Review: All That Outer Space Allows

All That Outer Space AllowsAll That Outer Space Allows by Ian Sales
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

It’s very interesting to be reading this (well, listening as an audiobook) at the same time as The Calculating Stars as both of them tackle women’s issues, the Baby Boomer Era America, and space travel. But whereas I’m really enjoying The Calculating Stars, I really did not like this book.

First complaint – this book often would switch out of the narrative into a meta-narrative that compared the main character to the person she’s replacing in our timeline. I don’t know if that’s meant to be a brilliant strategy since our protagonist is a science fiction writer or if it’s footnotes that were not called out as footnotes, but it REALLY pulled me hard out of the story. And the first couple times it happened I didn’t really get what was going on.

Second complaint – nothing happens in this story. I’ve slowly become more accepting of stories where it’s about the journey and not the destination, but this one just seemed to not really go anywhere or have real growth for the protagonist. That’s probably because she’s a real life person with a couple details changed and real life does not follow narrative structures well.

Third complaint – It almost seems malicious that in this quartet, the two books (the last one and this one) that are about women are not great stories. And this one, in particular seems to stand out when put in this quartet. In other words, were it just a novella I probably would have been fonder of the story. But let’s go over the quartet: First book – a version of the Apollo program where they invented a device that can make people travel between dimensions. The crew is trapped on the moon and needs to find a dimension that has human space travel to go to and get help. Second book – a version of the space program where we went up with a manned mission to Mars and eventually colonies on other planets. Pretty good science fiction that reminds me of the older pulp novels. So far we have alternate universes that are pretty different than ours with exciting stories and twists. Then we get to book 3. It’s our world except when the scientist proves that women would be better astronauts than men, they get to be the astronauts that go to space. But the B plot involves the Bermuda Triangle and there’s never any real resolution and it doesn’t tie to the female plot. Now story four. It’s our world with our Apollo program and the ONLY thing that’s changed is that science fiction is only written by women. WTF? Why couldn’t the women have the exciting plots? And how do the latter two novellas – particularly this one – fit in along with the first two. It’s like being on a Hollywood set. The first part you see is awesome and glamorous, but there’s nothing behind the sets.

One good thing- the narrator was great, especially at conveying emotion.

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