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Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void

4.4 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Brilliance Corporation; Unabridged edition (May 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1469235900
  • ISBN-13: 978-1469235905
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 3.5 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 9,179,796 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Hilarious.

The author 's writing comes across as reportorial, but with a clear sense of humor; even the footnotes are used to both informational and comedic effect. --Time Out New York

[Her] style is at its most substantial and most hilarious in the zero-gravity realm that Packing for Mars explores. As startling as it is funny. --Janet Maslin"

Truly funny.... Roach's writing is supremely accessible, but there's never a moment when you aren't aware of how much research she's done into unexplored reaches of space travel. "

Hilarious. "

This is the kind of smart, smirky stuff that Roach does so well.--Geoff Nicholson

Cool answers to questions about the void you didn t even know you had."

An utterly fascinating account, made all the more entertaining by the author s ever-amused tone."

An impish and adventurous writer with a gleefully inquisitive mind and stand-up comic s timing."

The author s writing comes across as reportorial, but with a clear sense of humor; even the footnotes are used to both informational and comedic effect.--Time Out New York"

A delightful, illuminating grab bag of space-flight curiosities. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

What happens when you vomit during a space walk?

The bestselling author of Stiff explores the irresistibly strange universe of space travel and life without gravity

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Mars is only a theoretical prospect but people have been travelling in space for over five decades so most of the book is about the history of space travel with a nod to future possibilities. The focus is the most unpredictable part of a spaceship: the crew. It should have been more interesting than I found it, although I can see I'm in a minority here. I loved Mary Roach's later book, 'Gulp' about the digestive system, but I found parts of this quite boring. I think she struggled to get access to the really interesting stuff (and people) and sometimes had to stretch what she had. For instance, there is a whole chapter on a rather uneventful simulation in Canada. There are some fascinating sections. I particularly liked the descriptions of what zero-gravity does to the human body but on the whole I didn't find this book very interesting or enjoyable.
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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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