Friday, July 24, 2015

The Martian

Geeze, what have I been doing for the last month?  Apparently not reading much!

I can't honestly remember when I started reading Andy Weir's The Martian.  I bought it while I was in Minneapolis for 4th Street Fantasy.  And I know I started it not long after that. 

Well, whatever.  It's a month since I finished Fledgling, and I have now finished The Martian, too.

The Martian was recommended to me by someone at work about a year ago.  It's been on my reading list since then.  A few people at 4th Street Fantasy also recommended it to me.  And with the movie coming out this fall, I wanted to make sure I read it before then.

The Martian is the story of Mars astronaut Mark Watney, who is part of the third manned mission to Mars (Ares 3).  Watney finds himself stranded on Mars after his mission abruptly ends due to a Martian super high-wind storm.  The rest of his crew abandons him because they believe he is dead.  But he survives, and has to figure out how to continue surviving, especially since his mission was only supposed to be 30 days long.  He's left alone for several months because everyone on Earth believes he's dead, too (and they don't want to take satellite images of the Ares 3 sight in case his body is visible).

It's a super interesting story as Watney "sciences the shit" out of the Hab in order to survive.  (Sorry, that's a quote from the movie trailer that made me laugh.  He doesn't actually say it in the book).  He even finds a way to get potatoes to grow in the Martian soil.  Eventually he gets back in contact with NASA by recovering the Pathfinder probe and using its radio (his radio was destroyed in the storm, and the backups went with the rest of his crew off of Mars).  The scientists of NASA work around the clock to help him survive and ultimately come up with the plan to get him home again - he has to drive to the site of the future Ares 4 mission and use some of the gear that's already there to rejoin his crew, who end up flying back to Mars specifically to pick him up again.  And all of this happens while all of Earth watches, completely unable to help the crew recover him (during the actual launch and flyby).

But I'm not going to lie, about half way through it, I started to lose interest in The Martian.  I think it was at the point that I realized everything that could go wrong was going to go wrong, but somehow Watney would still survive.  I guess it got a bit boring in its predictability.  Which was a real shame. 

I'm not a super science-literate person, but I was impressed by how accessible Weir made the science in this book.  I also thought Watney was hilarious (and I admit, I did lose interest during the chapters and sections of the book that weren't from Watney's perspective).  So all in all, I did really like the book; I just had a bit of a hard time finishing it once I started to know basically what would happen.

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