Imagine an Earth on which a meteroite hit in 1952, not only decimating Washington D.C. and much of the Eastern seaboard, but setting the planet on a course for human extinction. This is the alternate history laid out in Mary Robinette Kowal‘s Lady Astronaut series, which sees humanity working to get to space and colonize Mars much faster than in our timeline.
The Lady Astronaut series began with Hugo Award-winning novelette The Lady Astronaut of Mars and continues in dual prequel novels The Calculating Stars and The Fated Sky. The Calculating Stars, just out this month from Tor Books, begins with the meterorite crash and follows Elma as she works as a calculator for the International Aerospace Coalition as they work to put a man (or woman) on the moon. Coming up against the sexist expectations and constraints of the time, Elma, a former World War II pilot, dreams of going to space herself.
The story continues in The Fated Sky, out next month, which sees Elma and the International Aerospace Coalition working to put humans on Mars. Set slightly later than The Calculating Stars, in 1961, The Fated Sky, doesn’t shy away from issues of race as the Civil Rights movement begins to gain momentum across the planet.
Den of Geek was lucky enough to talk to Mary Robinette Kowal who, in addition to being an author, is a puppeteer, podcaster, and audio book narrator. We chatted about building out a world that began in a novelette, the importance of showing Southern woman as mathematicians, and sneaking the Doctor into all of her books. Listen to our entire conversation below…
Special thanks to Mary Robinette Kowal for providing her half of the audio for this interview after some recording issues on our end!