Sign in to follow this  

The Martian by Andy Weir - MacGuyver is a Cast Away, in space!

Recommended Posts



Today's launch of the Orion spacecraft seems like a good opportunity to talk about this book. For those who don't know - it is set shortly into the future after the third manned-mission to Mars goes horribly wrong when a team of astronauts must abort the mission and leave behind a crew member who is presumed to be mortally wounded in a sandstorm. Trouble is, he survived. Stranded on Mars, Mark Watney must use his technical skills in engineering and botany to extend what was originally a 30-day mission to last for years before he has any chance of rescue.


This book is an extremely well researched hard science-fiction triller that impressed me with how much commitment it had to its science and did not compromise it for cheap dramatics. However it had just enough humility and sense of humour to not make readers feel out of their depth with the concepts. Many people have compared it to a mix of Cast Away and Apollo 13, and as such I visualised the main character as basically being Tom Hanks.


I really liked this book. It heralds a degree of scientific literacy such as Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke that is rare to find in fiction. It also avoids falling into blind scientism since it is very respectful of the limits of Man as it confronts the overwhelming indifference of the Universe. This is especially impressive since as far as I know the author has no scientific background.


Some problems I had with it were it pushed a bit too hard with the humour at times. The book is mostly told in the form of first-person journal entries from Mark Watney - who while a very talented and professional scientist - he tends to respond to stress with dry black humour. This is great most of the time to provide comedic relief from the tension and to condense complex scientific principles into simple analogies. However I think it came at a slight expense of some interesting introspective character moments that were too few and far between. This does not reach too far in trying to be a dark dramatic character study like Gravity or Interstellar (which I am truly grateful for because it was handled poorly in both those movies) but it does come off as a bit too flippant at times and the first-person window you get into his experience feels a little bit wasted.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Glad to find someone else had started a post, my introspection on the book isnt nearly as articulate.  However, i certainly second this recommendation - interesting story in a semi plausible scenario that could be reality in our lifetimes.


i got the audio book free from audible,  This was my first longer audio book and found it to be very enjoyable.  The reader (as i presume is with most audible readers) kept a great pace, edited clearly, and only some minorly annoying voices - i get it, but dont need to do an indian accent for the director.  It runs for nearly 11hrs and i couldnt turn it off (started yesterday afternoon)


I agree the humor is a little forced, but when imagining myself in a similar situation - if i didnt off myself in the first week - the requirement of humor and sanity would be overwhelming.  I agree though, the author could have used the extreme isolation for such lengths of time to explore some interesting psyche manifestations - instead the guy seemed to just be generally fine with his predicament, do some interesting math to live in a place with no food, and then just keep on keeping on.  I get restless binge watching house of cards - if that was alone every day for months with no human contact and no chance of rescue it'd be time for rope and sturdy strut.


The science in the story is all generally very plausible and solutions are realistic, risky, and make for some moderately suspenseful events.  It is going to make a decent movie, I hope they let Matt explore a little more of the solitary confinement insanity that is missing in the book.  


I think Sam Rockwell handled that pretty well in Moon.  The guy is stuck on that base for 3yrs with "contact" with the outside world and still starts to come unhinged

granted he is a clone and is designed to disintegrate

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this