Book Review: The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal

“I don’t want you stuck on Earth, wishing you were in the stars.”

Mary Robinette Kowal, The Fated Sky

Title: The Fated Sky
Series: Lady Astronaut Universe (Book 2)
Author: Mary Robinette Kowal
Genres: Science Fiction, Alternate History, Historical Fiction
Pages: 384 (Paperback)
Published: August 21st, 2018

My Rating: ★★★★½
Read: 12/4/2022 – 12/9/2022


I don’t know why I let so much time pass between reading The Calculating Stars and The Fated Sky. This series is so immersive and book two was as good as the first.

Now that the moon has been colonized, it’s time to start preparing for Mars. Thanks to her fame as ‘The Lady Astronaut’, Elma is assigned as a crew member on the first Mars flight. The journey isn’t easy. Being away from her home, her husband, and her family for three years is a challenge in and of itself, never mind the number of failures that can occur and the tensions between the crew members from being cooped up for so long. 

The book doesn’t mention the events of the first book in too much detail. It sticks to the continuation of this alternate time in history rather than reflecting. People on earth are beginning to forget about the meteor strike. If not forget, then letting it become commonplace and minimizing the repercussions it will likely have on the future of the earth. The pressure is on, especially when ‘Free-Earthers’ start causing trouble.

Though there are some bits and pieces in the narrative that tend to distract me from the main plot (I’m not entirely sure how to explain it without giving spoilers) and there are some things that feel unsettled or unfinished, I enjoy these books so much. Being set in the mid-20th century it has a nostalgic feel to it while also adding in modern-day elements. The characters are so darling, too. I’d forgotten how attached I’d gotten in the first book. Revisiting them and getting to meet some new ones made me even more invested this time around. I especially liked the dynamic between Elma and Parker this time around. 

Likes & Dislikes:

What I liked:

  • How much of the book was set in space. I know this is a given, but I don’t know. I figured the space travel would be a small portion and the main plot would be centered around Elma actually getting to this point.
  • The historical backdrop with the essence of a more modern space age. We aren’t living on the moon or sending people to Mars (yet). It’s old and new all at once.
  • The characters! Even the antagonists are likable. (For the most part…)
  • Elma and Nathaniel’s relationship. It’s so healthy.

What I didn’t like:

  • Though the discussion of political issues usually work really well for this setting/story, they didn’t flow as well this time as they did in the first book. The issues more often than not arose at random times and weren’t always dealt with. Certain instances grew repetitive as well or were resolved without explanation.
  • I’ll try to elaborate on what I mentioned before about the distractions in the narrative… Elma has a tendency to go way off-subject, yet, it’s still related to the topic at hand? I guess the best spoiler-free example would be moments involving Nathaniel. She could be talking about something technical and then all of a sudden she’s fantasizing about him. I’m not sure if I’m making much sense of it.
  • What happened with Elma’s niece? That side plot dropped off into oblivion.


I need to not put off The Relentless Moon as long as I put off this one. I’m not sure why I did because The Calculating Stars is one I think back on a lot. There’s something almost cozy about the series, although, maybe that stems from my love of space.

Where to buy the book:

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