Book Review: Everyday Jobs Turn Wondrous in Blue Collar Space

 

What will it be like when humans are living and working in space? Ordinary folk, like those who live down your street? Blue Collar Space by Martin Shoemaker offers one vision. It is a collection of short science fiction stories set on the moon and Mars, and Jupiter orbit.

The settings are exotic. The jobs are ordinary. EMTs, sanitation workers, teachers, doctors, factory workers and miners feature in these stories. A few stories fall into the category of space adventure. “Not Close Enough” deals with a first manned mission to Mars — sort of a first manned mission to Mars. The explorers from NASA, ESA, Roscosmos, JAXA, and space agencies from India, Australia and China are not allowed closer to Mars’ surface than Martian orbit. There is a sort of spy adventure in the short story “Black Orbit,” with smugglers and secret agents.

Yet most deal with life and work of an everyday sort; dirty jobs in a space setting. A rescue team is sent to assist crash survivors in “Scramble.” A young girl must find help for her injured father — on the surface of the moon — in “Father-Daughter Outing.” The complexities of running a sanitation system on a lunar city gets explored in “The Night We Flushed the Old Town.” A children’s survival class instructor on Mars has to figure out how to fix things when something goes wrong in “Snack Break.” A moon prospector grapples with the discovery that starring in a moon-based kiddie show really is significant in “A Sense of Wonder.”

It is not dull. Shoemaker shows the adventure in doing things that on Earth are ordinary when they must be done in a hostile environment like space. Being on a spaceship, a space station, or surface of the moon and Mars changes things. He writes with a crisp and engaging style that draws readers into the tale. The result is fascinating reading.

Blue Collar Space captures what life will really be like when we finally get off Earth and move into space. It will be commonplace, yet at the same time it will be wonder filled.

Blue Collar Space, by Martin Shoemaker, Old Town Books, 2018, 244 pages, $11.99


I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) My review normally appears Wednesdays. When it appears, I post the review here on the following Sunday.

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There are 7 comments.

  1. Member

    Outstanding. Thank you, Seawriter.

    Blue Collar Space is now on the (ever growing, never shrinking enough) reading list.

    • #1
    • July 22, 2018, at 12:38 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  2. Contributor

    Sounds like a great concept — a workaday riff on The Martian (which I just finished reading). And it’s $3 on Kindle — I’m buying it right now.

    Thanks!

     

    • #2
    • July 22, 2018, at 9:59 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  3. Contributor

    I’m going to have to look this one up. I had an idea of writing a series of stories about factory work in Earth Orbit. Never really got that far with it.

    • #3
    • July 23, 2018, at 10:57 AM PDT
    • Like
  4. Member

    I liked the parts of prelude to the foundation that talked about the special bras for the ladies doing the manual labor to keep the sweat to a minimum.

    • #4
    • July 23, 2018, at 6:46 PM PDT
    • Like
  5. Inactive

    I read it and liked it. Shoemaker is a writer to watch.

    • #5
    • July 23, 2018, at 7:37 PM PDT
    • Like
  6. Member

    Anybody else remember space quest 5?

    • #6
    • July 24, 2018, at 4:31 AM PDT
    • Like
  7. Coolidge

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):

    Outstanding. Thank you, Seawriter.

    Blue Collar Space is now on the (ever growing, never shrinking enough) reading list.

    At the current rate I’m going with my reading list I’ll be caught up some time after the heat death of the universe.

    • #7
    • July 24, 2018, at 6:47 PM PDT
    • 2 likes