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Packing for Mars: 06/12/13
Packing for Mars by Mary Roach is a world tour of the history and current state (as of the mid 2000s) of space travel. Each chapter focuses on one element of life in space or the history of space exploration.
The book opens with a scene that will be familiar with fans of the manga series Twin Spica. There's a team of would-be astronauts in a confined space, working on folding paper cranes. The cranes are part of a psychological experiment — and from there Roach explains the different things that Japan looks for in its program.
After the Japanese space program chapter, Roach jumps around the world and through history — apparently picking whatever topic came to mind next. Topics covered include the "vomit comet", animals in orbit, disasters, eating, pooping, vomiting, and so many more.
While I enjoyed Stiff, Packing for Mars seemed to a logical progression from topic to topic. With each chapter also having a rather lengthy introduction as to why this particular topic is either bizarre, disgusting or both — I ended up skimming large portions.