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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Holiday Read
Took this book on holiday with me, and it totally hit the spot. Not too technical, but an approachable and fun read that opened up some useful new knowledge for me. Read through it pretty quickly, but really enjoyed learning about all the small bits of science necessary to make living outside of earth's atmosphere a possibility. Read poolside with a drink in hand for...
Published on 22 May 2012 by Daniel

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not funny anymore
I considered myself a bit of a Roach fan. Remember being wide-eyed and laugh-crying through her tragicomic Stiff (The Curious Lives of Cadavers) which was at once humorous and enlightening. That was a decade back. Then four years back, I have fond memories of reading Bonk on everyday tube and bus runs, of showing off the playful evocative book cover+title and the...
Published 2 months ago by coronaurora


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Holiday Read, 22 May 2012
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Daniel (LONDON, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Took this book on holiday with me, and it totally hit the spot. Not too technical, but an approachable and fun read that opened up some useful new knowledge for me. Read through it pretty quickly, but really enjoyed learning about all the small bits of science necessary to make living outside of earth's atmosphere a possibility. Read poolside with a drink in hand for maximum enjoyment.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating read but not one for the faint hearted, 19 Dec 2010
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H. M. Holt "souloftherose" (Tring, Herts) - See all my reviews
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I've heard a lot of good things about all of Mary Roach's books and for my first book by this author I picked Packing for Mars because as a youngster I longed to be an astronaut when I grew up (yes really, I even planned to learn Russian).

Having read Packing for Mars I now think it was a very good thing that I changed my mind! I wanted to be an astronaut because I thought it would be exciting and I would get to discover new worlds (in fact at one point I was determined to try and be the first human on Mars) but from reading this book I've discovered that being an astronaut is 99% boredom, dirt and other excruciatingly embarrassing situations.

For example, Jim Lovell (of Apollo 13 fame) and Frank Borman spent just under 14 days in space in Gemini VII so that NASA could investigate the effects of being in space on humans for 14 days. As Roach tells it the Gemini VII capsule was so cramped that neither astronaut could move much during the time in space and neither could they wash. For 14 days. They weren't even allowed to wipe themselves with a wet cloth. I think Lovell said that this was his most difficult space mission.

And then there's the food, the toilet facilities, the problems of mixed-sex crews. Ugh.

Roach's writing is laugh out loud funny and she certainly doesn't shrink from going into lots of detail about every subject she covers. I enjoyed this book and I am definitely planning to read Roach's other books but I can't imagine reading them back to back. The 'eugh' factor would just be too high.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life and Space, 5 Dec 2010
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Mr. D. Hickey "dkh" (Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This book contains a wealth of information on the nitty gritty of living with zero gravity. Everything from why vets took charge of nutrition in space to the amusing and embarrassingly yucky difficulties of taking calls of nature. It looks at the difficulties of showering, eating, motion sickness, cabin fever the list goes on. Everything you ever wanted to know about life in zero g and believe me a whole lot more. It's serious, it's funny, it's interesting and it's well worth a read. I really don't know where else you could find this stuff out. It's written in a down to earth manner (pun intended) by an author who has obviously, thoroughly investigated the material. I found a few paragraphs detailing the difficulties of practicing one's religion to be particularly hillarious. An interesting subject, an entertaining and informative author, a great read.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mary Roach delivers, as usual, 18 Sep 2010
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Sirbu Mihai (Athens, GA) - See all my reviews
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If you've read any of Mary Roach's previous books and liked them, this is more of her (un)usual look at a topic. It seemed a bit lighter than Bonk and Stiff, but that might be because there wasn't so much historical background here (as opposed to Eros and Thanatos, which go all the way back to the beginning of life). That's why the chapter on looooong-term cohabitation in restricted space will probably stick the most in the reader's memory, while those on animals in space and testing zero-gravity food are interesting, but do not generate as many insights into the life of those forever destined to not go higher than the cruising altitude of a passenger airliner.

Roach documents as well (and first-hand) as she usually does the aspects of life in space, which might lead to a mission to Mars. It's captivating, enlightening and permeated by her enviable sense of humor.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not funny anymore, 18 April 2014
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This review is from: Packing for Mars (Kindle Edition)
I considered myself a bit of a Roach fan. Remember being wide-eyed and laugh-crying through her tragicomic Stiff (The Curious Lives of Cadavers) which was at once humorous and enlightening. That was a decade back. Then four years back, I have fond memories of reading Bonk on everyday tube and bus runs, of showing off the playful evocative book cover+title and the histories of experiments in understanding sexuality which got curiouser and curiouser. I was reserving Packing for Mars as a backup read after ploughing through a stinker recently. But surprisingly, this wasn't the balm I thought it would be.

Maybe it is my sense of humour or maybe Roach has turned too cutesy to be compelling, just found myself struggling after half the book. The scatological curiosities are courageous, but with Roach as the only constant character through tortuously connected chapters teeming with new answers, angles and scientists, the endless bookmarking of every expert quote or interaction with her "witty" quip made it a real slog.

On the upside, the initial chapters did pack a punch. I thoroughly enjoyed the way space station scientists, aeromedical specialists and biomechanical scientists have tried solving the physiological and psychological centrifuge that the human body is thrown into once in space. The way the organs take the hit, the way the tissue responds under influence of zero and excess gravity and the way the sanity of cosmonauts is yoked plus the idiosyncratic environment on these celestial bodies being simulated: all of this makes for great reading until Roach inserts herself like an unwanted joker. If only this was a more serious, straight-talking book. It's a pity as I do admire her kind of curiosity and had been a fan of the levity, which now just strikes as frivolous.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For those interested in space history trivia with drop of science..., 8 Dec 2013
"Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void" by author Mary Roach is an entertaining book which provides look into the history of spaceflight and less pleasant aspects of astronaut life.

It is spiced with humor, made as good mix of facts and rumors, although most interesting book part are authors interviews with people involved in space industry conducted during book writing packed with historical facts but trivia as well. Bok doesn't contain too much of hard science, it's more oriented towards snippets of interesting science information.

Although name of book is referring to Mars travel, there is very little focus on Mars as a human destination, so maybe some of the readers could be disappointed. Instead what book provides is broader look into spaceflight and all the difficulties and obstacles of long duration travel.

The book begins with several interesting chapters centered on the astronauts selection, especially the psychological testing which they are put through. For example, the Japanese space agency tested candidate's patience and consistency by having them fold thousand paper cranes and by analysis of the dirty dishes from their meals.

Following chapters are about gravity, zero-gravity testing and whole chapter devoted to vomit. It's curious I know, but it's very interesting to learn how vomit can be dangerous in space.

Several next chapters are about the guinea pigs launched in space, various animals that have been shot into orbit, including chimps legends which are funny to read although preventing the reader from taking the whole science thing too seriously.

Final chapters are focused on Mars travel, beginning with physiological impacts of long-term flights, space diet ending with funny chapter "Eating your pants".

Although I expected serious science about travel to Mars, including maybe some new technologies, instead I received book lighter on science, heavy on trivia and humor. That doesn't necessary mean that book will disappoint you, because you can really enjoy space industry and history as a platform for the author to be amusing.

I could recommend this book for all those readers interested not only on science facts but interested in space trivia, historical references with drop of science included.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, 21 Aug 2013
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This book is an excellent insight into the life of an astronaut and the possibilities of space travel and living
Will open your eyes
Also very humorous in parts
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it, 25 July 2013
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This review is from: Packing for Mars (Kindle Edition)
A delight, like all of Mary Roach's work! I lost my physical copy lending it to friends ("Here! You gotta read this!") so I picked it up on Kindle. Looks great on my Nexus 7.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant present, 7 July 2013
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I bought this a s a present for someone into popular science. They were thrilled to receive it and the delivery was very prompt.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious and enjoyable read, 11 May 2013
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For space lovers everywhere, this is a really funny book that should be enjoyed. A quick easy read but great all the same.
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