Frank Sietzen, Jr.: For most of us spacers human spaceflight is nothing to, well, joke about. After all, riding rockets into the cosmos is serious business, and there's nothing that NASA or we do better than take ourselves seriously - perhaps too seriously. In the last 30 years or so, only Tom Wolfe's "The Right Stuff" gave us permission to laugh out loud when contemplating some of the inconveniences of spaceflight. Until now, that is.
Mary Roach, one of America's most successful and prolific science writers, has made an art form out of picking a little known or understood area of science and doing some first-person research. In her "Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers", she tells us more than we'd ever wish to know about what happens to our bodies after we croak. In "Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife" she gives us a window on ghosts, spooks, and what many believe follows death. In "Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex" she throws herself into deconstructing the sexual impulse, visiting the top sex researchers in the world's universities and laboratories, while enlisting some front-line help from her long-suffering husband, no less.
In "Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void" Roach gives the same in-depth treatment to global preparations for long duration human spaceflight.