Rated Reads

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

by Mary Roach

Rated: Moderate

It all comes down to gravity (pun intended, sorry). Extended space flight involves difficulties with fuel, payload, radiation and a host of other technical issues, all of which pale in the presence of humans needing to survive without gravity as a constant companion. Eating, bathing, sleeping, exercise, dressing and, of course, the unmentionables, all need to be considered for travel through this completely abnormal environment.

In her usual quirky way, the incorrigible Mary Roach explores the science and subjects involved in trying to discover how people could live for extended periods in cramped quarters, hurtling through space, and not completely lose their minds. Nothing escapes her scrutiny, and she is not afraid to ask whether any aspect of human activity has ever been explored in space.

The best part is that she learns that NASA, along with space agencies of other nations, have indeed pretty much thought of everything already. EVERYTHING. Her biggest challenge is to locate the answers to the most colorful questions, and try to interview the people involved (if she can find them, and if they are willing to talk. Some of the stuff is pretty personal.).

I have been a fan of Roach for many years, and although this was certainly an enjoyable book, it seemed a lot more choppy and rough, compared to her previous works, almost as though she was in a hurry to finish it. The humor was more forced than natural, although still absolutely hilarious in plenty of places.

Rated: Moderate. Three uses of strong language scattered among about two dozen mild to moderate terms and yet another half-dozen crude references to a certain male body part.

— Reviewed by Craig Smith

Craig Smith is chief medical officer of Tacoma Cat Hospital. In addition to providing book reviews on Rated Reads, he podcasts about feline health issues through iTunes and www.tacomacat.com.

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  • Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
  • by Mary Roach
  • Rated: Moderate
  • Genre: Nonfiction
  • Reviewer: