The Fated Sky

Mary Robinette Kowal
The Fated Sky Cover

The Fated Sky


The second book of a duology series, brings a lot from the first one. Same strong female character and well-researched world, new situations - some of them not well written. For me, this book wasn't as good as the first one.

Briefly, this world has a space program moving along much faster than ours due to a meteor strike near Washington DC in 1952. By this novel, the effects of this are a permanently occupied lunar base and space station. This novel documents the push towards Mars and the resistance movement (Earth First! Spend that money down here instead of on space). It also hits points in common with our world - racism, sexism, and a negative view of homosexuality.

The novel is told entirely from the Elma York's point of view, just like the last one. The previous novel's antagonist (and first man in space) Stetson Parker is back, working closely with our main character. He is very well written and these excellent scenes eventually show Elma that her own reactions were as much a villain as he was in the past, leading to character growth.

The new "bad guy", a racist astronaut from South Africa, is more caricature than character, though I applaud the author's work on the problem. Her choice of first person on Mars would have made an excellent conclusion to the book. Where this novel falls flat is two male astronauts who end up in a relationship. Even the view through our prudish protagonists eyes does not make up for the fact that this feels disjointed.

I enjoyed the first book and short stories in this universe; I'll reiterate that the author did excellent research. Kudos also to the author as reader in the audiobook, covering story and an international cast of shipmates with equal ease. She also reads for Seanan McGuire. That said, I'm not sure I want to read more about this main character. Book 3 is due out this year, and book 4 is planned for 2022.