Terry'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
Sep 06, 11

bookshelves: science, technology
Read in September, 2011

Mary Roach produces books with no obvious narrative and is more a show-and-tell of "look what I found". There is little overriding sense of "go to Mars" and only at the very end does she say "we should do this" with a heart-tugging earnestness that makes me want to reply "for you, sure". The path from beginning to end is fun and extensive footnotes of gaffes and oddities show a very human side to humanity's adventures into the void.

Some Notes:
*Roach leans on previous topics she's covered liked sex and cadavers. I feel like she's cheating in these parts.

*Roach is fond of showing the work she's done to get a fact. She'll tell you how many phone calls she's placed, how many emails went back and forth, or how many days she spent in some archive. I'm not sure if I care about this or not.

*Footnotes are haphazard. I'm not sure why some anecdotes appear as footnotes and why others appear in the body text.

*Some sources are used extensively. The Gemini missions are quoted extensively but more recent sources like Skylab, the ISS, and the Mir programs seem almost glossed over.

*There is little perspective. Roach lets interviewees explain say the difference between NASA Ames and NASA JFK Space Center which adds flavor but makes it hard for the reader to orient oneself.

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