Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Martian

by Andy Weir
320 pgs

Usually, if a book has been made into a movie, I prefer to read the book before seeing the movie. I'd rather run the risk of having the book spoil the movie for me, than vice versa. With Andy Weir's The Martian, I made an exception and ended up seeing the movie before I read the book. Fortunately, I enjoyed both, immensely.

Mark Watney, and the rest of the Ares 3 crew, had been on Mars for six Sols (a Martian day) when a severe dust storm hurls a piece of equipment violently into Mark, nearly killing him. The rest of the crew, unable to find him, and believing him to be dead, are forced by the storm to quickly launch and begin the long voyage back to earth. When Mark regains consciousness hours later, he quickly discovers that he's been left behind, with very limited supplies, and years to go before any help could ever arrive.

It's up to Mark, the botanist on the crew, to find a way to survive on Mars long enough for NASA to plan for and prepare a mission to rescue him. His food supplies will be gone months, if not years, before more supplies can get to Mars, the equipment he has was designed and built to last for the duration of the mission only, and if he's able to overcome those challenges, the planet itself seems determined to kill him.

I enjoyed everything about this book. Mark Watney is a fantastic character. He's determined, resourceful, and his undying sense of humor provided many of the best parts of the book. I was also incredibly impressed with the actual science Weir packed into the story. I labeled the book as "hard science fiction" because of the emphasis Weir gives the science, so much in fact, that I really didn't feel like I was reading a science fiction story. Admittedly, we're still decades away from being able to send manned missions to Mars, but Weir provides so much real science into this story, that it makes it feel like something we're capable of today.

It's been a long time since I enjoyed reading a book as much as I did The Martian. Regardless of whether you saw the movie, you should definitely read the book.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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