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Packing for Mars Audiobook

Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void

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Audible Editor Reviews

Anyone searching for a laugh-out-loud selection should look no farther than Sandra Burr’s performance of Mary Roach’s Packing for Mars. Those who have enjoyed Roach’s previous books (Stiff, Spook, and Bonk) will not be disappointed by this latest offering. Packing for Mars presents listeners with the quirky realities of space travel usually left out of NASA press releases or articles celebrating the latest accomplishments of space missions.

Sandra Burr captures the humorous, sometimes snarky, but always fascinating bits of information that up to now most of us have managed to live without. For example, while we all know that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin planted an American flag on the moon, Packing for Mars tells us how folks at NASA figured out how to pack the darn thing. We also know that astronauts have ways to answer nature’s call while in space, but from Roach’s book we learn of the experiments that went into perfecting the winning contraption to allow such activity.

Burr’s recitation of Roach’s footnotes is especially entertaining. In these asides are gems of arcane knowledge, including talking toilet paper dispensers at NASA, why there were no “chimp-o-nauts”, and the cocktail party conversation-starter that rabbits and guinea pigs are the only mammals not to suffer from motion sickness.

Throughout Packing for Mars Sandra Burr give lively readings of conversations between astronauts, either from their interviews with the author or read as bits of dialogue from space mission transcripts. Burr’s tone when expressing astronaut Jim Lovell’s irritation at the mission nutritionist’s poor packaging of messy space food should amuse listeners. Equally fun is the depiction of the back-and-forth between Command Pilot James McDivitt and Astronaut Ed White as McDivitt tries to coax an unwilling White, outside of the space module for the first US “space walk”, to come back inside before his oxygen runs out.

Burr’s talent is in full force when she is interpreting the author’s descriptions of pre-spaceflight training. “Weightless Flight Regurgitation Phenomenon” is discussed in detail as is the too-much-information quality of the Soviet’s “Restricted Hygiene Experiments”. From “space euphoria” to “the space stupids”, Burr’s presentation of Mary Roach’s Packing for Mars will cause chuckles that will necessitate explaining to those in close proximity that you are listening to a really funny book. —Carole Chouinard

Publisher's Summary

Space is a world devoid of the things we need to live and thrive: air, gravity, hot showers, fresh produce, privacy, beer. Space exploration is in some ways an exploration of what it means to be human. How much can a person give up? How much weirdness can they take? What happens to you when you can’t walk for a year? Have sex? Smell flowers? What happens if you vomit in your helmet during a space walk? Is it possible for the human body to survive a bailout at 17,000 miles per hour?

To answer these questions, space agencies set up all manner of quizzical and startlingly bizarre space simulations. As Mary Roach discovers, it’s possible to preview space without ever leaving Earth. From the space shuttle training toilet to a crash test of NASA’s new space capsule (cadaver filling in for astronaut), Roach takes us on a surreally entertaining trip into the science of life in space and space on Earth.

©2010 Mary Roach (P)2010 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    CHET YARBROUGH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 07-05-14
    CHET YARBROUGH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 07-05-14 Member Since 2015

    Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.

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    "SPACE TRAVEL GUIDE"

    Mary Roach explores everything from sex to bowel movements in her outer space travel guide, “Packing for Mars”. Roach participates in some NASA training to get a first hand experience of what it takes to be a space traveler. She experiences weightlessness in 22 second intervals. She floats like a butterfly while some of her space mates puke breakfast and lunch.

    Roach does use humor to explain what space travel takes but looking past the humor one is overwhelmed by the gap between current science and technology and human travel to other planets.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    BMac 06-20-14
    BMac 06-20-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Much more than what to pack"
    Any additional comments?

    I really enjoined this book, it was entertaining and informative. The only thing that kept me from giving it 5 stars is that Roach goes off on some tangents in this, I mean she really gets to the bottom of stuff - almost to a fault.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew Thompson Ottawa, Ontario Canada 10-29-11
    Andrew Thompson Ottawa, Ontario Canada 10-29-11 Member Since 2017
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    "Get the paperback"

    Excellent information, very funny too. Unfortunately it is composed of a large number of footnotes which doesn't translate well into an audiobook. Very start/stop story telling.
    Shame though as it was well read and the material was interesting.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    spacecasecake west coast, usa 08-23-10
    spacecasecake west coast, usa 08-23-10 Member Since 2008
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    "Awful narration leads to complete boredom"

    You know that soft, metered female voice that seems to be part of any automated phone service? That's precisely who's reading this book and it dulls down an otherwise humorous and interesting subject.

    Listen to the sample first! This might be a better book to buy in black & white

    29 of 36 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul Portland, OR 08-20-10
    Paul Portland, OR 08-20-10 Member Since 2017

    I like books that have interesting characters and easy to follow plots. For example, Cormoran Strike, is a great character for me.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Bad reader alert"

    Never has the importance of a reader in creating the enjoyment of a book been more apparent than with this book. I listened to "Stiff" by the same author and loved it so much that I raced to download "Packing for Mars". What a disappointment. Sandra Burr was boring and couldn't capture the humorous side of Roach's writing. I'm sure the content of each book was equal but the reading made a gigantic difference in its appreciation. Nevertheless, the book had tons of fascinating information. Mary Roach has the rare skill of taking the most mundane situations of life and addresses their complications when they are placed in outer space. For example, who would think that sex would be so difficult in a space station. How about going to the bathroom? How about not showering for six weeks? Ugh!

    20 of 25 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cather Cumberland, VA, United States 08-12-10
    Cather Cumberland, VA, United States 08-12-10 Member Since 2017
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    "Mary Roach does it again...."

    If Mary Roach releases a book, I buy it. I hadn't realised that until I had purchased this one before finishing reading the TITLE.

    She did not disappoint. The book is fascinating, honest, entertaining, and FUN. And the reader does a fantastic job as well. If you liked her other stuff, get this. If you haven't read her other stuff, get this, then that. :D

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Blythe California 04-09-16
    Blythe California 04-09-16 Member Since 2012
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    "All the weird detail questions you never realised needed asking"

    If you've ever wondered how NASA prepares equipment, supplies, and astronauts themselves for a journey to space, then this book is for you. If you've ever wondered how astronauts use a toilet in space and how early experiments in space toilets failed, in extreme detail, then this book is definitely for you. Once again Mary Roach takes a subject - how to prepare for a journey to space, and ultimately, a journey to Mars - and digs into every obscure and lesser-examined aspect of the question with her usual thoroughness, attention to detail, and quirky sense of humour.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rebecca Cornwall, NY, United States 04-16-12
    Rebecca Cornwall, NY, United States 04-16-12 Member Since 2016

    bec

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    "Fun and Informative"

    Mary Roach has done it again, with her offbeat investigations of the lesser-known corners of modern science.

    Packing for Mars is about space travel, but it opens up the mind to many considerations of life here on Earth as well. She begins by covering the psychological and social qualifications for Astronauts, both in the USA and abroad. The cultural differences between US, Japanese, and Russian training programs are illuminating. Another subject I liked was nutrition and waste management in space.

    Sandra Burr's reading--which tends toward professional aloofness, though you can clearly hear the smile in her voice at many points in the story--is very well suited to the writing.

    This is a funny book, and enlightening. It's one of my favorite Audible books, and I've recommended it to others (my mom also loved it). If you're very squeamish, you might find yourself fast forwarding occasionally, but I personally loved the graphic bits.

    Roach brings science and research to life. I definitely recommend this book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Suzn F Fletcher, VT, US 08-17-10
    Suzn F Fletcher, VT, US 08-17-10 Member Since 2013

    I believe a reviewer should finish a book before submitting a review. What do you think?

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    "Interesting information about secretions"

    The book was pretty much in line with some of the other books authored by Mary Roach. She really can make a technical subject more interesting than expected.
    However, this one was very preoccupied with the astronauts bodily functions. So kinda cool, but it became a bit of more of the same after a while for me. It was okay.

    11 of 14 people found this review helpful
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    robert los angeles, CA, United States 08-24-10
    robert los angeles, CA, United States 08-24-10
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    "Do not listen to this while you are driving"

    It could be dangerous because the narration is sooooo boring and robotic you may fall asleep. It's too bad because the content of the book is pretty good, but the narration is just horrible and near impossible to withstand for more than a few minutes at a time.

    13 of 17 people found this review helpful
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  • Pete
    Farnham, Surrey, United Kingdom
    9/18/10
    Overall
    "Unexpected Gem"

    I bought this book on a whim but what a interesting book it goes right into the detail of man space flight and explains a lot of thing the TV never told us, I listen to my books while walking to work but with this one I made up walks just to listen to it!

    I fully recommend it if you have half a interest in space flight

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Nicola Fern
    Wolverhampton, UK
    2/1/11
    Overall
    "Great book, horrible narration"

    Pushes all my favourite buttons...geeky, funny and thoroughly entertaining.

    I got the audiobook from Audible before I bought the hardback, and hated it - the reader they used has such a mechanical, robotic sounding voice and flat delivery that not an iota of humour survived, and it was so monotonous that I couldn't concentrate on it. However, I could tell there was a great book struggling to make itself heard so I bought the hard copy and I'm very glad I did.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    2/18/11
    Overall
    "My best audiobook purchase yet"

    Bought this book on a whim, based on another good review, and I wasn't dissapointed. This was a fantastically engrossing book, highly accessible and endlessy engaging.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • StapleRemover
    10/17/16
    Overall
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    "Stilted at first, gets better"

    The story is amazing but initially the narrator sounds very robot like. Footnotes don't help and break up the narrative. Eventually you warm to the voice. I even laughed out loud on occasions.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Swati
    3/8/16
    Overall
    Performance
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    "Good story but a cynical narration"

    I struggled to finish it. mainly the cynical tone of the narrator was not palatable.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • kelan
    7/21/15
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    "If you're interested in space and like QI this may be your thing"

    I wouldn't normally go for a non fiction audiobook but this book is well worth the break in the norm. It's full of facts and narrated excellently. If you're even glancingly interested in what's involved in space travel & if you like a multitude of interesting tidbits then this is the book for you.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • gordon
    co.cork, Ireland
    11/19/11
    Overall
    "My worst download yet!"

    I was looking forward to hearing this but sadly I found it annoying. It was not only the reader's delivery, as another reviewer mentioned, it was the writing. This woman seems obsessed with lavatorial issues and sex. This would be ok it it wasn't treated in such a 'nudge-nudge' schoolgirlish way.. Couldn't wait for it to be finished to be honest!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Janice
    Cape Town, South Africa
    8/4/11
    Overall
    "Packing for Mars"

    I waited for this book to come out for absolutely ages but was somewhat disappointed in the result - too much anticipation, I suppose. There was considerable research, all no doubt solid and reliable, but the author did rather harp on certain subjects to the point of irritation - enough already, move on, I've got the point! There were times, too, when I had to fast forward, such was the graphic nature of the content, but it was all in the interests of science so relevant to the subject matter. It is a little out of date, given the latest developments in space science, but might become a school text book at some stage in the future, now that the space shuttle has been moth-balled. All round, it was interesting, though the narrator's rather high pitched nasal voice began to grate after a while.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Ann
    Shoeburyness, United Kingdom
    6/14/11
    Overall
    "Yet another great book"

    I can't add much to the other reviews except to say the book manages to walk a fine line between technical explanations and funny stories, and does it brilliantly. It's the epitome of popular science, and very easy to listen to. I was quite surprised by the appearance of Sylvia Saint (well, the mention of her - she didn't agree to an interview) but am impressed by the author's dedication to finding out everything about the indignities of space flight. The one thing that did drive me a little bit mad was the constant 'note' interruption - I imagine this would have been just as irritating in the print version, but foot notes REALLY don't work well in audio form, not in the middle of chapters. Based on this title, I also read two more of her books and they maintain the same high standard.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • bob
    1/25/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "10/10 wud ign"

    it was so gud it wus sheet. so I change my mind 0/10 wud machinima

    0 of 6 people found this review helpful

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