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by Andy Weir
Publisher: Random House/Crown
This book counts for the following Reading Challenges:
MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK
I had not read a science fiction novel for a while, and what a pleasure to get back to it with that gem! The Martian is unique: it is at the edge of the possible actually, and full of fascinating details on what a human mission on Mars could look like, and what can happen when all hell breaks loose…
It will put things in perspective if I tell you first that the author was hired as a computer programmer for a national lab when he was 15. His novel is full of scientific facts, related to astronomy, physics, biology, maths, chemistry, computer sciences, etc., and they seem to be all pretty much accurate. In fact, he even wrote his own software to track constant-thrust trajectories to insert accurate data in the story!
So Andy Weir came up with the plot as he was trying to imagine all the details to prepare a human mission on Mars.
A team of six arrives there for the first time, under the commands of a woman by the way.
Because of a big storm (they are quite nasty up there), they decide to get back in their ship and leave. But Mark Watney does not make it. Unable to find him, the rest of the crew decides to leave anyway, thinking he was killed. But he was just wounded and ends up the only creature there, like a 21st century Robinson Crusoe. He does not have enough food to survive until the next scheduled mission, and the living conditions are closer to hell than Eden. Remember, there’s no water on Mars, nothing grows, and it does not have our Earth air. Even though this guy is super creative and knows how to put to good use all his knowledge in botany and physics, will it be enough for him to survive? You won’t know one way or the other until you read the book to the very end.
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. Yes, there are assholes who just don’t care, but they’re massively outnumbered by the people who do.
Anything can turn against him to the very last minute. That made the suspense quite unbearable! It was even increased for me when his daily log (addressed to its potential readers) in the first person smartly switched from time to time to third person narrator. Each time I told myself, this is it, he’s done.
The pressure is relieved by super funny dialogs, or monologs, as well as hilarious details on our culture as he tries to relax with a few books, music and TV shows saved on flash-drives.
There are A LOT of technical details, absolutely fascinating stuff. Wow, the author did think this whole thing through for sure!
The setting varies between Mars and NASA, as well as another country, I won’t say more. This interaction, as well as the pressure from the medias, also made for extra layers of interest.
At a deeper human level, the book also offers an interesting reflection on the themes of death and solitude: will the inability of communicating with Earth simply drive him insane and kill him? How would you deal with the possibility of dying alone on a far away planet with no humans around you?
VERDICT: Combine a nerdy geeky story with our human survival instinct, so deep in our universal subconscious: that’s The Martian, a super smart science fiction novel with intolerable suspense. The best of its kind.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT
Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.
After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue 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 kill 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. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him? [from Blogging For Books]
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
ANDY WEIR was first hired as a programmer for a national laboratory at age fifteen and has been working as a software engineer ever since. He is also a lifelong space nerd and a devoted hobbyist of subjects like relativistic physics, orbital mechanics, and the history of manned spaceflight. The Martian is his first novel.
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