I'm a sci-fi writer and reader, although, let's be honest - I'll read just about anything that moves me, regardless of the genre.
Recommended to me by a friend, I bought this book for my dad for Christmas then stole it from him afterwards. Good move on my part.
Roach's main question in this book, is how do we get people into space. Robots are easy comparatively. After all, robots don't need to eat, use the bathroom, they don't get sick, they don't have to shower...
Roach gets into the less famous, but no less important, aspects of space. What I found really interesting is that when human/animal space travel started, human kind really had no idea how a body would act in space. Would it explode, go blind, be unable to swallow? People had no clue what the lack of gravity would do to not only the human physiology but also to the human psyche. Would people just go crazy?
I also found it interesting how the most mundane things on Earth turn into incredibly complex systems and puzzles in space. Wait until you get to the chapters about showering and using the bathroom...
My only critical comment about this book is that I would have liked more information on women in space. Early on people didn't want to deal with putting women into space for a variety of reasons (both cultural and physiological) but Roach makes the point that women are far more economic to send into space - they're smaller, eat less, require less materials, and can withstand G forces better then men (for re-entry) but she never gets into when women (US) started traveling off planet. I was waiting for that section the entire book and was sorely disappointed when it never came.
Overall, this was a very good book though. I learned a lot and recommend it to others.