“It’s all about those things NASA doesn’t delve into at press conferences.”
The Daily Beast
“A more realistic view of life in space than we have ever gotten from a NASA broadcast.”
Dallas Morning News
“Roach deftly guides her readers. . . . They never completely lose sight of the accomplishments of space travel, even as they take delight in the absurdities that, in the end, make those successes all the more sublime.”
Christian Science Monitor
“Roach provides a highly readable, often hilarious, guide.”
The New York Times
“[Roach's] 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
“Roach’s strange enthusiasm for all things oddball . . . makes Mars a more than worthy destination.”
Janet Maslin - The New York Times
“[Roach's] style is at its most substantialand most hilariousin the zero-gravity realm that Packing for Mars explores.… As startling as it is funny.”
Geoff Nicholson - San Francisco Chronicle
“This is the kind of smart, smirky stuff that Roach does so well.”
M. G. Lord - The New York Times Book Review
“With an unflinching eye, [Roach] launches readers into the thick of spaceflight’s grossest engineering challenges.”
“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.”
Time Out New York
“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.”
“A truly funny look at the less majestic aspects of the space program.... 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.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“This is the kind of smart, smirky stuff that Roach does so well.” Geoff Nicholson
Popular science writer Mary Roach answers the questions of what it takes to send the human body into outer space—and how much normalcy can be given up in the process to survive there. Her no-holds-barred and lighthearted approach to the serious and mundane aspects of astronaut life makes this well-researched popular science work a hilarious, albeit occasionally gross, read as the ever-curious author delves into the immense efforts it takes to keep people healthy and happy in space.
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Ms. Roach has already written zealously nosy books about corpses (Stiff), copulation (Bonk) and charlatans (Spook). Each time, what has interested her most is the fringe material: exotic footnotes, smart one-liners, bizarre quasi-scientific phenomena. Yet her fluffily lightweight style is at its most substantialand most hilariousin the zero-gravity realm that Packing for Mars explores. Here's why: The topic of astronauts' bodily functions provides as good an excuse to ask rude questions as you'll find on this planet or any other…So Packing for Mars is as startling as it is funny, even if its strategic aim is to tell you more than you need to know.
The New York Times
M. G. Lord
Anyone who thinks astronauts ply a glamorous trade would do well to read Mary Roach's Packing for Mars. The book is an often hilarious, sometimes queasy-making catalog of the strange stuff devised to permit people to survive in an environment for which their bodies are stupendously unsuited…With an unflinching eye for repellent details, she launches readers into the thick of spaceflight's grossest engineering challenges: disposing of human waste, controlling body odor without washing, and containing nausea…
The New York Times Book Review
Roach is America's funniest science writer…in Packing for Mars, she has written a comic survey of space science, with emphasis on the absurd, the bizarre and the gross…Obviously, Roach is not afraid of the icky. In fact, her book is packed with the kind of delightfully disgusting details that brings joy to the hearts of 12-year-old boysand to the 12-year-old boy that lurks inside the average adult male.
The Washington Post
Roach (Stiff) once again proves herself the ideal guide to a parallel universe. Despite all the high-tech science that has resulted in space shuttles and moonwalks, the most crippling hurdles of cosmic travel are our most primordial human qualities: eating, going to the bathroom, having sex and bathing, and not dying in reentry. Readers learn that throwing up in a space helmet could be life-threatening, that Japanese astronaut candidates must fold a thousand origami paper cranes to test perseverance and attention to detail, and that cadavers are gaining popularity over crash dummies when studying landings. Roach's humor and determined curiosity keep the journey lively, and her profiles of former astronauts are especially telling. However, larger questions about the "worth" or potential benefits of space travel remain ostensibly unasked, effectively rendering these wild and well-researched facts to the status of trivia. Previously, Roach engaged in topics everyone could relate to. Unlike having sex or being dead, though, space travel pertains only to a few, leaving the rest of us unsure what it all amounts to. Still, the chance to float in zero gravity, even if only vicariously, can be surprising in what it reveals about us.
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The New York Times Book Review