This is an interesting book that reveals a lot of trivial but life-critical issues in space travel. Besides, you have to relearn how you eat, how to poo, how to pee, etc in outer space - just like you were a toddler again :0
A good pop-science book to read....Continua
For the first few pages, I was disappointed. Then Mary's humorous presentation of information took hold and I was once again hooked on her subject. It is very scatological. Much of an astronaut's life is relearning how to eat and how to go potty. It's learning how to live in the same clothes for days at a time. It's seeing your bone mass decrease and your muscles begin to atrophy, while at the same time you become temporarily taller since your weight isn't pressing down upon your skeleton. In the book you also find out just how much astronauts are indebted to hundreds of experimental subjects who tested things for them -- equipment, going for weeks without changing clothes, lying in bed for weeks at a time, eating astronaut rations for extended periods of time, and much more. One subject who suffered a torn heart valve, an eye that was "off a little bit", and a lifetime of shoulder pain "expressed neither resentment nor regret and has not pursued a disability claim. 'I am very proud of the fact that I contributed. I like to think that when they went up in the Apollo missions their helmets didn't shatter or anything because I tested them.'" -- so different from many of today's Americans who ask more what the government can do for them than what they can do for America. The book is packed full of information about what it takes to go into space, and the even greater difficulties that will face astronauts going to Mars. It is informative and humorous. Here is an example of Mary's humor in one of her footnotes: "The eNasco dissection specimen section offers ten different skinned cat products, proving that there is, in fact, more than one way."...Continua
In the last few pages of "Packing for Mars," Mary Roach displays a touch of passion in making the case for a manned trip to Mars. Sadly, in the preceding 300+ pages, passion was kept firmly in check in favor of a random set of anecdotes. The anecdotes, by themselves, can be quite good, but I'm left wanting the story that hasn't actually been offered.
Billed as an uproarious trip into the world of space travel, I was hoping to get "In the Shadow of the Moon" with a funny edge. Maybe the reverential Alan Bean meets Mr Bean. PfM is often funny, although not side-splittingly so (my kids were, however, in stitches at a turd floating around the Apollo 10 capsule). As a comedy, though, the author's writing style wears you out with repetition in the form of all-too-frequent overreach; trying to squeeze out one crass metaphor too many just because she could. Good comedy writers know when to pause, Ms Roach does not (Deke's 1-star review is spot-on in describing how the humor reads).
2 stars for some good snippets - many of which the average reader will not have known about previously - in what can only be described as a random collection of anecdotes aimlessly delivered. By the time Ms Roach sets her sights on making the case for a manned Mars shot, we no longer care.
Frequently entertaining, but not a memorable read I'd recommend to others....Continua