into a mission that major. I learned a lot that I didn’t know, especially about the sort of "middle ages" of space exploration, between the first moon landing and the Challenger explosion. Sadly, I didn’t know a whole lot about that time period. For instance, I didn’t realize that the Soviets were launching space stations all the way back in the 70s, or that Mir was launched in 1986 — I’d always thought of space stations as more modern constructs. I also didn’t realize just how many animals were actually launched into space. Roach’s ever-present sense of humor is here, and that’s what makes her non-fiction so readable and easy to identify with. My only complaint is that it seemed like every time I read while eating lunch, I’d hit a chapter involving some sort of bodily waste. I guess this really isn’t meal-time reading!
Overall, I’m still quite the fan of Mary Roach, and I look forward to seeing what topic she attacks next.
"In retrospect, it was silly to think that the experience of traveling in space could be approximated by a repurposed walk-in freezer. To find out what would happen to a man alone in the cosmos, at some point you just had to lob one up there."