The Calculating Stars

Mary Robinette Kowal
The Calculating Stars Cover

The Calculating Stars


Competent but nothing exceptional, inspiring or memorable. It's not something I would read again.

I can understand why the novel was nominated for awards. It's plot and characters as well formed but by the time we get things rolling, the novel becomes predictable. It's basically a lot of things we all know from history, just presented as alt-history.

I thought her impact science gave the impression that it wasn't cutting edge. In the past 20 years we've really learned a lot about impacts with the work on the Younger Dryas series of impacts on the North American ice sheets 12 thousand years ago, which produced the mega-fauna extinctions. She's dealing with a society that doesn't even understand the dinosaur extinction, but we're to believe that an impact and then an impact winter, could produce a runaway greenhouse effect? That this idea could easily be accepted? Climate science was in its infancy back then and the voices against this seemed to few and to easily dissuaded. The opposition to such ideas would, I think, be much more ingrained. It wasn't until the very early 60ies that the idea of a runaway greenhouse effect, on Venus, was accepted. And I should mention that the fires or the length of the impact winter seemed on a much smaller scale too.

And let's not forget the sexism and racism. It was present, but it also seemed seriously underplayed and overcome.

This is a book I wanted to like, but it had all these little nagging things that seemed off. And in the end, I'll just move on.