book review: rocket girls

I did not like Housuke Nojiri’s Rocket Girls. It’s a science fiction story about a teenager who goes to the Solomon Islands looking for her father and gets co-opted into a space program because she’s small enough to need less thrust on the rockets they’re trying to launch into space in the next 6 months or the plug will be pulled on the project. It is so fucking stupid.

It seems that Nojiri wanted to write a cool vaguely realistic story about low earth orbit. He probably did a bunch of research on rockets and Mir. But the situation is so stupid. Yukari finds her father on the island and he’s been made chief of an islander band that cheers for explosions of the rockets as fireworks. He has another daughter almost the same size as Yukari. Who can then be her backup on the mission! And if she goes through with the training he’ll come back to Japan with Yukari and get back with her mother and they’ll all live a normal life!

There’s also sketchy bullshit about the islanders cursing the rockets, and a plan Yukari has to get Chinese food delivered so she’ll be too heavy to go on the rocket, media people bursting into her room in the middle of the night for interviews, and gay Russian cosmonauts who accidentally destroy Mir (that was a spoiler).

It’s ridiculous enough that if it was written with a sense of humour, it could be pretty fun. But it’s trying so hard to make us take this seriously, it’s just aggravating. I wonder if it’s a translation issue.

Anyway, I cannot suggest this book unless it’s to someone really into orbital dynamics. Even then the unrealistic mad scientists and complete motiveless changes of character will probably get in the way of any enjoyment.

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