About the Lady Astronaut novels

The first novels are a duology, The Calculating Stars and The Fated Sky.

Where do these books fit in with the short story “The Lady Astronaut of Mars”?

These books are prequels. There are other stories, too! Here’s the list in internal chronological order:

“We Interrupt This Broadcast”

The Calculating Stars

“Articulated Restraint”

The Fated Sky

The Relentless Moon

The Martian Contingency – coming soon!

“The Phobos Experience” – in Fantasy & Science Fiction July 2018

“Amara’s Giraffe”

“Rockets Red”

“The Lady Astronaut of Mars” 

Note that no one in the whole Lady Astronaut universe knows about the events of “We Interrupt This Broadcast.” At least, no one alive.

It’s not necessary – you can read them in any order. The novels are first, chronologically.

I talk about my research more in my historical note, but actually going to NASA and talking to astronauts was … I’m still giddy. Astronauts Kjell Lindgren and Cady Coleman were amazingly generous with their time. Kjell invited me to see a full run (simulated spacewalk) at the Neutral Buoyancy Lab, which was Very Cool. And Cady gave me tons of details about how being inside a spacesuit was different as a woman than as a man, because the suits are designed for men. Catalog this as “things Mary Robinette did not think about”.

If there are numbers on the page, those are real, hard science. Also, none of it is my math. There are two general sources for the math and computations. One of those is my rocket science consultant, Stephen Granade, who was with me for both books, providing math when I needed help. You can read more about that process here. The other source is Werner von Braun’s Das Mars Projekt, which is technically a novel, but is really a dramatization of a technical handbook. He is widely regarded as one of the fathers of modern rocketry, and wrote this in 1947 with a plan to go to Mars using technology that was available, or easy to extrapolate, at the time. At the back of the book, he has tables of formulas and calculations. I borrowed liberally from that.

Elma approaches math like it’s magic, with the same sense of wonder. That’s what I want in my science fiction, especially when we’re talking about rocket launches!

Honestly, the sexism is pretty much the same as it is now. Oh, there are differences in degrees, but being underestimated because of being a woman? That’s a problem that hasn’t gone away. So I had them navigate those waters using many of the same tools with which I navigate them today.

There’s a tool for this:

These are approximates but…
Set: Diameter = “Hartley”; Density = “8000”; Angle = 60 degrees; Velocity = 25km; Water of depth = 21 ft.
For distance, put in your distance from Chesapeake Beach.
If you think you are okay, remember winter is coming.

1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cornmeal
Piecrust – I make a standard crust, but substitute bourbon for the water.
Heat oven to 350°F.

Prep pie crust and keep cool.

Combine butter, sugar and cocoa. Add the eggs and vanilla. Whisk it until blended and thickish. Stir in cornmeal until just combined; pour into crust.

Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until pie is set and top begins to resemble the surface of the moon. Dark and crusty with cracks running across its surface. Cool it. Serve at room temperature. If you are Jewish like Elma, and it’s a dairy night, adding whipped cream is a lovely touch.

I would have read it at their age. But — for full disclosure. I drop the f-bomb twice. It’s earned, though. There’s cursing, but no casual cursing. The main character is happily married so there are sexy-fun times. Penetration is implied but not depicted.

Scroll to Top