Publishers Weekly: Kowal continues her exquisite exploration of race and gender relations in an alternate 1961 that is still shockingly close to our own.
The stunning second part of Kowal’s duology picks up 10 years after a meteor strikes Earth (depicted in The Calculating Stars) with series heroine Elma now serving as a pilot to the lunar colony. After she survives being taken hostage by a terrorist organization opposed to space travel, Elma is asked to join the first Mars mission, replacing a close friend and incurring the resentment of the existing crew. For Elma and her colleagues on both ships, contained in close quarters for three years far from family and friends, the journey is filled with tension, joy, terror, and sorrow, including the deaths of crew members and an anxious period when contact with Earth is cut off.
The clever details of life in space—from baking challah in zero gravity to finding tricks for communicating privately, as well as the more horrifying practicalities of how to deal with illness and corpses—create an immersive world that will stay with the reader well past the final page.