Monthly Tor free ebook reading: 'The Calculating Stars'

Discussion in 'Non-WOT - Literature and Fiction' started by Thaddius al'Guy, Jun 25, 2020.

  1. Thaddius al'Guy

    Thaddius al'Guy That Guy Aes Sedai Forum Moderator Mafia Admin

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    Greetings, everyone!

    If you are unaware, Tor Publishing gives away a free ebook every month. This month, the book is 'The Calculating Stars' by Mary Robinette.

    Synopsis:
    On a cold spring night in 1952, a huge meteorite fell to earth and obliterated much of the east coast of the United States, including Washington D.C. The ensuing climate cataclysm will soon render the earth inhospitable for humanity, as the last such meteorite did for the dinosaurs. This looming threat calls for a radically accelerated effort to colonize space, and requires a much larger share of humanity to take part in the process.

    Elma York’s experience as a WASP pilot and mathematician earns her a place in the International Aerospace Coalition’s attempts to put man on the moon, as a calculator. 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.

    Elma’s drive to become the first Lady Astronaut is so strong that even the most dearly held conventions of society may not stand a chance/ against her.

    Download the book here by the June 26th 11:59pm ET:
    https://ebookclub.tor.com/

    Starting on the 27th, We'll be doing a read-through in this thread. So get your free book and join on in! It'll be a fun time!
     
  2. Leira Galene

    Leira Galene Aes Sedai Head of the Brown Ajah Forum Moderator

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    I've had this book for a while and have yet to read it! I don't know if I'll have time in the near future, though.
     
  3. Stasia t'Andrei

    Stasia t'Andrei Just Your Average Sith Lord Aes Sedai Forum Moderator Marketing Project Manager

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    I’m going to give this a try! I’ve been trying to read more and this book sounds very interesting.
     
  4. Elia LePhant

    Elia LePhant Aes Sedai Historian

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    I read this last month and really enjoyed it! I'll join the discussion. :)
     
  5. Kassina Tendar

    Kassina Tendar Aes Sedai

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    Ooo, I'll join! I just finished A Memory Called Empire and have been wanting to read the Calculating stars. :)
     
  6. Elia LePhant

    Elia LePhant Aes Sedai Historian

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    How was that Kassina? I was going to read that soon.
     
  7. Kassina Tendar

    Kassina Tendar Aes Sedai

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    I absolutely loved it!! The only sad thing is that I now have to wait until 2021 for the sequel. :lol

    Martine has a very engaging and evocative writing style and I really loved the way she described the process of the main character exploring a new culture. It's a character-driven sci-fi story with some mystery elements with a focus on intercultural and political conflict. It hit on so many of the things I love about fiction and sci-fi. ^^ Also I found the world she created to be fascinating! :love
     
  8. Elia LePhant

    Elia LePhant Aes Sedai Historian

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    Sounds like my favorite kind of book!! Thanks, I'll definitely start it soon.
     
  9. Stephen Lightheart

    Stephen Lightheart Aes Sedai

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    Oh! I can't recommend this series enough! I guess I'll have to reread. ^^
     
  10. Kassina Tendar

    Kassina Tendar Aes Sedai

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    Yay!! I'm curious to hear your thoughts once you start it. :)
     
  11. Thaddius al'Guy

    Thaddius al'Guy That Guy Aes Sedai Forum Moderator Mafia Admin

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    It's that time people!
    I finally had some time to sit down and flesh out each chapter by page number.

    For this first week, we'll do all of Part 1, which includes Chapters 1-9. That's about 49 pages. It should be easy enough. That's an average of 5.4 pages per chapter. We'll let this week run from Tonight through next Friday evening.

    As always, you're free to read ahead of the group, but place anything past chapter in in spoiler tags for discussion.

    Let's get reading!
    (Also, if you want to join in and need a copy of the ebook, give me a PM and I'll shoot you a copy of the ebook. I'll only do this for the first week since this was more or less a last minute thing I decided to do.)
     
  12. Kassina Tendar

    Kassina Tendar Aes Sedai

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    Thanks, Thaddius! :swordy I always really appreciate you separating out the books by chapter for us and keeping us updated.

    I'm excited to start reading! :)
     
  13. Thaddius al'Guy

    Thaddius al'Guy That Guy Aes Sedai Forum Moderator Mafia Admin

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    Here's my thoughts on Chapter one through three as of now. I'm really enjoying it so far.

    Ch1:
    Does a pretty great picture presenting the total devastation of the meterorite hitting earth. I felt kinda chilled by the realization that the nearest radio reporter they could find was in Philadelphia and not DC or the surrounding area.

    Ch2:
    Chapter paints a pretty destuctive and poignant picture of the chaos that has only begun. The lone arm was very surprising. Kinda haunting about the trip with seeing no one else, and finding Mr. Goldman at the end of the chapter.

    Ch3:
    Meeting up with the other fighter pilots, then having the emergency landing, I already really feel emotionally invested in everything going on. This certainly has a cinematic feeling to it and it's really drawing me in. When Parker enters the room, you almost instantly hate him based on Elma's description of it. I was going 'AHHH' when he immediately talks about Russians and nuclear war, but then again, this is taking place in the early 50s, it was in the middle of the second Red Scare so it makes sense.
     
  14. Elia LePhant

    Elia LePhant Aes Sedai Historian

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    Yes! The opening chapters are so strong. You immediately get a very clear picture of the devestation and how quickly the world changed for them.
     
  15. Kassina Tendar

    Kassina Tendar Aes Sedai

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    Just finished chapter 4!

    The start of this novel, with fire raining down on the earth after an impact reminds me of the plot of Seveneves by Neal Stephenson. (though the specifics are very different) That's a much more long-term sort of apocalypse, though, where a disaster happens and they have a period of years to prepare for the destruction of the Earth. I knew nothing about this book before I started reading it (other than the good reviews I'd heard), so I don't know if this is going to turn into a literal apocalypse on the scale of Seveneves, but the premise made me think of it.

    I put this book in my personal category of books like Seveneves and Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. They both deal with an apocalypse, Seveneves being both during and after the apocalypse and Station Eleven being purely post-apocalyptic. They were both excellent novels, but they also took place on the real planet earth and showed a very real image of what an apocalypse could be like. And they really affected me emotionally. I'm sure this applies for most of us here since we're all in a book-themed community, but I tend to get really emotionally invested in books. I really liked Station Eleven and would recommend it to others, but I don't think I'd ever want to read it again because it was so painful to read. (if I remember correctly, it's mostly a group traveling across post-apocalyptic North America) Seveneves also was an excellent novel.... but the apocalyptic portions of it were painful to sit through because they just felt so real. (the latter half of the novel was less painful in that regard) I usually have a pretty bad memory, but there are certain scenes in Seveneves during that apocalypse that I think will stick with me for awhile.

    Small spoiler for Seveneves:
    Specifically, the scene in Notre Dame Cathedral where they have an orchestra playing as the world ends around them. The survivors in the Ark (the upgraded ISS that they survive in) can listen to their radio broadcast of it as the Earth gets bombarded and then the concert abruptly cuts out when the cathedral is destroyed. It's such a haunting visual that's stuck with me, especially as you see it from the perspective of a survivor on the Ark.

    This book falls into a similar category for me so far. I live in Pennsylvania and the events of the novel so far feel so painfully realistic because of how grounded in reality the story is. I'm loving the book so far and it's very well-done, but this part at least is definitely causing me some anxiety.

    Also, I keep forgetting that this takes place in the 50s. I'm used to reading novels that are modern, futuristic, or at least a century or two in the past. Having people fly in airplanes and have TVs, but then having to call on a landline and wait until the circuits aren't busy to get through (and other random tidbits like that) keeps forcibly reminding me of the time period we're in. As I said, I know nothing about the plot of this book (though by the name of the series, I assume we're going to space at some point :p ). :look So for all I know, there could be a 60 year time jump in the next chapter, but it's been interesting so far! :lol
     
  16. Thaddius al'Guy

    Thaddius al'Guy That Guy Aes Sedai Forum Moderator Mafia Admin

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    I’ve only read the synopsis going in so I have an idea myself but I’m eager to see where it goes.
     
  17. Elia LePhant

    Elia LePhant Aes Sedai Historian

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    Yeah it was interesting reading it as an apocalyptic event that actually took place in our past not our present/future. An interesting discussion on how it would change our science and society!

    Also Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel is on my list for soon (ugh I have too many books on my soon list :lol )
     
  18. Kassina Tendar

    Kassina Tendar Aes Sedai

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    I'm on chapter 8 right now.

    Yeah, unfortunately I was right on where this story is heading. :( This is incredibly reminiscent of Seveneves. The cause is just different. Essentially, in Seveneves, there's an impact that breaks up the moon and it slowly starts bombarding the Earth with debris. (and then the bombardment accelerates) But the effect is pretty similar in terms of "The Earth is about to become uninhabitable and we need to get people off this planet and plan for humanity's survival." I guess I need to brace for an emotional ride. :lol
     
  19. Stephen Lightheart

    Stephen Lightheart Aes Sedai

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    Don't brace too hard.
     
  20. Kassina Tendar

    Kassina Tendar Aes Sedai

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    Are we reading about the same number of pages this week? :)