Articulated Restraint by Mary Robinette Kowal

Articulated Restraint by Mary Robinette Kowal
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Historical
Length: Short Story (26 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Being a Lady Astronaut means being twice as dedicated, and twice as good as everyone else. And sometimes, handling a test run that has turned deadly serious. Mary Robinette Kowal visits an off-stage incident in her The Calculating Stars series in this brilliant Original “Articulated Restraint.”

If this test run isn’t successful, many innocent people could die. Luckily, Ruby can handle this sort of pressure.
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I was impressed with the author’s close attention to detail. She clearly spent a great deal of time researching the meticulous training that astronauts go through in order to ensure they have every step of a complex process worked out ahead of time. That research shone through in this tale, and it was by far my favorite part of it.

This story could have used more conflict. Despite its short length, I had trouble staying interested in what was happening in it because of how little conflict there was in it. The main character simply didn’t have enough going on in her life to make me worry about what would happen to her next. I needed something else to sustain my interest.

Ruby was a likeable protagonist. She lived in a time and place when women weren’t fully accepted in the space program, so she had to work twice as hard as her male colleagues in order to have any chance at all of being taken seriously. This lead to her making some decisions that I both empathized with and wished she didn’t have to make. I adored the fact that the author acknowledged the sexism Ruby faced in this era and showed how it harmed this character as well as the people around her.

This is part of a series, but it can be read as a standalone work.

If you’ve ever wished you could be an astronaut, Articulated Restraint might be right up your alley.

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