I loved Mary Roach's other books, but i just couldn't get into this audio book. I read her other books, so I don't know it is Mary's reading, or the subject matter. I'm kind of a science nerd, so i expected to like the subject. I am going to go ahead and finish this book of in text form rather than trying to listen to it.
No telling what started Mary Roach on her path of learning all the details about life in zero gravity, and the problems NASA and the astronauts have had to deal with and mostly of course--how they dealt with them. It was a totally fascinating book about a little known topic. I don't think she forgot any of the myriad little issues which cropped up in the evolving days of space travel, many are quite humorous--especially in hindsight.
I was amazed at the things I didn't have a clue about, or had even considered before.
Sandra Burr is a very competent narrator; could have been better, but no complaints.
"How do the toilets work in space?"
Every 8-year-old (and a few 80-year-olds) are curious about what it's like to live without gravity, away from the Earth and travelling to Mars. Aside from potty questions, questions about what you'd eat, how you'd get along with your crewmates, what would happen to your bones (among other puzzles others) on a long space flight to Mars are covered by Mary Roach's fun book. The book isn't really about Mars, but about getting people there.
I thought this was great, but then I'm a bit of a space geek....if you aren't interested living in zero-gravity, you may find this book a bit silly. Roach's book isn't a serious treatment of the issues, more of a surface discussion of the problems....with occasional diversions into semi-wicked humor.
I also loved Sandra Burr's reading. She gave the book a lot of flavor and caught the humor very well. She also pronounced just about all of the technical and engineering terms correctly....a pleasant change from many other narrators.
Mary Roach is not squeamish about inquiring into every dark nook of an astronaut's demanding job. But, in doing so, she reveals the extraordinary mental strength and courage possessed by these individuals.
Throughout history, the people who pursue science out of pure passion have taken astounding risks, made extraordinary leaps of faith, their desire to *know* easily outpacing fear. That is what makes books like these a joy to read...being reminded that people like that exist, and they are the reason civilizations progress.
The technical stuff wasn't technical enough, the funny stuff wasn't funny enough, and the deadpan, slow pace of the reader kind of sucks the life out of the writing. It is ok. I had just listened to Sarah Vowel reading Unfamiliar Fishes, and this was just kind of a let down after how much I enjoyed that work.
All the questions you ever had about the complexities and discomforts -- along with the thrills of space exploration but no-body ever was willing to answer.
This is an author who can cover the most intimate and taboo subjects with delicacy and almost lady-like tact, flavored with brutal honesty. How she does it? I think that the narrator has something to do with the audio-book's success.
However you analyze this -- it's an interesting, fun and informative read!
Like all of Mary Roach's work, this is a really fun book to listen to! It's actually a little more well-organized than her previous work, but just as much fun. Her humor and accessibility are still at 100%!
My only complaint is similar to all of her work - there could be more science here. The lay public CAN handle science, and holding back on it does a disservice to those of us who crave more.
First I should mention that this book has almost nothing to do with a journey to Mars, and not very much to do with what to bring when going into space.
What we have here is an extremely detailed recounting of the biological, psychological, and hygiene problems that astronauts have in space -- with a strong focus on the US space flights of the 1960s. If you want to know whether it's hard to urinate in zero gravity, or whether the inside of a space capsule smells bad, or whether astronauts are annoyed by their schedules, this is your book. It was all kind of interesting, but not what I was looking for. I now have visions of floating turds inside a space capsule that are pretty hard to unsee.
Also, the author thinks she is funny, and thinks we want to hear all about how she looked into these topics, what the people she interviewed are like at lunchtime, and whether she enjoyed learning about each subject. Frankly I got pretty tired of learning about her and her unimportant reactions, as opposed to the actual (icky) subjects.
Not having read anything else by this author, I was expecting something more erudite and scholarly. What I got instead is puerile and superficial. I stopped listening after the third chapter but, figuring that I'd already paid for it, finally resumed listening at 2x speed, just so I could get through it as quickly as possible. The humor is often gratuitous and juvenile. The writing is only slightly better than Susan Casey's The Wave--another waste of a valuable Audible credit. If you are looking for a serious book about the psychological and physical challenges of human space travel, I would recommend Buzz Aldrin's memoir, Magnificent Desolation.
I've never been that interested in space travel, but I loved this book and was sad when it ended. I will definitely get more of Mary Roach's books.