The Martian is a stellar read (Book Review)
Written by Andy Weir
Published by Crown Publishing Group.
The Martian follows the story of Mark Watney, an astronaut on NASA’s third mission to Mars. He is the missions botanist and mechanical engineer. The book opens up with what could be the greatest opening line: “LOG ENTRY: SOL 6 I’m pretty much fucked. That’s my considered opinion. Fucked.” After that, I was hooked.
Mark Watney has just been unintentionally stranded on Mars thanks to a larger than usual storm. NASA, for safety reasons, aborted the mission. In the process, Watney is injured by debris and left for dead by the rest of his team. Watney wakes up alone on Mars, makes his way back to the “HAB”, and gets to work on surviving. Most of the story on Mars is told from the perspective of Watney’s mission log, while the stories on Earth and the “MAV” with the rest of the crew are told from the third person perspective. Watney is at times vulgar, and sometimes downright panicked, but through it all shines a quirky, humorous, and generally positive personality. He breaks things down and attacks each problem in a believable and logical fashion.
I decided to read this book after both Leo Laporte of the TWiT.tv network and formerly TechTV, and Adam Savage of the Mythbusters and Tested.com recommended this book to their podcast listeners. Once I started reading it, I could not put it down. The author, Andy Weir, who was originally a software engineer with no ties to NASA or the space industry, manages to create tension, suspense, and drama. He originally self-published this book on his blog website, one chapter at a time. For each chapter, he would exhaustively research everything he could. Once he put it on his website, he would then solicit comments from the reader, in effect, crowd-sourcing the editing process. The effect is an amazingly scientifically accurate and believable science fiction story. None of the technologies used in the book are unbelievable or outside of reach in modern society. In fact, I would say I no more than about 30 years away.
I read this book in two days, thanks to having to work… Once I finished I looked at my wife and told her that our marriage depended on her also reading this book. She read it, and thanked me for making her read it. I spent a month telling everyone at work, and my friends that they needed to read this book. I even bought the audio book and listened to it straight through. My only major complaint is that Andy Weir hasn’t had another book published yet.
This book has been made into a movie, which is set to release October 2nd, 2015. Ridley Scott is directing, and Matt Damon is starring as Mark Watney. Honestly, I can’t imagine anyone better for the role. I look forward to watching the movie, and hopefully writing up a little review about it too.
Check out the trailer for the movie adaptation below! I recommend reading the book first though.