The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal
In 1963, Nicole Wargin is a pilot, the first lady of Kansas, and an astronaut. She also has an eating disorder, and her husband Kenneth may run for president. In this award-winning alternate history series, a meteor strike in the 1950s precipitated the creation of the International Aerospace Coalition, with the goal of creating colonies on the Moon and Mars. Sexism and racism are still very much factors in this version of the 1960s. Nicole gets to fly shuttles on the moon, but doesn’t get to pilot the big rockets. She is sent to the Moon to investigate possible sabotage. There are several small malfunctions, short power outages, a non-fatal poisoning, and an increasing sense of suspense, as there are clearly terrorists on the Moon. Also, there is a polio outbreak on the Moon, and unrest back in Kansas. A complex, relatable character in her fifties, Nicole needs all her skills as a diplomat, investigator, and her experience as an astronaut to save the colony on the Moon. I had the pleasure to attend a virtual author event through a local bookstore, and heard more about the series, which begins with The Calculating Stars. Readalikes include Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly, Seveneves by Neal Stephenson, and the Retrieval Artist series by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, beginning with The Disappeared.