Mary Robinette Kowal is giving us more stories from her punch-card punk universe! Kowal has signed a six-figure deal with Tor Books to continue the alternate history series with two more books about mathematician/astronaut Elma York and her colleagues: The Relentless Moon and The Derivative Base will follow The Calculating Stars and The Fated Sky in 2020 and 2022, respectively.
As if that wasn’t enough, Kowal’s sparkling standalone SF murder mystery, that she describes as “The Thin Man in Space,” will hit shelves in 2021!
Kowal recently spoke about her series with The Verge, sharing details about the future of the series, and a look at a brand new character.
The Lady Astronaut series is an expansion of Kowal’s 2013 novelette, “The Lady Astronaut of Mars.” While the novelette takes us into a future that features a colonized Mars, the first two novels of the series, The Calculating Stars and The Fated Sky, jump back in time to the late 1950s, and begin with a catastrophic event: a meteor hits the Atlantic Ocean, just a few miles from Washington D.C., and most of the U.S. Eastern Seaboard is destroyed. Elma York survives the disaster, but quickly realizes that the meteor strike has shifted Earth’s climate permanently, and that humanity only has a few years to get into space before the planet becomes unlivable. In the face of extinction (with, of course, plenty of dissent from climate change deniers) the U.S. relocates its capitol to Kansas, and bands with other nations to form the International Aerospace Coalition.
The Calculating Stars and The Fated Sky largely deal with how the sexism and racism of the 1950s almost derail the whole plan, with York and other female mathematicians and pilots having to fight for the opportunity to go into space. The Relentless Moon will tell a parallel story to The Fated Sky, following York’s friends Nicole Wargin and Myrtle Lindholm as they adapt to life in the Lunar Colony. The Derivative Base will return us to Mars, and introduce a new character slightly based on Ola Mildred Rexroat, the only Native American woman to become a WASP during World War II.
Kowal also spoke specifically about the ways future short fiction pieces could allow her to open the story:
I feel free to play up and down the timeline of the Lady Astronaut universe. There are so many stories that I want to tell in this world. Like… there’s a Girl Scout troop in The Calculating Stars that is spelunking when The Meteor hits. They come up and everything is just… gone. I refer to them in passing in the novel, but I want to dig into that.
Meanwhile The Spare Man will feature a retired detective, and a witty heiress who have to solve a murder during their honeymoon cruise…which just happens to take place on a starship traveling between Earth and Mars.
There are many more details about the punch-card punk universe, and many stories left to tell! Head over to The Verge to read the full interview!