Zachary Rawlins'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
Jan 13, 2012

it was amazing

Mary Roach is the best thing going in science writing at the moment, bar none, and Packing for Mars finds her at the height of her powers. As usual, Roach is more interested in the people who study the science of living in space than the actual history of space exploration, or the science thereof, though she explores all three before the finale. But this proves to be one of the books many strengths, as the author emphasizes the human element to a subject that could seem almost mechanical or remote.

The writing is taut and funny, with hilarious footnotes and brief digressions, in the manner of this writer's best previous work. Rarely did I go more than a few pages without laughing out loud, either in astonishment, shock, or sheer hilarity. The research that this book must have involved is daunting, but quite thoroughly explored. Roach is at her best when she can apply her own sly, slightly naughty sensibilities to a subject that seems dry and uninteresting, or even gross, on the face of it, and Packing for Mars provides many of these moments.

At least as good as her debut novel, Stiff, Packing for Mars is excellent, funny, and a fast read by an excellent author. If I had a complaint, it was only that I wished it went on longer, not because it was too short, but rather because I was enjoying reading it.

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