The all-female crew isn’t the only twist; there’s also the fact that the five astronauts steal their spaceship.
The crew aren’t mere bandits, but the spacecraft’s original crew, who’d been shoved aside by a reactionary patriarchy intent on confining women to home and family.
“As a little girl, I thought sexism was on the way out. And in the last few years, I’ve realized, ‘Oh no, it’s definitely not,’” Lam tells in our conversation on New Books in Science Fiction, discussing her motivations to write the book.
When NASA confiscates the spacecraft of Valerie Black, a billionaire entrepreneur who Lam describes as a “cross between Elon Musk and Sigourney Weaver,” Black steals it back. She and her crew “know they’re the best people with the skills and training to find this new planet, which is humanity’s last hope because Earth has only 30 years left of habitability due to climate change,” Lam says.
Lam found inspiration in the unsung women who’ve played a role in the history of spaceflight, including the Mercury 13, a group of women who’d passed the same physiological tests as the seven men of the Mercury project in the late 1950s. “The Mercury 13 really helped me focus the book. … There are all these women who have been influential in space flight, but we still haven’t had a woman on the Moon,” Lam says.