After reading The Calculating Stars, I knew that I had to read its sequel, The Fated Sky. I wasn’t sure how it would measure up, but I knew that if Mary Robinette Kowal delivered an experience that was as good as first, I’d be well entertained.
Kowal didn’t write a comparable sequel. She wrote a better one.
The Lady Astronaut Series is Alternate History Hard SciFi. Set in the mid-twentieth century, a devastating meteor collision has irrevocably changed the course of human history. Like the previous novel, this story feels realistic, sporting a society authentic to its time and science that a rocket scientist might nod along with.
This sequel continues to follow Elma. The world-famous lady astronaut has realized her dreams, but in an ironic twist, finds her station is no longer exciting. In fact, now that they have colonized the moon, her work has become downright routine. But when she returns from her latest stay at the lunar colony, she’s presented with an opportunity of a lifetime: to be a part of the first manned mission to Mars.
What MRK accomplished with The Calculating Stars was again reproduced in The Fated Sky. We get fleshed out characters who feel authentic, dialogue and interpersonal conflicts that speak to the issues of their society, and a capable female protagonist who isn’t without flaws. I actually expect this because I trust MRK to deliver this kind of experience based on her track record.
What I didn’t expect was the extra injection of adventure that I felt was lacking in the previous novel. And though I wished that some of the issues she presented were further explored, I’m hoping that we’re rewarded with more installments in this series that talk to the bigger societal conflicts that are unresolved in the story’s periphery.
If you read The Calculating Stars and enjoyed it, The Fated Sky is a must-read sequel. If you have yet to read the first novel, I recommend it, even more, knowing what awaits you in the second half of the story.