THE FATED SKY by Mary Robinette Kowal.
Solaris. ebook. £5.99.
Reviewed by Elloise Hopkins.
1961. A routine trip from the moon back to earth turns out to be far from routine for Dr. Elma York when the newer model Cygnus class spaceship ends up off course… inexplicably far off course. As passenger not pilot, this time, Elma can only wait to find out what went wrong and how deep the conspiracy goes. Will her fame as the Lady Astronaut save her, or will she become a tool to further others’ causes once again?
The project to colonise life elsewhere is now heavily centred on Mars, with Elma thoroughly tangled in its politics and possibilities as she continues her work for the International Aerospace Coalition (IAC), and when the FBI hauls her out of training Elma knows the complications of her life are far from over. Her next journey will hold more personal sacrifices and impossible choices as Elma is forced to weigh the greater good against the complex balances of right and wrong.
The Fated Sky is the phenomenal second book in The Lady Astronaut series and track’s Elma’s incredible tale as she finds herself a late joiner on the IAC’s training programme for a mission to Mars, despite protestations from several quarters near and far from home.
Tension is woven through the narrative with an expert hand, exposing the prejudices of race and gender that plague Elma and her team whilst simultaneously balancing them against lighter moments of emotional connection and understanding which offer the reader a true insight into the ups and downs of her journey and her personal struggles to contain her anxieties, and thrive in spite of them.
Elma’s relationships with husband Nathaniel and fellow-astronaut Parker are handled delicately and realistically. Characterisation is one of the series’ greatest strengths along with solid worldbuilding and a narrative that builds to a truly spectacular climax. A must-read series.