TBR Review: “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal

The Lady Astronaut of Mars

“The Lady Astronaut of Mars”
by Mary Robinette Kowal
Series: None
Genre: Science Fiction
Published by Tor
E-book, free
31 pages
Grade: A
Synopsis: A Finalist for the 2014 Hugo Award for Best Novelette. Thirty years ago, Elma York led the expedition that paved the way to life on Mars. For years she’s been longing to go back up there, to once more explore the stars. But there are few opportunities for an aging astronaut, even the famous Lady Astronaut of Mars. When her chance finally comes, it may be too late. Elma must decide whether to stay with her sickening husband in what will surely be the final years of his life, or to have her final adventure and plunge deeper into the well of space.

Time was when I couldn’t walk anywhere on Mars without being recognized as the Lady Astronaut. Now, thirty years after the First Expedition, I was just another old lady, whose small stature showed my origin on Earth.


  • Won the 2014 Hugo for Best Novelette (not a term I’d heard before!) For the Hugo Award the novelette category is given to a science fiction or fantasy story between 7,500 – 17,500 words.
  • I love the cover!
  • The author packs a lot into a story of only 31 pages. This makes me want to read more short fiction!
  • This was an emotional read for me . . . maybe because my husband and I have been married 33 years and I can imagine this scenario.
  • I like how honest Elma and Nathaniel are. The story is told from Elma’s POV so we get more of her internal thoughts. And some of those thoughts she’s ashamed to have.
  • To me this was a perfect story . . . not too long and not too short. It told all it needed to in these few words.
  • For me this is the best kind of love story.
  • I like the addition of Dorothy into the story. The story’s opening paragraph:

Dorothy lived in the midst of the great Kansas prairies, with Uncle Henry, who was a farmer, and Aunt Em, who was the farmer’s wife. She met me, she went on to say, when I was working next door to their farm under the shadow of the rocket gantry for the First Mars Expedition.


  • None

And a few thoughts . . .

  • I read this book for Wendy’s January TBR Challenge (Short Shorts).
  • I don’t usually read short fiction and I’ve had this book for a while so was glad for the impetus from the TBR Challenge to read this.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author: Jan

I love to read--especially mysteries, science fiction and fantasy. I also love blogging, photography, gardening, playing Mah Jonng, reading with a cat on my lap, throwing a ball for a dog, creating cards to send to family and friends, reading book blogs, using my computer.

10 thoughts on “TBR Review: “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal”

  1. This sounds interesting and emotionally powerful. While it’s not a genre I would normally gravitate towards the length of the novelette (a new one for me as well) has me willing to take a chance.


  2. I adored this one! It was my first novelette too, and also the first time I’ve read Mary Robinette Kowal’s work. After reading it I went out and bought all the books in her Glamourist Histories series because I loved her writing so much. The inclusion of Dorothy was very interesting and I thought that her tragic backstory was a good parallel to what was going on with Elma and her husband. Definitely an emotional read!


    1. I’ve been wanting to read the Glamourist Histories and just haven’t gotten to them yet, but since I read this story I’m wanting to start! That’s a great observation, Danya, about the parallel with Dorothy and Elma and her husband. I hadn’t thought of that.


  3. Good review, Jan! I’ve had this on my ereader for a while now, and I should really dust it off (the old epub reader) so I can read it – which I probably wouldn’t do if it weren’t for your recommendation.


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