Jason'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
Dec 17, 12

bookshelves: read-2012
Read in January, 2012

The negative thoughts I have about this book stem from its shallowness. You aren't going to learn a great deal, unless you are relatively unaware of space travel or its history, and what you do learn is going to be pretty thin. Compared to a popular writer such as Bill Bryson, Roach is less able to give large swaths of information that is moderately complete and gives one a moderately firm grasp on things.

But this doesn't matter. This is a fun, well-researched, very funny book. It looks at spaceflight not to give information (although, again, if you're not that familiar with the topic, you will learn), but rather to evaluate that information in terms of humanity. What does spaceflight entail when supporting a human being is involved, from eating and pooping to exercise, boredom, sex and drinking, among other things. These are difficult questions, and Roach is the person to ask them, injecting the consideration with optimism and humor. Emphasis on the latter. This is a funny, funny book. Roach cherry picks the comments for comedic effect and her wry observations take it up a notch. So yeah, this isn't the book to read before writing your next sci-fi story. It is the book to read to make you care about space in the first place.
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