Synopsis: 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?
Title: The Martian
Author: Andy Weird
Publisher: Broadway books
Pub Date: 11 February 2014
As with all bookish things, I’m a little late to the party. I bought The Martian after the film came out and, six months later, I still hadn’t read it.
I hesitated for a number of reasons. First, it’s categorised as a sci-fi – specifically space-related – and there are very few books of that genre that I approve of. Secondly, it was hugely hyped up. There’s nothing worse than having your bookish hopes raised only to have them dashed when you realise the book was a fad.
However, I really wanted to watch the film this weekend and was adamant that I would read the book first. So I managed to pick the book out of my ‘TBR jar’ – and by picked I mean went through 20 different pieces of paper until I found it.
Turns out that The Martian joins the list of sci-fi’s I do approve of – it might even be top of the list (but that’s only because I can’t think of any other titles right now). Thrilling and fast-paced, I held my breath each time Watney faced a new challenge.
And I laughed. I laughed on numerous occasions. Watney’s humour was snort on the train kind of funny. I realise people will disagree, it was pretty terrible, obvious and childish. I don’t care. I thoroughly enjoyed our protagonist’s monologues. I only wish he were a real person – I’d definitely make him my new drinking buddy.
[12:04] JPL: We’ll get botanists in to ask detailed questions and double-check your work. Your life is at stake, so we want to be sure. Also, please watch your language. Everything you type is being broadcast live all over the world.
[12:15] WATNEY: Look! A pair of boobs! -> (.Y.)
As for the science, I loved it. I realise I’m going against the norm here, but I enjoyed reading it and didn’t think it was too much. Yes. Some of it is pretty tenuous (rocketing someone into orbit with nothing but canvas as a window?!), but I didn’t mind. It’s a fiction, and if I can accept spells, potions, wizards and owls acting as postmen, I think I can accept a technically incorrect fiction.
“Problem is (follow me closely here, the science is pretty complicated), if I cut a hole in the Hab, the air won’t stay inside anymore.”
I’ve knocked off a star for the typical Hollywood ending. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad everything worked out the way it did but, though it was a lovely passage, it just didn’t need the random thoughtful monologue about how great humanity is at the end.
The Martian is a novel that makes Robinson Crusoe’s adventures look like a walk in the park. Thrilling, compelling and a very fast read – this has made it to my ‘will keep on my bookshelf forever’ pile.