Friday, July 27, 2018

The Lady Astronaut of Mars (Lady Astronaut #2.5), by Mary Robinette Kowal

Tor Books, May 2014 (original publication December 2012)

Emma York led the expedition that paved the way for human life on Mars--thirty years ago. Now, much as she'd like to fly again, she's living on Mars, caring for her dying husband, and old enough that though she stays on the rolls, she know she has no realistic chance of once again crewing a spaceship.

Then a habitable planet is discovered in another solar system, and the first trip is going to be long and difficult in ways subsequent trips won't be. NASA has very good reasons for wanting to send an older astronaut, and someone who is very good PR.

Emma York is older, experienced, level-headed--and a popular, beloved public figure. NASA wants her to go.

And she wants to go. She wants very much to go. Except for one thing.

Her husband is dying. It'll be a year before she leaves, if she the takes the job. Her husband might die by then--or he might not. They have no children. She might be leaving him to die alone.

Emma, her husband, their doctor, and their boss are all well and sympathetically portrayed. This is both a genuinely science-fictional story, and a compelling character study. What will Emma do? What should she do? What is the right thing?

It's a novelette, not a long read, and well worth your time. Strongly recommended.

I bought this story.