Andy Weir – The Martian

I read this book in record time this weekend just gone. It’s great. The story of a stranded American astronaut on the red planet has been made into a film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon. I would’ve liked to have done a movie versus book type post about this story, but doubt I’ll see the film before it leaves the cinema. If I’m going to the cinema soon it will be for Spectre.

Having Matt Damon play Mark Watney the Robinson Crusoe type character with no Man Friday seems like good casting as he can play action man and funny man in equal measure, and one thing is for sure this book beside all its sci-fi nerdy-ness is really very funny. Watney never falls into funks or contemplates suicide despite his seemingly hopeless situation. He always keeps up a good sense of humour while he is writing his account of the string of setbacks and near-death experiences that befall him. It’s quite an inspirational story on that level.

It’s not all in the first person by the way. After a good introduction to Watney the focus shifts back to Mission Control at Houston and also flits around the Chinese Space Agency (who help out later on) and on board the spacecraft bringing the rest of Watney’s crew home.

The sci-fi is well-grounded and the reader is presented with a lot of calculations that at times you might want to skip through and I’m sure won’t feature in the film adaptation.

Of course life wouldn’t be complete without a couple of gaffs – like if they knew the launcher on the planet’s surface was prone to being tipped over during a storm why did they land one a year early for Watney to try and get to? Surely the same storm would’ve tipped it over like it threatened to tip his crew’s ship at the start of the book? Also the storm would have to be an absolute humdinger beyond the windspeeds of what’s described to cause the damage it does – the reason is explained by Watney during the course of the tale – Mars doesn’t possess a ‘big’ enough atmosphere for it to have that sort of oomph. But there had to be something that (a) made his crew leave, (b) injured him seemingly fatally and (c) took out the comms or there’s no story and these gaffs are not on the same level as Crusoe’s pockets so Weir is forgiven.

The Martian is great story, an enjoyable read, and keeps you turning the pages until the very end. It’s a great testament to all those people at NASA and other Space Agencies who have been through similar situations in real life and with their imagination and intellects dug people out of the brown stuff and got them home safe.

 

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