Booklist: The first half of Kowal’s two-book tale—The Fated Sky will follow—begins in 1952 when a meteorite strikes Earth, causing a global cataclysm.
The eastern coast of the U.S. crumbles, and the rest of the world faces a climate shift. A former WASP pilot and a brilliant mathematician, Elma York works for the International Aerospace Coalition, along with her engineer husband, expediting efforts to colonize other planets. Recognizing that she and her female colleagues are just as qualified as the men, Elma fights for their right to become astronauts. She builds momentum for their cause by hosting a women-only air demonstration, speaking on a Bill Nye–type kids show, and passing tests with ridiculous rules her male counterparts would never be asked to endure.
Although Kowal’s latest is a definite deviation from her popular Glamour Histories series, she once again strikes a fine balance of integrating historical accuracy—including mid-twentieth-century sexism, racism, and technology—with speculative storytelling. Readers will root for Elma as she breaks barriers and calculates lifesaving equations, all while dealing with sometimes-crippling anxiety. Recommend to fans of realistic sf.