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The Calculating Stars (Lady Astronaut Universe, #1)
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Adult Fiction Buddy Reads > The Calculating Stars BR Starting Dec 14 2018

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message 1: by LB (new) - rated it 2 stars

LB (raceforthepuck) | 160 comments Mod
Join us for a buddy read of The Calculating Stars and the short story that inspired the novel, The Lady Astronaut of Mars, starting Friday, December 14th.

On a cold spring night in 1952, a huge meteorite fell to earth and obliterated much of the east coast of the United States, including Washington D.C. The ensuing climate cataclysm will soon render the earth inhospitable for humanity, as the last such meteorite did for the dinosaurs. This looming threat calls for a radically accelerated effort to colonize space, and requires a much larger share of humanity to take part in the process.

Elma York’s experience as a WASP pilot and mathematician earns her a place in the International Aerospace Coalition’s attempts to put man on the moon, as a calculator. But with so many skilled and experienced women pilots and scientists involved with the program, it doesn’t take long before Elma begins to wonder why they can’t go into space, too.

Elma’s drive to become the first Lady Astronaut is so strong that even the most dearly held conventions of society may not stand a chance against her.

Emily (emilythebooknerd) | 127 comments The Lady Astronaut of Mars- Finished

Wow. I thought that was excellent. I’m not usually a fan of short stories (although I discovered when investigating the author that it is actually a “novelette” according to Wikipedia- longer than a short story, shorter than a novella), but I thought that was a very effective and affecting use of the medium. I was almost in tears at the ending, and I can count on one hand the number of books that have made me cry.
Usually with short stories I am at best left needing a lot more elements and development, at worst confounded by what the point or theme even was supposed to be. Novellas are better and can work to add extra character POVs or backstory to an already developed series of books, where the readers already understand the world. But this story can stand completely on its own, gave you enough information to understand the world and the basics of the characters’ backstories, had emotional and character depth AND examines several major themes: aging, losing and letting go of a loved one, children vs. career, that which drives and inspires us. Plus touching on several more, like being in the public eye, role of women, sacrifice. There’s definitely a ton here for her to expand on in The Calculating Stars and its sequels (one of which is actually already out, two more are planned). Plus this setting is a great opportunity to combine the history and science of the actual space program with a lot of what-ifs and imagination.

I do have one quibble- I don’t understand how the punch cards worked as far as early computer programming goes and would have appreciated a little explanation since they were mentioned so often. But that might be too complicated to explain concisely. Hopefully there will be more information in the book.

I also loved her taking and twisting Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz and that story with her ending up on Mars instead (I’m a sucker for retellings), although I’m not quite sure I understood everything the author was trying to say by doing that.

This quote stood out to me, regarding the reasons for the mission to LS-579:
“Now it has been long enough that people are starting to forget that the danger is still there. That the need to explore is necessary.” (42%)
Do you think the space program and exploring beyond our planet are necessary? I guess I’m not sure I do. Not when it takes a huge amount of money, resources, and brainpower that could be spent solving problems we have here on Earth, like global warming, saving the environment, oppression, poverty, etc.
Throughout human history, exploration has been necessary as our population expanded, we searched for more habitable locations, and we fled from natural disasters. Having pretty much reached the population limit for our planet, I feel it’s time for us to stop growing in numbers, and we are never going to find a more hospitable environment than Earth for us to live. Yes, the last could still occur: we could destroy our own planet or there could be a planet-wide disaster, as in this story and book. But I think our time, effort, and resources would be better served in trying to avoid that outcome.
In addition, in the story, it appears that humans have already colonized the moon, Mars, and Venus. Shouldn’t that be enough insurance for our survival without adding another planet lightyears away? But maybe it’s in human nature to always seek beyond, push limits, explore.

One last point. I find it interesting that what Elma misses so much about Earth is the night sky with stars. While that would be a bummer to lose, there are a number of things I’m pretty sure would be absent from Mars that I’d miss much much more: the blue sky, an abundance of green plants, bodies of water and the ocean. Although this story will make me take more notice of the stars for awhile, I think!

Emily (emilythebooknerd) | 127 comments I’m hoping I didn’t lead us wrong by having us read the short story first. Since it does reveal how things turn out down the line. But hopefully the author will have taken into account that a lot of the book’s readers will have read the story already and work in enough new information to still give the book some suspense, etc.

message 4: by LB (new) - rated it 2 stars

LB (raceforthepuck) | 160 comments Mod
The Lady Astronaut of Mars- Finished

What a wonderful, heartbreaking story. I'm honestly not sure what decision I would have made in Elma's shoes. Would I have stayed or would I have gone? My gut tells me I would have stayed, and yet... to get to live among the stars after being confined under a dome for so many years. To make an impact with my final existence.

I think I would have stayed though. As much as I would have loved the adventure, I've read too much about the psychology effects of space travel on humans. Three years cramped in a tiny pod by myself? I would be worse than Tom Hanks talking to Wilson. By the time I got to the potential planet, I'm not sure I would even have known I arrived, much less been able to perform the necessary duties. I'm a little surprised they didn't talk about that.

I want to say the punch cards were binary coded, and the machines read off the instructions line by line through what was still there versus what had been punched out. But I could be very wrong. I know they explained it a little in The Imitation Game, but it's been a while and my computer science knowledge is limited. I understand why she didn't include it, though it would have been good knowledge. Short form takes such a mastery of what details are important to the themes versus which are world building. With so little word count available, every sentence counts. So I don't fault her for the overlook.

I do believe the space program is a fundamental necessity. Nothing pushes technology like war and space, and I would much rather have progress in the name of space than progress in the name of war. So many common inventions came from NASA trying to work out problems for space programs - microwaves, aluminum foil, highway grooving, etc. Space gives us reason to explore new technology and push the limits of human invention. It's crazy to think about how old the technology on the space shuttles was when they retired them. And how old the technology on the ISS is. Imagine what we could achieve now. What SpaceX and other companies have planned for the future. How much we can learn about ourselves but looking outward. I think it's also important to remind ourselves how large the universe is and how little we know about it. To humble ourselves with this knowledge to remember we are small, and we are all on this one little planet together. I think space helps bring humanity together. I'm not saying we should terraform Mars (I don't think we should) but I think we should continue to explore. Our space budget is less than 0.05% of our annual budget, while defense spending is 15%, so it's a tiny fraction of expense in the grand scheme of things. And it's a task we can take on collectively to share the expense, as we currently do with ESA and other government agencies around the world.

But I agree that we shouldn't focus on space as a means to become a multiplanet species and should focus more on controlling on impacts on our planet. No point messing up more than one natural resource. But I think space exploration and research can help develop the technologies to help with food shortages (they are growing vegetables in space now!) and other global issues. Maybe even climate change.

I think we are expansionists by nature. I really like how The Expanse used that as a theme in that series. Though talking about things I wish she'd explained better, terrasect? How does that work? How does one set one up to punch a hole through the space-time continuum?

As someone who still hasn't truly seen the night sky with the bands of the Milky Way, I have to reserve judgement. I will say I've spent the last three years chasing the dream, once I realized the photos I've seen of them aren't just lapsed time exposure shots and are what some people actually see with their naked eye. It's become an obsession of mine living in the light pollution of a metropolitan, but I don't think I've overhiped it. I'm still so excited for when that day comes. Though I agree I think I would miss fresh air and gravity more lol. I don't think the human body will adjust to Mars's gravity quickly.

Emily (emilythebooknerd) | 127 comments It’s hard for me to imagine what I would have done in Elma’s shoes because the thought of being trapped in a tiny capsule, ALONE, hurtling through space for YEARS… Well, despite being able to see the stars, despite the sense of adventure and discovery, despite making a large contribution to mankind, that just really doesn’t appeal to me. (As you say- crazy town!) Plus, she was only 63, and she and those planning the mission were basically condemning her to death…
I guess I’m a little too risk adverse and not motivated as much by a need for adventure. So I would have stayed. But Elma was obviously extremely driven, and driven by some instincts and desires outside of the norm. The kind that are present and necessary in trailblazers.

The psychology aspect was probably too much to work into an already packed short story, but hopefully it will be talked about some in this book and its sequels as Elma and others explore and travel to Mars. Because it sounds really interesting. Not to mention the psychological effects of simply surviving such an extreme disaster.

No, you’re right about not putting in more info about the punchcards. I would be terrible at writing short stories- I would want to include way too much extra info.

You make an excellent argument. Although I feel like for a lot of the US space program’s history, it was a facet of the Cold War, which made it more of a priority than it would have been in its own right. I just wish our species could be a little less short-sighted and be as motivated to advance technology by, oh, the fact that we are destroying the planet, as by war and the glittery, sexy promise of space.
But the reasons you discuss are good ones: technological advancement, science for science’s sake, discovering more about the foundations of the universe and our place in it.
I don’t disagree with continuing scientific exploration, especially if it is done jointly between countries, building bridges and bringing people together, as you said. But I think it’s a mistake to imagine we can or should or would even want to colonize other planets- makes it more ok to treat the one we have as disposable. Even if that expansionist urge is somewhat built into us.

My question is, what would being cut off from Earth, from our normal environment, from nature (sky, trees, water, earth, animals) do to us? Would it be even the least bit enjoyable to live on another planet? Surrounded completely by manmade materials? I think there would be some major psychological effects from that. And the different gravity, as you mention.

Agreed- the whole idea of the tesseract was trippy (I was trying to envision a four-dimensional cube, which isn’t actually possible to do, but didn’t stop me from trying to wrap my head around the idea). And that is definitely where the sci-FI part comes in, I think, though the idea definitely needs further development.

I’ve never seen the Milky Way quite as amazing as in a lot of those photos or away from all light pollution, but up in the mountains, the stars can be pretty spectacular. It’s definitely something everyone should see. Hope there are some pretty stars in Tennessee for you this week!

The Calculating Stars- up to Chapter 4 (7%)

Well, this has been a depressing start so far, although interesting. Which I should have expected, but I didn’t quite think through what the beginning of the story would be like before going in.

I think it’s been a pretty good look at what enduring such an event would be like, with plenty of hopefully-legitimate science. Although I still can’t really imagine it- a disaster on that scale, a whole portion of the US being wiped off the map. Especially when your home and so many people you know were wiped off with it. On the one hand, I feel the book could have made the reader FEEL a little more and understand what Elma was feeling, on the other hand, she approaches life in a largely scientific and mathematical manner, so maybe the amount of emotion in the book is just right.

I like that Elma and Nathaniel are already together and married as the book starts. It is a nice change from all the books where the main character meeting and falling in love with her guy is such a central part. This will probably explore a different angle- how to keep a relationship healthy when the whole world changes around you.

The short story didn’t mention that Elma and Nathaniel are Jewish- I wonder how that is going to come into play. Nice to see diversity of whatever kind in main characters- some of my best friends are Jewish, but I still feel like I don’t know as much about the religion as I should.

What do you think of the little news snippets at the beginning of the chapters? I can’t quite decide if it’s a good way of bringing in the wider global impact of the meteorite hit without disrupting the story, or if they’re distracting without adding much.

This author also narrates audiobooks- I knew about her that way long before I knew she was an author herself. Somehow I didn’t consider that she would narrate her own audiobook (duh!). I’m struggling a little bit listening to it because I’m so used to her voice being that of this other character from a totally different series- I’ve listened to 10 books narrated by her as that character (the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire- first book Rosemary and Rue). So I’m finding I am enjoying it more reading than listening. (Though I don’t think this is due to any fault on her part as a narrator- I’ve liked her work on the other series and think she’s a decently skilled voice actress.)

I’m very curious why the author chose to change history and have Thomas Dewey as President at the beginning of this book instead of Truman, who was the actual President at the time. (Dewey is who ran against Truman in 1948, and according to Wikipedia, Truman winning that election was “one of the greatest upsets in presidential election history.”) If the catastrophe had actually been an atomic bomb attack by Russia, it would make sense: change who is President, change the President’s actions, change foreign affairs, change history. But as the meteorite was not caused by any human action, I’m not sure why that historical change was necessary. Is the author going to have Truman survive the meteorite hit and rise to become the leader the nation needs in this crisis?

message 6: by LB (new) - rated it 2 stars

LB (raceforthepuck) | 160 comments Mod
I think the psychological aspect is a lot why she wants to go back into space to be among the stars, so I hope you're right and Kowal dives into the theme in the novel. I watch movies like The Hurt Locker and listen to accounts of vets and astronauts, and it's hard to fathom such an extraordinary job. How does one live such a life on the day-by-day regular and then go back to joining regular society? Even if that society happens to be on a Mars settlement? I'm not sure they can, at least not completely.

I have to give mad props to writers who work in short form literature. I don't know how they do it. I did some creative nonfiction short and traditional length essays (maximum of eight pages) last semester, but nothing in the fields of sci-fi or fantasy. To build an entire world and convey it (well) within the confines of a few pages simply blows my mind. (Side note, but I saw Leigh Bardugo has a short story in the Tor anthology I bought that has The Lady Astronaut of Mars in it. Definitely looking forward to reading that one next.)

Oh, the space program growth was 100% due to the Cold War. Technology again as the byproduct of war. Neil deGrasse Tyson said the only reason we made progress as fast as we did was because the president said we will do it and we will do it by ______. By setting an unrealistic goal, we made it a realistic project because it was a race against the Russians (which I would still argue that we lost for the most part.)

We talked a lot about the short-sightedness of our species at dinner with my aunt the other night because she's on the "green" train as much as we are. The sad thing is, we couldn't come up with a realistic plan except to make corporations responsible for their footprint. Which will not happen without a massive political shift thanks to lobbyists. So I agree with you 100%. We have to drop the mindset that the earth is disposable or replaceable and realize that it isn't the earth that's in trouble. The earth with survive, even if it's changed. It's us that's in danger. But again, it's hard to make people plan for the long-term unless there's a way for the long-term to benefit them in the short-term economically.

I think it would be terrifying to live on another body in space, because it would be a death trap. Everything about space wants to kill you (the cold, the lack of air, etc. etc.) I don't think I'd ever feel safe. Though as I write that, I remember that I would jump at the chance to go into space just to see the universe from outside the atmosphere. Even so though, sure as heck wouldn't want to live out there. I'll leave that to Elon Musk, thank you very much!

The terrasect reminds me of what they tried to do in Interstellar. Didn't understand it then, don't understand it now. I understand the philosophy of it (taking a piece of paper, folding it in half, and punching a hole through both layers to connect them) but still don't see how that would work. I'm more a fan of the idea of warping time-space around your vehicle so that your vehicle never actually moves, but time-space moves around it. Still not sure how that would work, but my brain can at least imagine it a little better.

Also up to Chapter 4 (pg 40)

I like the way you pointed out that Kowal could have gone a more emotional route in the opening chapters to really tug at the reader's heartstrings at the devastation, but that she wrote it through Elma's narrative of a logical approach to try to explain the illogical happening. That being said, I think there was a missed opportunity in the car scene, where Elma does allow her emotions to break through. That little slice could have gone for some more emotional impact.

I also am refreshed by a marriage already present, so having a story where the meet-fall in love-disaster-come back together-happily ever after isn't central to the plot. I'm already more invested in Elma and Nathaniel's relationship that I would have been otherwise. I'm interested in the dynamic of how they work together, Elma often (it seems like so far) in his shadow, though he doesn't see her that way. I think it's a great way to also explore how to keep a relationship going between two career focused individuals, which I can definitely relate to as a DINK household.

I think the news snippets are distracting at this point, but I have a feeling that are going to be critical to plot as the story progresses. So we'll see how well Kowal incorporates them as a literary device.

I'm intrigued by the alternate universe she is setting up for this world. Different president, as you said, but more interesting to me is how the *$&% they colonize Mars so fast? As of today, most scientists don't believe we have the technology still to colonize Mars yet - or even really to get people out there. So how are we going to do that in the 50s? Like we talked about, progress is usually propelled by outside events - our space program by the Cold War, this one by a natural disaster - but I want to see how she unfolds that into the narrative.

I also like how she kept the space program as NACA instead of changing it to NASA (I noted that in the short story).

So far, my initial opinion is I like it. Elma and her husband are both interesting and relatable, and the story is moving and developing quickly. Has some real potential based on how much I liked the short story too.

message 7: by LB (last edited Dec 20, 2018 07:01AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

LB (raceforthepuck) | 160 comments Mod
Up to Chapter 7 (pg 69)

I feel a little silly, but I didn't connect the importance of religion when you mentioned it in your previous post. History has never been my strongest suit, and I somehow failed to connect Elma and Nathaniel's religion to the Holocaust and the war. Definitely an interesting choice by Kowal. Interested to see how the theme plays out throughout the novel. I can't imagine what it was like to be Jewish in this era in history.

The novel started with a bang, but has simmered quickly for me. These past few chapters have dragged a bit. I think it's important to look at the emotional impact of the event on the characters, but at the same time I feel like this type of catastrophe would warrant a lot more haste. So much possible tension and I think it's squandered early on by having the narrative told from Elma's POV when she's the outsider looking in. Though the ending of this chapters allows potential for the pace to pick up rapidly again, so I'm excited to keep reading.

Oh, if you were interested, I found some information on how the punch cards worked:
It went over my head a little because I still can't tell which "language" you programmed them in. Seems like it was a blend maybe? But kind of interesting. I didn't know what they actually looked like up close.

I was looking up background information on Mary Robinette Kowal because I was interested if she was Jewish like Elma. Haven't found that yet, but saw that she is a puppeteer. Which is just so cool! And I realized I have heard of her before! I hadn't read her work, but I've heard her several times on the podcast Writing Excuses, which I listen to because of Dan Wells and Brandon Sanderson.

Emily (emilythebooknerd) | 127 comments That’s an excellent point, about Elma likely finding it difficult to fit back into normal society after such an unusual job. The psychology of those who have been asked to push themselves to do the extraordinary, especially day after day... that has to be a lot of stress on the brain to adjust to those conditions, and I agree that turning it off fully might not be possible.

Oh, goodness- no space for me, thank you very much! Even for a visit! That would be terrifying. You would be so totally relying on your equipment- that would require trusting many many unknown people. Which I realize we do all the time when we fly or drive or do a ton of other things, but the risk benefit analysis of going to space... I’ll content myself with seeing some of the billions of amazing things on the planet and with pictures taken by telescopes and space probes and such.

So I just realized that not only does A Wrinkle in Time use the same concept of being able to bend spacetime to travel through it (as do a number of other books/movies/etc. I’ve come across), it actually explains it as also having to do with a tesseract. According to Wikipedia, a Wrinkle in Time was the origin of at least this term in relation to spacetime travel, so this author must be drawing from that. I read A Wrinkle in Time about age ten, if I remember right, so this idea of bending spacetime seems natural to me, although now that I’m thinking about it more objectively, I can see that it is pretty strange.

I agree that the author could definitely have kept Elma’s objectivity for most of the opening chapters, while still using a few of the most shocking and frightening events to hit harder emotionally.

Agreed- it should hopefully be interesting to watch Elma come into her own during this time period as the story progresses and how that alters her and Nathaniel’s relationship.

Yeah- I haven’t been super impressed by how she’s used the news snippets, although I now see that there has been some hints and foreshadowing going on. But they will probably get more crucial to the story.

I know pretty little about the history of the space program- I didn’t realize it was originally NACA.

I don’t think I’ve ever really read anything about Jewish characters this soon after WWII- it would have been very tough. Survivor’s guilt and so much loss of life and culture and history. You’d think it would have introduced average Americans to Jews’ society and made them sympathetic, but it was probably one of those instances where Christian Americans were sympathetic to the Jews’ plight OVER THERE, but still didn’t feel comfortable with them OVER HERE- not that different from how many Americans today seem to feel about recent immigrants and those Americans of Asian/Central and South American/etc ancestry. And I like how the author shows that the Lindholms are not immune to all prejudice just because they are black, although living in the same house, I believe Elma, Nathaniel, Eugene, and Myrtle will find common ground.

Thanks for the page on punch cards- that helped me understand better!
(The example punch card they show seems to have numbers from 0 to 9 on it- so theoretically you could create a string of numbers to feed to the computer? But the rows on the example have more than one number punched- so what order would they go in (would row one be 19 or 91 or even 10)?)

I read that too about Robinette Kowal being a puppeteer. Makes me wonder, how does one decide that they want to be a professional puppeteer? Very cool, but not exactly a normal career choice. And awesome that you’ve heard her on that podcast.

Up to Chapter 8 (16%)

Well, crap. That would give us a good enough reason to colonize Mars and get us all figuring out how to do it pretty darn fast, wouldn’t it. (Although there is still the issue of making it possible technologically- things have come extremely far in the last 65 years and, as you said, would likely have to make another serious jump to make living on Mars possible. But I guess if all the human potential of the planet, physical resources, etc were concentrated on solving this one issue, it might be attainable.)

Even though I knew that all the dinosaurs didn’t die overnight- it took years, possibly even thousands of years or more, for them to all die out (and other species did survive through the “impact winter” and all the other results of that meteorite (Why is a meteorite bigger than a meteor? Isn’t that against the basic rules regarding the building blocks of English or something?))- it’s still so crazy that Elma’s brother and, from what he says, the rest of the population in California are able to be going about life pretty much as normal over three weeks after this meteorite hit that Elma now realizes is going to decimate the whole planet. Even on base, life is going along orderly and relatively calmly, with time for foot rubs and homemade dinners.

I had thought the previous couple chapters had really dragged, despite me liking the characters and the premise, but maybe that was a stylistic choice to show is how relatively normal things were, to lull us into a false sense of security before things get far worse. And it has built up some good atmosphere, grounding the story in the 1950s. But I still think it might have been useful to have some of Nathaniel’s POV through this section, to give us a better idea of what was really going on- as you said, Elma is not in on the action until the end of this last chapter.

I realized that this is a refreshing premise because it’s both a dystopia and not a dystopia. Here we have this Earth-shattering (literally) catastrophe that ends life as we know it, but instead of society collapsing or turning into some horrible, distorted version of itself, it survives and rebuilds, essentially, as we know from the short story. So hopefully it will highlight some of the good in humanity.

message 9: by LB (new) - rated it 2 stars

LB (raceforthepuck) | 160 comments Mod
Up to Chapter 11 (pg 106)

Like you, I read A Wrinkle in Time when I was very young, so I don't remember it all that well. I have the entire quartet, so maybe I'll reread it next year. (Side note: have you seen the movie? Any good?) If the term terrasect originated from those books, I think that's so BA. One of the main concepts in sci-fi space/time travel, developed by a woman back in the day.

I do have to say, though it is still early on, that I am kind of in love with Elma and Nathaniel's relationship. Kowal did a good job writing it so far. Feels authentic and relatable but is far from perfect. Like how Elma resents Nathaniel a little for not telling her about the application process, only to come to realize that he has an application for her in his briefcase. Love <3 So refreshing to see a fictional couple with a functional relationship, instead of the constant bickering and miscommunications you usually get, especially in romantically driven plots.

I didn't know about NACA until David went and worked at the NASA wind tunnel in San Diego. Some of the building there still had NACA and the old logo on them, so he had to explain to me what the heck that meant =D

I agree the sympathies were probably related to those OTHER THERE. I mean, just look at how we treated Japanese Americans in America during that war. And early during the war, the US refused to allow in ships full of Jewish immigrants seeking asylum during the war and basically told them to turn back around.

Excellent question on the punch card. I have no idea. A lot of programming goes over my head unfortunately. I don't know if maybe the card is in a base 10 system, but the computer translated it to binary maybe? But I have no idea which was the card even fed into the machine. I kind of want to find a documentary on them now.

So, meteor versus meteorite versus asteroid - they are all the same thing in principle when they start out. They are defined by how they interact with Earth (who says the world isn't geocentric lol):

- asteroid: stays in space, orbits around the sun
- meteoroid: a piece of asteroid or comet, still in orbit around the sun
- meteor: a meteoroid (asteroid) that vaporizes in the atmosphere (does not survive the trip to the surface)
- meteorite: meteoroid that strikes the surface as a solid body

I have no idea who coined the terms. It may have been that meteorite got named first, and then they derived the other terms from it, etc. Or that originally the meteor and meteorite where the same thing? To me, it would make more sense for a meteoroid to be called a meteor, a meteor to be called a meteorite, and for a meteorite to be called a meteoroid. But astrophysicists like the name things funny. I think that's just their type of humor lol. After all, physicists names the derivatives of distance are jerk, snap, crackle, and pop.

I do like how Kowal used the snow as an excuse for people to doubt the future warming (and what that actually means). That's something that happens every year with climate change, which is why we have to change the term to climate change from global warming.

It is an interesting psychological look into how we react to disasters. Even like with the recent wildfires and hurricanes. California is burning to a crisp and we see it on the news over here in Florida, but we don't really SEE it, you know? Just like Miami is flooding, as is Venice, but even the Florida government still doubts the existence of climate change (or at least isn't allowed to use those words in government.) We see the flashy news of huge catastrophes leading up to, during, and for a few days after, but then life goes on and we forget about the aftereffects (there's a really good essay I read last semester called What They Don't Tell You About Hurricanes that addresses this issue.) We are obsessed with the car crash, but we don't stop to make sure the victims are alright after it, we just drive away and continue our lives until we're in the accident ourselves.

Like we both mentioned it's been slow-paced, but I did appreciate the scene of Elma going shopping, and just what they experience was like. I think there was a lot of lighthanded, almost hidden, social commentary throughout that ordeal.

Emily (emilythebooknerd) | 127 comments I reread A Wrinkle in Time last year because of the movie coming out, which is probably why I can remember. I have not seen the movie- the trailers seemed so completely different from what I envisioned from the book that I lost interest. However, I’ve been meaning to check it out, mostly from curiosity, now that it’s on Netflix.

Your “Earth being geocentric” comment made me laugh. :)
I agree on how the various things should be named, they should have asked you how to name them ;) That’s also funny about snap, crackle, and pop (I can see why the derivative of acceleration is named jerk, though).

Up to Chapter 13 (28%)

Well, I am liking Part 2 so far quite a bit better than Part 1. I feel like the author missed some great opportunities for character development, as well as possibilities for some interesting details on how society and the government rebuilt, how the International Aerospace Coalition was formed and set up, etc. by skipping ahead almost 4 years. But given how things were going in Part 1, I think it was an excellent decision overall.
Even after the big reveal that (view spoiler), the pacing was all wrong in the first section. I read this sentence and wanted to scream: “After that glorious week of calculations, my life returned to volunteering at the hospital while we waited to hear from the President.” (start of chapter 9)
Even the conference with the President didn’t feel that momentous- and I didn’t feel like Elma’s anxiety and fear during that meeting were conveyed to the reader particularly well either.

How did you feel Elma’s anxiety of talking in front of groups of men was handled? Obviously your opinion on that is far more relevant than mine. However, I thought the explanation of the cause was both unrealistic (Would a woman, no matter how intelligent, really have been allowed to attend college at 14 in… the early 1940s? That seems unlikely.) and rather… simplistic, I guess? Not that I can’t see how the situation described could be traumatizing and cause social anxiety, but I thought it could have been handled with a bit more emotional and descriptive complexity and delicacy. I guess I didn’t get the feeling that this is something the author deals with herself. Which is ok, not all the qualities of the protagonists in books need to be #ownvoices, but I haven’t been totally convinced so far by how the author has shown Elma dealing with this issue.

The way the author is utilizing real politicians from history is intriguing to me- there was a Charles F. Brannan who was Secretary of Agriculture in 1952. A very liberal guy, a Quaker (from Denver actually), who had a rather radical plan to alter farming subsidies and the prices of commodities. (The plan went over my head a little on what its ultimate economic effects would be.)
And I was sort of right on why Robinette Kowal had Dewey as President at the time of the meteorite hit. In real history, Eisenhower would have been running for President in May of 1952, possibly in the blast radius, and not still in the military and in Europe as he is in this book. (Wikipedia says Dewey was very instrumental in getting Eisenhower the Republican nomination for President in 1952, which he wouldn’t have been doing, of course, if he was President himself at that time and running for reelection.) So I think the author wanted Eisenhower to be alive to step into the leadership role after the meteorite.

A small point: in this book the first astronauts are the ARTEMIS Seven, instead of the Mercury Seven as they were in our world. Female goddess because of the focus of the book on a female astronaut? Any reason for the choice of a Greek goddess instead of a Roman one (Mercury is Roman)?

I really liked Elma’s description of taking off in her plane (Chapter 11- 25%). I’m terrified of heights and can’t imagine much I’d less like to do than fly a small plane myself, but even I could understand why she loves it and feel her enjoyment.

I agree that Elma and Nathaniel’s relationship is definitely one of the highlights so far. Certainly not perfect, but no ridiculous misunderstandings or petty arguments, at least yet. They are both committed to making it work and willing to compromise. That discussion/scene about the application was excellent.

Yes, the way the characters struggle to keep the focus on the space program and on it for the right reasons, to keep people concerned and being productive after the meteorite, definitely corresponds to similar issues in our reality, specifically with regards to climate change, but also natural disasters. It is amazing how quickly we return to our normal lives and move on, rebury our heads in the sand, unless we’ve been directly affected.

message 11: by LB (new) - rated it 2 stars

LB (raceforthepuck) | 160 comments Mod
Up to Chapter 14 (pg 141)

I too like the second part better than the first part so far. The pacing has been better and I feel like we are finally getting closer to the heart of the story that interests me - the race to space.

I want to say though that I'm not meshing with it as well the past few chapters. As a woman who has always be an outliner and a strain against stereotypes, I think Kowal focuses too much on the resentment that Elma has at women's current positions, restrictions, and rights. Not that she doesn't have a right to be upset, because she totally does. And maybe I just can't imagine how bad the situation was back in the 1950s.

But it just makes Elma's character feel more like a character trying to make a thematic point that a real person. Yes, she would be upset about women not being able to fly. Yes, she would be upset about no women being selected as astronauts. But it feels like an obsession that is always on her mind. And I've never focused on the limitations of my gender. I never let anyone tell me what I could or couldn't do. So to your question, I wouldn't see the difference in anxiety in talking in front of a group of men versus women. Yes, sometimes in my professions I have shocked men by what I've done, but I've never let fear of shock stop me from doing anything. It's hard for me to explain exactly why she's bugged me in the recent chapters, but that's the underlying theme. I think there was a much more empowering way to tackle the divide she faces in her job. I agree that it doesn't feel like Kowal's been in that kind of situation herself. If a man had stared at me so blatantly and tried to put his hands on me like Elma deals with in a WORK situation no less, I would have laid him out, consequences be damned.

I do like her use of history though, as you pointed out. I hadn't made the connection of the difference between the Artemis Seven and the Mercury Seven. That's an eagle eye you have there.

I flew once in a small prop plane with my mom's uncle. She had him barrel roll me my first time up. Not a great first experience. But I've talked to my fair share of pilots and thought she wrote those scenes well. There is something about being up above the rest of the world. A different perspective on life and humanity. And a bit of ego that comes with it too.

I realized as we were talking about the quick attention to natural disasters that I am guilty of this as well. What's the current situation in Hawaii? Is the national park reopened or is the lava still spreading? How about the wildfires in California? Did they finally contain them? I honestly don't know, because like the masses, I didn't keep up with it. My attention has shifted to the government shutdown. And even then, every few days I ask David what's the status of the shutdown because I don't keep up with it.

Can I just say that even though I've had some issues with some of the characterization that I LOVE Mrs. Wargin's introduction.

And I do like how Kowal continues to remind us not just of the gender inequalities of the time, but of the racial tensions as well. She even worked it in as a plot point with the airshow. I'm just concerned that she's focusing too much on these inequality themes then on the exciting premise she designed for herself.

message 12: by LB (last edited Jan 23, 2019 11:31AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

LB (raceforthepuck) | 160 comments Mod
Up to Chapter 17 (pg 172)

I have to say, her social anxiety with presentations/public speaking surprises me a little. I know it stems from her childhood and having been put in the limelight by her teachers against her fellow students. But she has two PhDs. Which means she had to go through the process of defending her thesis. Maybe even two different ones. I'm surprised that achievement didn't help her come up with some coping mechanisms. I feel like the people she had to defend her thesis against - giving high degrees to a woman - would have been a lot more threatening then talking with an old colleague. Though I will be the first to admit than anxiety doesn't follow logic. Elma just feels a little bit of a stock character to me still, defined by the social themes Kowal is bringing to light in the book.

By the way, David is starting a segment in his staff meetings called Unsung Badasses of History. We were walking about it over the weekend so I brought up the WASP women, which I didn't realize was even a thing until this book. David had never heard about them, so we started Googling and learned some fascinating facts and stories about some of the women. We also looked up the first female astronauts. I was so proud that this book gave me something to contribute that he hadn't heard of before.

My over-analytical brain also wondered what the odds of (view spoiler) Seemed a little coincidental, but now I feel like I'm picking the story apart too much.

I think I'm just a little disappointed. The short story was so amazing, and I just haven't been blown away by the novel yet.

(I have to take my copy back to the library tomorrow and wait to check it back out, so it might be a little bit before I can post again, but I promise to get reading faster once I get it back now that I've finally caught up on my work backload.)

Emily (emilythebooknerd) | 127 comments Up to Chapter 23 (53%)

I didn’t mean to jump quite this far ahead before stopping to comment, but I got rather sucked in to the story last night.

I still feel like the pacing of the greater global story and that of the space program has remained a little off, but that might have been inevitable given the POV- Elma is, at least so far, not fully in the center of things, not where the decisions are being made. I think this, as well as some other aspects of the book, could really have been helped by having short sections from Nathaniel’s POV, more on that in a minute. But I guess this book is turning out less about the “race to space” as you put it and more just about Elma and Nathaniel, their relationship, and the changes, challenges, and opportunities the meteorite hit made in their lives.

And many of the other elements of the book are really coming together. I have totally changed my mind on how Elma’s anxiety is being incorporated. (Although I still think the idea of any family sending a 14 year old daughter to college during that time period is unrealistic.) I should have given the author the benefit of the doubt because I think she’s dealing with the issue quite well after all, after she’s delved into it much more. And it makes Elma a more complex, stronger, and more relatable character than simply the fearless female astronaut to me.
After reading your posts, I can understand why the way the anxiety was presented earlier on might have frustrated/irked you some.
And it does seem like in being so successful up until now, she would probably have had to come up with some coping mechanisms. On the other hand, she’s coping well enough that most people have no idea and she’s able to do what she needs to do, including go on television. Maybe that’s masking or hiding instead of coping, but still.
I agree that Elma has seemed a bit of a stock character at times, although I feel like her character is finally coming together better now. Although she could still use some more development. And see my comments on Nathaniel below.

As we hoped, I’m also loving Elma and Nathaniel’s relationship and how it is being developed and used in the story. They really are wonderful and adorable together and even though I know their relationship goes the distance, I am majorly rooting for them. Definitely the best part of the book. And I see the potential for bigger stresses to their marriage soon that they will have to overcome as the book (and series) continues.
The only quibble I have is that I feel like (view spoiler)

However, I wish I had a little bit better idea of Nathaniel as a character independent of Elma. His job and marriage seem his predominant characteristics, and while I feel I have a decent understanding of his relationship with Elma at this point, I wish I knew him a little better. As is, he comes off a little bit unrealistically perfect at times, always saying the right thing. Thus, another reason for wishing for some sections from his POV, given how integral a character he is.
I’d also enjoy learning how he sees Elma. We know how Elma views herself, but how does the world, and Nathaniel in particular, view her? There are often significant differences between the two, even for those of us who try to be fairly self-aware. And with Elma’s anxiety creating so much internal turmoil for her, it doesn’t give us as much opportunity to know how she’s coming across to everyone else.

One thing I found completely unbelievable, though I’m sure it’s realistic, from this section is that Elma had never been called or considered herself “Doctor” York before. I guess I assumed that when universities finally started letting women earn higher degrees, they would have been given the same title as well, although I can see that was a bit naive of me in retrospect. (And my mom, as a medical doctor, still gets things addressed to “Mrs. my father’s first and last name” on rare occasion. Which I find similarly mind boggling.)

There is clearly something more going on with Parker- I don’t think (view spoiler)

So at this point I’m finding it very readable (or listenable- I finally seem to have gotten over my issues of associating the author’s voice with that other character), enjoyable, and am eager to continue.
Although I also still wouldn’t term myself “blown away” like I was by the short story.

Some comments in response to your last two posts:

Now that I’ve read this far, I think the focus on her indignation on the limits placed on women is to show her motivation for (view spoiler) As an intelligent woman with ambition, I do think it would have been really hard back then. For us growing up, even if women hadn’t done everything, women had done enough things that it was conceivable that we could do anything. But back then, women were kept out of everything. As a woman wanting a career, wanting to have something of your own, wanting to be an equal with your husband, there would have just been no options. I can see being pretty angry about that quite a bit of the time.
But it is hard to try and balance that with making Elma a real person. And Kowal might not have quite enough experience with deeper, long-form character development to pull it off.
I do also think that women had to take so much more sexual harassment that it might have seemed to her like she needed to pick her battles, in fact, especially at work where there could be more fallout for her and Nathaniel. Not that I wouldn’t do the same as you (although I’m not sure I’d be effective enough to “lay him out” ;)).

That’s cool about the prop plane, but a bummer about the barrel rolls- that would be scary! I have been up in a helicopter for a little sight seeing jaunt in Alaska a long time ago, but I’m guessing those are pretty different experiences as far as the feel of the aircraft and I don’t think you get as high in a helicopter.
I should ask my uncle and two cousins about what it’s like to fly sometime- they’ve been flying for such a long time in the Air Force and for Southwest that I’m not sure I’ve ever really asked them that question. As I said, for me it holds no appeal, since I’m afraid of heights, but it’s always interesting in my experience to ask someone passionate about something why they love it.
I definitely believe the ego part of it- I also think that those who learn to fly probably have to have decent self-belief to want to take that risk with everything riding on themselves and their own ability.

That’s so true about the eruptions in Hawaii and the wildfires in CA (although I would guess they finally got the latter out since it’s now middle of winter and there’s been no more mention on the news, but I could be wrong). In our defense, there’s so much that goes on anymore in our globalized world, that in order to keep up with all of it would take all our time, and we’d live no lives of our own. It’s hard to be as compassionate and considerate of others and our planet as we all should be- there are so many little things we can do to help, which is wonderful, but no one person can do all of those things. Everybody’s only got so many spoons and resources.

The start of chapter 13 with Mrs. Wargin was very well written. And she’s an interesting character. I feel a bit like she’s introduced a lot of interesting secondary characters, lots of women and minorities or from different countries, but has taken the time to develop hardly any of them or have them continue through the story. Like she introduces characters for very specific, short purposes only and then drops them once that part’s over.

I totally agree that a book more focused on race to space and the unique premise of this book, instead of on race and gender inequality, as there are many books on the latter, but I am also glad that she’s not ignoring the latter.

That sounds like a cool thing to do in his staff meetings!
I didn’t really know about the WASP pilots either (I thought it was weird she was calling herself a wasp pilot at first, since wasp is a negative term for a “white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant”), although I had heard about some similar female pilots in Britain during WWII. It kind of amazes me that neither of us had come across anything about the WASP pilots before.
I do really appreciate that a lot of research on many different topics went into this book.

Now that I think about it, it does seem a bit coincidental that Elma (view spoiler)

Emily (emilythebooknerd) | 127 comments Up to Chapter 30 (70%)

I’m not sure if I like where the author has taken the anxiety storyline, introducing (view spoiler)

Another thing that I never realized and should have: that Jews didn’t start allowing girls to have Bat Mitzvah ceremonies, along with the boys’ Bar Mitzvahs, until after WWII, and that the girls are still not allowed to read from the Torah as part of their ceremony in the Orthodox sect. Again, this really shouldn’t have surprised me, given everything I know about the history of women’s rights. But my friends all go to liberal synagogues, where the rabbi can be female (although of course I do realize that wasn’t the case until fairly recently in any synagogue), they had Bat Mitzvahs. I guess I got tricked by the fact that the term Bat Mitzvah is so ancient- girls have always been considered full adults in the Jewish religion or “Bat Mitzvah” at 12 (now in the more reformed synagogues it’s 13, like the boys), they just never got to have a ceremony.
I liked that the author included Elma’s nephew’s ceremony, has included kind of just the right amount about Elma’s faith and the Jewish community, in fact. Enough that Elma’s character definitely isn’t just Jewish on paper to add diversity, it’s an actual element of her character, not so much that it’s been at all preachy or has taken over a story focused on other things.

Elma went too far (view spoiler)

I see the theory behind the news clips at the start of the chapters, since this book has had a more personal focus. But some of them have seemed really interesting, and I would have loved for the author to have included more information about them as part of Elma’s storyline, instead of the news clippings, which didn’t really work for me as a format. (Like the one at the start of chapter 27- I don’t understand it at all, but I’d really like to. Obviously a really important element of how they’re going to get enough rockets to the moon or Mars to colonize them... And might also allow them to travel even further from Earth.) The clippings kind of had just enough info to remind me that more interesting things were going on in this world than were going on in Elma’s story, things I’d rather be reading about.

On the whole, I’m not really seeing the point of this book, except possibly as a set up for the rest of the series, but with this lackluster start, I’m not sure that many people will be continuing to the rest. This just doesn’t seem to be building anywhere. But maybe I’ll be proven wrong and things will come together in this last 30%.

Emily (emilythebooknerd) | 127 comments Up to Chapter 34 (82%)

Wow. There are (view spoiler)

Emily (emilythebooknerd) | 127 comments Finished

Make sure you read the acknowledgements and the historical note at the end- lots of really interesting stuff in there! I missed them at first since they’re not on the audio.
For one thing, I didn’t know that there are other short stories she wrote before the novels. And there’s one that just came out that’s numbered 1.5. Think they’re all free. Interested in checking them out to see if Kowal remains as good a short story writer or if Lady Astronaut of Mars was a one-off. Might see if I want to continue the rest with the series first before I read more set later in the timeline though, don’t want to spoil myself too much if I’m going to keep reading.
Also turns out that switch with the Presidents I noticed at the beginning was really important, but not for the reason I thought. It makes me bummed this book wasn’t great, because I love an author who thinks her books through with that level of detail.

Ok, well, at least we finally (view spoiler) Does make me wonder if this whole books was just set up for the rest of the series, (in which she should finitely have edited down the series and cut a book, IMO) so I am going to at least start the second. See if it’s more the book we were expecting to begin with.
I was thinking all this before reading the acknowledgements, but am wondering it even more now that I know (view spoiler) (I want to know how she knows Brandon Sanderson. I looked, and I couldn’t find that she had narrated the audiobook for one of his books or anything.)
But I’ll wait till I can get The Fated Sky from the library. And till I finish Windwitch and Bloodwitch. And one of my favorite series has a new book coming out this week, and I have all the reading for the class, and other bookclub books, like On the Come Up. So I guess we’ll have to see if I actually end up getting to it or not. (Speaking of On the Come Up, I’ve heard that despite the narrator being the same as The Hate U Give, the audio is fabulous because the narrator actually raps, which adds a lot. Just FYI.)

What I thought the book did amazing:
-Elma and Nathaniel’s relationship. I feel like the author should consider writing steamy romances because that part was great (although I did feel like the number of private “rocket launches” we were privy too was maybe a couple too many towards the end). But it did what I hoped for with a happy married couple dealing with the stresses of their lives.
-The research and historical details. The acknowledgements and historical note show that the author spent a lot of time getting the details right. (Did you catch the reference (view spoiler)) But I’m not sure the big picture/ outline was quite right. But I learned a lot and think this is a book that will stick with me, making me really think about what pioneering women in any field had to go through.
-The characters and their actions seemed believable. The only thing that didn’t seem super realistic was that (view spoiler) But otherwise, I felt cause and effect made sense and fit with human nature.
-Including issues of race, gender, religion, and mental health. I thought she’d envisioned well the issues women would face trying to become astronauts at that time, as well as the racial prejudices blacks and other non-whites would face in that arena. She added in Jewish history after WWII. The anxiety storyline I still have some mixed feelings over and will get to below.

What it didn’t do well:
-Writing could have been better, with some editing out of some boring details.
-The pacing. I didn’t feel the build up worked very well. And it really makes sense to me that she (view spoiler)
-Plot seemed contrived and forced. Despite what I said above about the characters’ actions being believable, how it all fit together really struggled.

Overall thoughts:
I think this was partially a case of being burned by high expectations. And expectations in general- this was just not at all the story I had expected. Still might not have loved it, but might not have been so disappointed.
I’m not sure if reading the short story beforehand was beneficial (although I’m glad I did because I wouldn’t have wanted to still not like the book and then have liked the story less). It answers so many of the big questions about where Elma’s story is going, where all of humanity’s story is going in this series. And made me expect something extraordinary. There were so many little things that were right in this book, but it just didn’t come together overall for me.

I was (view spoiler)

Parker was an interesting character. Kowal tried to make him not so black and white with Elma finding positives in his teaching style, etc. But not sure that was very successful- he was still a complete jerk (actually, he deserves a worse epithet than that). I had decided his (view spoiler)

Emily (emilythebooknerd) | 127 comments My mom basically agreed with a lot of the above, She was a bit more harsh, especially for the need for tighter editing (which is her pet peeve and a complaint she makes about many a book), right after finishing. She thought the premise could have been amazing, but thought the story the author wrote was really “mundane”.
And she didn’t really love the short story either, which she read after the book.
But I think the book has grown on her some- she says she’s continued thinking about it and we’ve been enjoying discussing it.
One thing she brought up, which I agree with, is that this seems to have been (view spoiler)

Bookclub didn’t reveal any real insights, although it wasn’t a bad book for discussion. This is the library-run one, and strangely only two people from the normal group were there, everyone else was new. On the whole, they definitely enjoyed it more than my mom or I did, or than you were last time you posted. But the members of that bookclub in general, and these new attendees even a bit more so, don’t tend to analyze books too deeply- they kind of go with what stories they find enjoyable and often don’t care too much about the writing style, etc. Some of the regular members get a bit deeper beyond the surface than we did the other night, but my mom and I enjoy going largely because we like the regular members and getting to know them and because it encourages us to both read outside our comfort zones and to read some of the same books so we can discuss them together.
The most interesting comment was from a man who works in aerospace, who thinks the whole premise is a bit flawed, since anywhere the new space program could go, even the moon or Mars, would be just as inhospitable to life as their Earth was going to become. So he didn’t think humans would try. Which I don’t agree with from my understanding of humanity as a whole. From what he said, it definitely seemed like if he were in Elma’s world, he would have been of the “wait and see” opinion: maybe things wouldn’t get as bad as predicted, or maybe most humans would die out, but a few would survive- *shrug*. It was more like fatalism than a “sticking his head in the sand” mentality, like “that’s science, species die out, planets get destroyed...”
I get his point that establishing a colony on Mars might not have been possible, might never really be possible, but I’m pretty sure humanity would have tried, and that’s a bit where fiction comes in.
It did make me wonder though. So far it seems the entire focus has been on (view spoiler)

message 18: by LB (new) - rated it 2 stars

LB (raceforthepuck) | 160 comments Mod
Up to chapter Twenty-Three (pg 236)

I've been dragging my feet and I apologize. Those contemporary romance novels you recommended have sucked me in! And I officially changed the focus of my thesis, so I've been trying to get through them, so I've been subconsciously putting this one on the backburner.

I thought it was interesting you mentioned:

(Although I still think the idea of any family sending a 14 year old daughter to college during that time period is unrealistic.) I made note of this, too, though I didn't even contemplate the time setting. I just remember my babysitter went to college up in New England when she was 15 and she was miserable. She ended up finishing her first year then taking a year or two off before she went back because she just couldn't function properly in that setting (she wasn't old enough to have a license to get around anywhere, she couldn't go hang out with anyone because she wasn't old enough to get into the bars, etc., so she had a very difficult time making friends, etc.)

I concur that, so far, their relationship is still my favorite aspect of the story. Though I do love some of Elma's flying friends. They are a fun, interesting group, who sadly she's been avoiding for the most part.

I agree also on the Nathaniel part of (view spoiler)

It is really hard to put ourselves in the shoes of what it was like for women back in this time frame. (And even in the shoes of women in a LOT of cultures around the world today.) Which is sad, but also makes me really proud of how far we've come and really hopeful that we will continue to push forward. I was listening to a More Perfect episode last week about RBG and how one of the fundamental cases in the woman's right movement was only successful because it was framed as a segregation against men, not women. Which blew my mind! I guess with all that being said, it would be really hard to make a person like real-life Elma come to life at a character and finding that perfect balance. I'm curious to know if Kowal interviewed any women who lived through those types of situations in her research for the book. I bet that have some stranger-than-fiction stories.

I do like how we're getting a little bit of insight into Nathaniel's character (view spoiler) I can't imagine going through something like that. Of having a job that carries that type of responsibility on your shoulders day in and day out. And, in Nathaniel's case, what has to feel like the future of humanity. That's a really strong burden to put on ones self. An alternating POV between Elma and Nathaniel could have been a really interesting way to dive into more of this type of related theme, especially since he's a bit closer to the action.

I kind of have to agree with the aerospace guy in your bookclub. Neil deGrasse Tyson has a take on this that I believe. If we have the technology to terraform another planet and make it inhabitable, we'd be able to fix/adjust to the conditions here on Earth that were requiring us to leave in the first place. So wouldn't it be a better use of resources (and a saver of time) to just do that? I think the only real reason to try to inhabit another planet would be to make our series a multi-planetary species to survive a mass extinction event (this is Elon Musk's principal.) Or maybe gross overpopulation (like in The Expanse.) I don't think it would be a "wait and see" mentality, more like a "fix the problem on the homefront" strategy. Which brings to mind an interesting question though. Because as a society, we tend to focus on the most localized problems (which is why we don't keep up with the fires or the volcanoes unless we live in those areas, just like you mentioned.) So you would think we would tend toward this route of just focusing on fixing the planet we already live on and adapting to the new reality of the climate. And yet, I have to agree with you that I don't think that's what humanity would do, because we're also voyagers into new frontiers, always wanting to explore further, always wanting to claim more for our own. Which teases an interesting thought experiment.

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