Nadia is the expert construction foreperson and is fielding all sorts of questions while the colonists set up Underhill. During one exchange, some other colonists are having trouble getting concrete to set:

A call from the Chernobyl crew interrupted her bulldozing. "Nadia, how do we get concrete this thick to set in the cold?"

"Heat it."

"We are!"

"Heat it more."


I am notoriously bad at understanding emotion in stories, so I can't really tell what is implied here. Is the "Oh!" meant as a "That's a great idea" or a "Oh, we should have thought of that"? Is Nadia frustrated with them or just casually mentioning it (sort of like "turn left here" when you are giving directions to a driver, instead of "NO! Turn left here!")?

  • 1
    Can you provide an exact extract? It's a bit hard to tell from this paraphrase. I have read the book, but don't remember this specific passage. Apr 4, 2022 at 14:51
  • @DanielRoseman It's when they are assembling the nuclear reactor (nicknamed "Chernobyl"), and laying the concrete foundation for it. Apr 4, 2022 at 14:55
  • To be fair, the dialog is a verbatim quote.
    – Michael
    Apr 4, 2022 at 15:00
  • I don't have the book with me, but if I remember I'll edit it this evening. Apr 4, 2022 at 15:19

1 Answer 1


The clue is at the start of that section of text:

And here Nadia came into her own. [...] Almost every job they had benefited from her help, and as she ran around every day answering questions and giving advice, she blossomed into a kind of timeless work heaven.

The discussion about heating the concrete is one of a series of vignettes that illustrate the challenges they face in building on Mars, and how Nadia is the one that finds solutions to the various challenges.

The implication throughout is that she is busy to the point of overwork, but satisfied by that state of affairs - it allows her to demonstrate her skills and be useful.

Someone else may have been able to see the solution - but nobody else would have got it as confidently and readily as Nadia. The punctuation doesn't suggest particular emphasis for any of her pronouncements, suggesting that they are made as simple statements, without indicating frustration with anyone else for not coming up with the same ideas.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.