Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first men to walk on the surface of Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first man to die there.
It started with the dust storm that holed his suit and nearly killed him, and that forced his crew to leave him behind, sure he was already dead. Now he’s stranded millions of miles from the nearest human being, with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive–and even if he could get word out, his food would be gone years before a rescue mission 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 get 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. But will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?
Mark Watney is a botanist, mechanical engineer, and one of the astronauts on the Ares program, a human guinea pig, alias Astronaut, sent to Mars. Unfortunately Mars isn’t a very good host. Mars plays dirty. Forget sweetness and light. Instead Mars sends a welcoming dose of Category 5 hurricane winds, which pummels the crews MAV (“Mars Ascent Vehicle”.) The crew make a mad dash for escape. Mark is left behind, with a punctured suit, (no party cocktail stick for poor Mark,) and his crew leave him behind believing him dead. Major guilt trip. Mark Watney becomes one of the first people to walk on hostile Mars but will he be one of the first to die there?
The Martian is told through two voices – Mark, in log form and the scientists at NASA trying their utmost to save him. On the whole this is done extremely well, and I didn’t find the shift in voices a distraction.
The Martian is anything but boring. Though the title of the book is a little misleading. There are no alien beings in the book. Effectively Mark becomes the Martian, an unwilling inhabitant of Mars, an alien, human species trapped on an unforgiving, and intolerant Mars.
The first line of the book reads: “I’m pretty much fucked.”
Mark is in deep shit, deep Martian shit. Mark has to battle hostile territory, looming starvation, a plethora of technical, and communication problems. But Mark doesn’t allow the words, “give up,” in his vocabulary. This guy must have been born with a positive stamp on his head. His catch phrase must be, Eliminate Doubt ……..Lock it out! Forget about the Caution!
I know that some reviewers have criticised this aspect of Mark’s character.
Is he too positive? Shouldn’t he have at least one major melt down? I would counter this by saying that yes, Mark Watney is too positive for your ordinary Joe, but he’s an astronaut, and astronauts are a special breed, heroic in pure essence form. Most of us mere mortals would think twice about getting on a mission to Mars. Mark Watney is believable because his humour illustrates his vulnerable human side. It is this astronaut’s coping mechanism. You know how people respond to stress differently? Some talk more, some less, some speak fast, some tremble, fidget, pee loads, well Mark makes a joke out of his situation, and admits, “I’m pretty much fucked.”
But Mark just wants to LIVE. The desire to live may not be programmed into his astronaut suit but it sure lives within his heart and soul. This is an inspiring tale of trying to overcome all the daunting obstacles to just survive, breathe, eat, sleep, another day. Even if that day is lonely, boring, and full of relentless tasks. When you break it down that’s all that counts. SURVIVAL. He must:
In fact he kind of sees himself as a James Bond kind of hero.
Loved this quote: “Live another Sol would be an awesome name for a James Bond movie.” Except he’d be Q! “ Live Another Sol! (Starring Mark Watney as …. probably Q. I’m no James Bond.)”
I don’t believe this for one moment, I think he has a secret desire to be James Bond, the returning astronaut hero who gets all the girls. Remember it’s a long time since he’s had female company, this guy is just longing to get l….. back to earth! Oops, nearly slipped my PG rating there.
To counterbalance the seriousness and complexity of the science Andy Weir applies it with a huge dollop of humour. Now, I love a chuckle and this book had me quietly giggling along and smiling like a crazy person so many times.
Mark Watney is just so appealing. You can’t help but root for him. Anyone who has to survive on a potato diet, listen to disco, (which he hates), and run out of coffee, and caffeine pills, deserves a big hug. A huge one. Here Mark.
With no creature comforts, and an exceedingly boring diet of potatoes, (I really feel for you), he still has the resourcefulness to survive. And joke about it. Way to go.
I have to admit I shed a tiny tear at the end, I just found the ending so poignant.
The Martian would make a great movie. Can you just imagine the 3-D effects? Oh, and the laughter. I’d go. Any takers? I do believe this is releasing this year, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon, scheduled for release in November 2015.
So whether you’re a total science geek, a space exploration nut, or just a person like me who appreciates a good book, go buy a copy of The Martian. I was lucky to get my copy for Christmas! Thanks to my lovely daughter.
Heck, I can’t believe this is Andy Weir’s debut novel, such an impressive first novel, having won this year’s Goodread’s Choice Award in the Science Fiction category.
No doubts about it, The Martian has to be a full Martian 5 stars. :
More to come:
I found this quote from Andy on Goodreads: “It’s (his next novel) tentatively titled “Zhek”. It’s a more traditional sci-fi novel, not a deeply technical story like The Martian. Zhek has aliens, FTL travel, telepathy, etc.”
Favourite quotes from The Martian:
“If the oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the water reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I’ll just kind of explode. If none of those things happen, I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death. So yeah. I’m fucked.”
“Yes, of course duct tape works in a near-vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped.”
“I can’t wait till I have grandchildren. When I was younger, I had to walk to the rim of a crater. Uphill! In an EVA suit! On Mars, ya little shit! Ya hear me? Mars!”
“Actually, I was the very lowest ranked member of the crew. I would only be “in command” if I were the only remaining person.”
What do you know? I’m in command.”
“It’s true, you know. In space, no one can hear you scream like a little girl.”
But really, they did it because every human being has a basic instinct to help each other out. It might not seem that way sometimes, but it’s true.”
“If a hiker gets lost in the mountains, people will coordinate a search. If a train crashes, people will line up to give blood. If an earthquake levels a city, people all over the world will send emergency supplies. This is so fundamentally human that it’s found in every culture without exception. Yes, there are assholes who just don’t care, but they’re massively outnumbered by the people who do.”
“As usual, I’m working with stuff that was deliberately designed not to burn. But no amount of careful design by NASA can get around a determined arsonist with a tank of pure oxygen.”