Friday, 27 May 2016

Review: Earth Bound by Emma Barry and Genevieve Turner

5 stars

I read Star Dust, the first book in the Fly Me To The Moon series, and gave it 4 stars. I also enjoyed the A Midnight Clear novella, but Earth Bound is in a league of its own, exquisitely crafted and with some serious meat on its bones. 

When we were introduced to Eugene Parsons in Star Dust, he was the almost-bad guy, a grumpy engineer with ridiculously high standards, who is constantly butting heads with the astronauts. He's much the same as the hero of Earth Bound, but we're given far more insight into his character and its nuances. 

Parsons hires Dr. Charlie Eason, a computing expert, to work at the American Space Department. She's used to being a woman in a man's world, but Parsons doesn't fit any of Charlie's categories of men: the avuncular patroniser, the fresh groper, the blatant ignorer. Yes, he's grumpy, but he's good at what he does, and he respects Charlie like no one else does. 

Charlie and Parson's affair is introduced in a prologue that takes place several months into the book. I liked that their relationship was established early on, and that the story takes place over a longer-than-usual period, skipping forward here and there. These elements gave Earth Bound an atypical romance plot arc, which made me very keen to see how Charlie and Parson's relationship turned out. 

I was also a sucker for most of the plot points and context: science-y stuff, the transition from manual to 'computer' computing, and the eternal drive to outsource to the private sector. As with the preceding two in the series, Earth Bound also continued to explore the joys of being a woman before second-wave feminism. Charlie had to have great strength of character and the determination to succeed, despite - and because of - her treatment by her parents and colleagues. The other female characters were also meticulously fleshed out and a particular highlight. I am beyond excited for the next one in the series, which appears to be a F/F between a female astronaut - reluctantly brought on board because the Russians have female cosmonauts - and an African-American computer (as in person who computes, not a machine). 

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