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Amazon Best Books of the Month, August 2010: With her wry humor and inextinguishable curiosity, Mary Roach has crafted her own quirky niche in the somewhat staid world of science writing, showing no fear (or shame) in the face of cadavers, ectoplasm, or sex. In Packing for Mars, Roach tackles the strange science of space travel, and the psychology, technology, and politics that go into sending a crew into orbit. Roach is unfailingly inquisitive (Why is it impolite for astronauts to float upside down during conversations? Just how smelly does a spacecraft get after a two week mission?), and she eagerly seeks out the stories that don't make it onto NASA's website--from SPCA-certified space suits for chimps, to the trial-and-error approach to crafting menus during the space program's early years (when the chefs are former livestock veterinarians, taste isn't high on the priority list). Packing for Mars is a book for grownups who still secretly dream of being astronauts, and Roach lives it up on their behalf--weightless in a C-9 aircraft, she just can't resist the opportunity to go "Supermanning" around the cabin. Her zeal for discovery, combined with her love of the absurd, amazing, and stranger-than-fiction, make Packing for Mars an uproarious trip into the world of space travel. --Lynette Mong
Roach (Stiff) once again proves herself the ideal guide to a parallel universe. Despite all the high-tech science that has resulted in space shuttles and moonwalks, the most crippling hurdles of cosmic travel are our most primordial human qualities: eating, going to the bathroom, having sex and bathing, and not dying in reentry. Readers learn that throwing up in a space helmet could be life-threatening, that Japanese astronaut candidates must fold a thousand origami paper cranes to test perseverance and attention to detail, and that cadavers are gaining popularity over crash dummies when studying landings. Roach's humor and determined curiosity keep the journey lively, and her profiles of former astronauts are especially telling. However, larger questions about the "worth" or potential benefits of space travel remain ostensibly unasked, effectively rendering these wild and well-researched facts to the status of trivia. Previously, Roach engaged in topics everyone could relate to. Unlike having sex or being dead, though, space travel pertains only to a few, leaving the rest of us unsure what it all amounts to. Still, the chance to float in zero gravity, even if only vicariously, can be surprising in what it reveals about us.
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I fell in love with all things space at the ripe old age of 11. I found a science textbook talking about space and started planning out my future like teenaged girls... Read morePublished 8 days ago by Crystal Starr Light
A fun and informative look space travel as of a few (6 or so) years ago.Published 14 days ago by Robert A. Ramsdell
Fun and approachable with accurate science, this is a great book to pick up for questions about what daily life is like in space or just general curiosity. Read morePublished 16 days ago by Mathew D
Tons of detail related with wit and sometimes a little snark. Answers questions you didn't know enough to ask. Enjoy!Published 17 days ago by Jana Boardman
An excellent book with tons of information yet equally as entertaining as informative. Mary Roach really went to infinity and beyond with her efforts in creating this masterpiece.Published 1 month ago by TechGuy
Or at least those who write about space travel or life on modest space stations. Granted in a couple centuries some of these contemporary issues may be "solved," but the psychology... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Frosty Cold One
This was pretty interesting. I liked it but wouldn't particularly recommend it and wouldn't bother reading it again. It went into the donation box. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Susan Yankle