The Martian by Andy Weir (2012)
Fiction | Sci-Fi
“Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.
Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.
After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.
Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.
But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills — and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit — he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?”
pooled ink Review:
“What must it be like?” he pondered. “He’s stuck out there. He thinks he’s totally alone and that we all gave up on him. What kind of effect does that have on a man’s psychology?”
He turned back to Venkat. “I wonder what he’s thinking right now.”
LOG ENTRY: SOL 61
How come Aquaman can control whales? They’re mammals! Makes no sense.
I loved this. Simply fantastic.
Truthfully I saw the movie before reading the book (I’ve watched it several times because it’s incredible) and perhaps that gave the book an edge because I knew I already loved the story. But I was ecstatic to find that Matt Damon’s truly stellar performance didn’t transform Mark Watney, it embodied him. The dry humor that made this sci-fi tale sing is just as present and professionally executed in the book as it was in the movie. I loved it. I’m hooked.
When it comes to straight science fiction I tend to get a bit nervous. While I love sci-fi it can also be very hit-or-miss for me. The Martian however manages to be everything I want sci-fi books to be with its scientific roots, forward thinking, and adrenaline-pumping plot. I loved how it embraced NASA and the “now” and yet it maintained a futuristic feel for me simply because I’m not an astronaut with any inkling of the brain matter behind space travel.
And one of this book’s biggest successes was its ability to embrace the science and explain it without dumbing it down or coming across as condescending. It didn’t overwhelm me with terminology and data but it also kept it real. In this book you get honest chemistry, botany, physics, mechanics, politics, etc. and by some miracle the writing helps you understand it all (assuming you don’t already know it) without sounding like a dull textbook. The Martian is absolutely brilliant and entertaining with a touch of high-brow from beginning to end.
Maybe you’d think that a story with just one character would be dull as hell but NOPE. True eventually NASA figures out that Mark didn’t die after all and then we start getting to switch between chapters set on Mars and chapters set on Earth. But even the chapters of just lonely little Watney trying to survive on Mars are so well written you don’t need any other characters, they’d just hold him back. It’s both a part of the drama and the heart of the story.
If you’re curious about comparisons between the book and the movie adaptation then don’t fret. The movie had some cuts and changes due to a multitude of factors that come into play when taking an entire novel and having to transform it into a visual platform that generally can’t handle surpassing a 2-hour limit. But the story is the same, the characters and their personas are maintained, everything you love is there. So if you loved the book then I highly recommend you watch the movie and vice versa. Andy Weir comes out of left field with his brilliant creation and I am glad of it! It’s a win for science fiction, for self-published authors, and for human ambition both on and off Earth. It doesn’t take big money to create a good book, it only takes a good idea and a bit of talent to see it through.
This book felt so grounded in reality and that feeling of possibility as you witness Mark stretching the achievements of humanity is genius. I loved science class in school but I’m no certified genius so for me I believed every minute of it. Nothing felt outlandish or comical in a bad way. The story takes a crazy never-before situation and it works works works from start to solution, from tragedy to resurrection, and it keeps things fresh, edgy, and witty each page of the way.
The Martian is a standout of science fiction. Brilliant, bold, and badass, it follows one man left behind for dead on Mars who determines to go down swinging as his comrades on Earth watch wide-eyed and shocked. Brilliant minds, gut-wrenching setbacks, and a steady smirk of humor lift the characters off the page into a fresh tale of modern space travel gone wrong.
Purchase here: The Martian
Similar recommended reads: Artemis by Andy Weir, Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff, Red Rising by Pierce Brown
Meet Andy Weir!
ANDY WEIR built a career as a software engineer until the success of his first published novel, THE MARTIAN, allowed him to live out his dream of writing fulltime. He is a lifelong space nerd and a devoted hobbyist of subjects such as relativistic physics, orbital mechanics, and the history of manned spaceflight. He also mixes a mean cocktail. He lives in California.
3 thoughts on “The Martian”
x The Captain
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Like you, I saw the movie (but haven’t read the book yet). It’s still on my to read list, but it’s wonderful to know that the book is just as great as the film was. I saw the movie in the theatre and it was just one of those films that you exit from with a very big smile on your face. Great post ! 😊
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I agree! I knew it looked good but I didn’t expect to enjoy the movie as much as I did. It definitely left me smiling 😄 And thank you!
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