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Mary Robinette Kowal

Fiction and Excerpts [11]

Fiction and Excerpts [11]

The Fated Sky

Mary Robinette Kowal continues the grand sweep of alternate history begun in The Calculating Stars with The Fated Sky, available August 21st from Tor Books. The second novel looks forward to 1961, when mankind is well-established on the moon and looking forward to its next step: journeying to, and eventually colonizing, Mars.

Of course the noted Lady Astronaut Elma York would like to go, but there’s a lot riding on whoever the International Aerospace Coalition decides to send on this historic—but potentially very dangerous—mission. Could Elma really leave behind her husband and the chance to start a family to spend several years traveling to Mars? And with the Civil Rights movement taking hold all over Earth, will the astronaut pool ever be allowed to catch up, and will these brave men and women of all races be treated equitably when they get there? This gripping look at the real conflicts behind a fantastical space race will put a new spin on our visions of what might have been.

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Five Really Cool Things I Learned at NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab

It’s like this… An astronaut asks if you want to spend the day at work with him. You say, “Yes.”

More specifically, it was like this. Kjell Lindgren, a NASA astronaut who spent 142 days in space, was a consultant when I was writing The Calculating Stars and The Fated Sky. So by “Would you like to spend the day with me at work?” what he meant was “Do you want to come to the NBL and watch a full dev run?”

Now, if you’re like me, you say, “Yes.”

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Read Mary Robinette Kowal’s “The Lady Astronaut of Mars”

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.

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The Calculating Stars

On a cold spring night in 1952, a meteorite falls to earth and destroys much of the eastern seaboard of the United States, including Washington D.C. The Meteor, as it is popularly known, decimates the U.S. government and paves the way for a climate cataclysm that will eventually render the earth inhospitable to humanity. This looming threat calls for a radically accelerated timeline in the earth’s efforts to colonize space, and allows a much larger share of humanity to take part in the process.

One of these new entrants in the space race is Elma York, whose experience as a WASP pilot and mathematician earns her a place in the International Aerospace Coalition’s attempts to put man on the moon. But with so many skilled and experienced women pilots and scientists involved with the program, it doesn’t take long before Elma begins to wonder why they can’t go into space, too—aside from some pesky barriers like thousands of years of history and a host of expectations about the proper place of the fairer sex. And yet, Elma’s drive to become the first Lady Astronaut is so strong that even the most dearly held conventions may not stand a chance against her.

Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Calculating Stars—set in the universe of her Hugo Award-winning novelette “The Lady Astronaut of Mars”—is available July 3rd from Tor Books.

[Read an Excerpt]

Blending the Impossible: the Many Genres of David D. Levine’s Arabella of Mars

Let’s say you like the Regency era, but you also like space opera, and really like Patrick O’Brian. And Mars. Normally, mixing all of these disparate elements together would be a hot mess, but David D. Levine’s Arabella of Mars is awesome. I am completely in love with this book and want another one yesterday.

What I love about the book is that it’s smart, and it’s smart without sacrificing forward plot momentum.

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Blending the Impossible: David D. Levine’s Arabella of Mars

Let’s say you like the Regency era, but you also like space opera, and really like Patrick O’Brian. And Mars. Normally, mixing all of these disparate elements together would be a hot mess, but David D. Levine’s Arabella of Mars is awesome. I am completely in love with this book and want another one yesterday.

Where to start… How about Mars? The book opens on Mars and it’s the Mars of Edgar Rice Burroughs with vast alien civilizations, but it’s seen through the lens of British colonialism. Wait—that makes it sound dry, and it’s not. Well, I mean, it IS a desert, but the plot is about as far from dry as you can get. What I mean is that Arabella has a nanny, effectively, in the form of Khemel, her Martian protector. They have a genuinely affectionate bond, but the book doesn’t gloss over the way the British Empire created exactly these dynamics here on Earth.

What I love about the book is that it’s smart, and it’s smart without sacrificing forward plot momentum.

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Series: That Was Awesome! Writers on Writing

Ghost Talkers (Deleted Scene)

We’re excited to share this deleted scene from Ghost Talkers, Mary Robinette Kowal’s upcoming novel that’s set in London during the First World War. In the novel, Ginger Stuyvesant works with the Spirit Corps, a special Spiritualist force of the Allies that can pass instant information about troop movements to military intelligence. But when she discovers the presence of a traitor in their ranks, the top brass thinks she’s just imagining things…

Ghost Talkers is available August 16th from Tor Books!

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Ghost Talkers

Ginger Stuyvesant, an American heiress living in London during World War I, is engaged to Captain Benjamin Hartshorne, an intelligence officer. Ginger is a medium for the Spirit Corps, a special Spiritualist force. Each soldier heading for the front is conditioned to report to the mediums of the Spirit Corps when they die so the Corps can pass instant information about troop movements to military intelligence.

Ginger and her fellow mediums contribute a great deal to the war efforts, so long as they pass the information through appropriate channels. While Ben is away at the front, Ginger discovers the presence of a traitor—but without more to corroborate her findings, the top brass thinks she’s just imagining things. Even worse, it is clear that the Spirit Corps is now being directly targeted by the German war effort. Left to her own devices, Ginger has to find out how the Germans are targeting the Spirit Corps and stop them. This is a difficult and dangerous task for a woman of that era, but this time both the spirit and the flesh are willing…

Mary Robinette Kowal’s Ghost Talkers is available August 16th from Tor Books!

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Forest of Memory

Katya deals in Authenticities and Captures, trading on nostalgia for a past long gone. Her clients are rich and they demand items and experiences with only the finest verifiable provenance. Other people’s lives have value, after all. But when her A.I. suddenly stops whispering in her ear she finds herself cut off from the grid and loses communication with the rest of the world.

The man who stepped out of the trees while hunting deer cut her off from the cloud, took her A.I. and made her his unwilling guest. There are no Authenticities or Captures to prove Katya’s story of what happened in the forest. You’ll just have to believe her.

Mary Robinette Kowal’s science fiction novella Forest of Memory is available March 8th from Publishing.

[Read an Excerpt]

Designing the Dress for Of Noble Family‘s Cover Image

Author Mary Robinette Kowal played a huge role in designing the cover for her upcoming novel Of Noble Family—she hand-sewed the dress worn by the cover model! Below, Ms. Kowal shares her thoughts on the process, including in-progress photos and early alternate designs. And of course get a look at the full cover image.

Gideon Smith amazon buy linkThe final book of Kowal’s acclaimed Glamourist Histories, Of Noble Family is the magical adventure that might result if Jane Austen walked on the darker side of the Regency—publishing April 2015 from Tor Books.

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Valour and Vanity (Excerpt)

Check out Mary Robinette Kowal’s Valour and Vanity, the fourth book in her Glamourist Histories series, available April 29th from Tor Books!

After Melody’s wedding, the Ellsworths and Vincents accompany the young couple on their tour of the continent. Jane and Vincent plan to separate from the party and travel to Murano to study with glassblowers there, but their ship is set upon by Barbary corsairs while en route. It is their good fortune that they are not enslaved, but they lose everything to the pirates and arrive in Murano destitute.

Jane and Vincent are helped by a kind local they meet en route, but Vincent is determined to become self-reliant and get their money back, and hatches a plan to do so. But when so many things are not what they seem, even the best laid plans conceal a few pitfalls. The ensuing adventure is a combination of the best parts of magical fantasy and heist novels, set against a glorious Regency backdrop.

[Read an Excerpt]

How I Beat Pat Rothfuss At Being Pat Rothfuss

I am smug. Really, insufferably smug. Why, you might ask, do I have this excessive sense of pride? I will tell you. First, you should know about #TheRealRothfuss game.

For two weeks, Pat Rothfuss and five impersonators will all try to convince you that they are the real Pat Rothfuss on Twitter.

At the end of the two weeks, fans will be asked to vote for who they think the real Pat Rothfuss is, and the winning Twitter user will receive a $1000 donation to the charity of their choice, donated by DAW Books.

Next you should know that I was one of the five Rothfi impersonating Pat.

[In which Mary Robinette Kowal can be any of us at any time!]

The Lady Astronaut of Mars

Introductory note: Mary Robinette Kowal’s novelette “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” was first published in 2012 as part of RIP-OFF, an original audiobook anthology from It was later published in text form in early 2013 on Kowal’s personal blog, along with a (few) “stage directions” the author had provided to the audio producers.

In the nominating phase of the 2013 Hugo Awards, the audiobook appearance of the story received enough nominations to have been one of the finalists for Best Novelette—in fact, it received the third largest number of nominations. However, the committee overseeing this year’s Hugo process decided that it was ineligible in the “Best Novelette” category but eligible in “Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form)”, where, unfortunately, it didn’t actually have enough nominations to be a finalist. It’s our understanding that, without wishing to constrain the committee that will oversee the 2014 Hugo Awards, the people who oversaw the awards in 2013 believe that the author’s 2013 self-publication of the story will make it eligible in 2014.

What we think is that “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” is a fine story, and deserves not merely to be technically eligible for the 2014 Hugo ballot, but also to be read by large numbers of people. So we’re pleased to be presenting it to you here in its definitive, author-preferred text form.

[—Patrick Nielsen Hayden]

[Read “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal]

Where to Find the Doctor in All of My Historical Fantasy Novels

I have had a long standing love for Doctor Who, dating back to middle school when I was watching Tom Baker episodes. The nice thing about a time traveler is that he can turn up anywhere so… in each of my historical fantasy novels—Shades of Milk and Honey, Glamour in Glass, and Without a SummerI’ve inserted an unspoken cameo from the Doctor.

My rule is that I can slide these private jokes in only if they don’t interrupt the story.

[Where to find the Doctor in Shades of Milk and Honey, Glamour in Glass, and Without a Summer]

Without a Summer (Excerpt)

Have another adventure with Jane and Vincent Ellsworth in Mary Robinette Kowal’s Without a Summer, out on April 2:

Jane and Vincent go to Long Parkmeade to spend time with Jane’s family, but quickly turn restless. The year is unseasonably cold. No one wants to be outside and Mr. Ellsworth is concerned by the harvest, since a bad one may imperil Melody’s dowry. And Melody has concerns of her own, given the inadequate selection of eligible bachelors. When Jane and Vincent receive a commission from a prominent family in London, they decide to take it, and take Melody with them. They hope the change of scenery will do her good and her marriage prospects—and mood—will be brighter in London.

Once there, talk is of nothing but the crop failures caused by the cold and increased unemployment of the coldmongers, which have provoked riots in several cities to the north. With each passing day, it’s more difficult to avoid getting embroiled in the intrigue, none of which really helps Melody’s chances for romance. It’s not long before Jane and Vincent realize that in addition to getting Melody to the church on time, they must take on one small task: solving a crisis of international proportions.

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