Episode 420 | Mary Robinette Kowal

Mary Robinette Kowal author interview

Today’s author interview is with Mary Robinette Kowal, author of The Calculating Stars. We talk about puppetry, how an injury brought her back to writing, short stories, the fascinating story behind The Calculating Stars, embracing what makes us different, and much more.

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

Mary Robinette Kowal’s science fiction debut, The Calculating Stars, explores the premise behind her award-winning “Lady Astronaut of Mars.” 

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On a cold spring night in 1952, a huge meteorite fell to earth and obliterated much of the east coast of the United States, including Washington D.C. The ensuing climate cataclysm will soon render the earth inhospitable for humanity, as the last such meteorite did for the dinosaurs. This looming threat calls for a radically accelerated effort to colonize space and requires a much larger share of humanity to take part in the process.

Elma York’s experience as a WASP pilot and mathematician earns her a place in the International Aerospace Coalition’s attempts to put a man on the moon, as a calculator. But with so many skilled and experienced women pilots and scientists involved with the program, it doesn’t take long before Elma begins to wonder why they can’t go into space, too.

Elma’s drive to become the first Lady Astronaut is so strong that even the most dearly held conventions of society may not stand a chance against her.

A professional puppeteer and voice actor, Mary Robinette Kowal spent five years touring nationally with puppet theaters and performed for LazyTown (CBS), the Center for Puppetry Arts, and Jim Henson Pictures.

Kowal was the vice-president of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America from 2010 to 2012. She currently co-hosts the Writing Excuses podcast with Brandon Sanderson.

A multiple Hugo winner, and a frequent finalist for the Nebula and Locus Awards, Kowal lives in Chicago with her husband Rob and nine manual typewriters.


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