You and I, we’ve known each other a while (unless you’re new here, in which case, hi! and, uh, prepare for swears ahead), and I think you generally know how I feel about things. So I hope it’s safe to say that you know what I was thinking when I saw the first lines of this book:
“I’m pretty much fucked.
That’s my considered opinion.
If you guessed anything other than “SOLD SOLD SOLD” or at least “…tell me more”, then, well, you should go explore the archives!
If you yourself are thinking “…tell me more”, then read on, because I’m going to oblige!
The Martian, as the name implies, is the story of a dude on Mars. Why is he on Mars? Well, he was part of the third manned mission to Mars, which was going swell until a huge storm blew in, knocked everything around a bunch, and caused the mission to abort. Everybody got back in the capsule except for our hero, Mark Watney, who was knocked out and, according to his malfunctioning equipment, dead. Except, of course, he wasn’t, and now he’s stuck on Mars indefinitely, with only vitamins, water, and a handful of Thanksgiving potatoes to sustain him while he works out a plan to get home.
Are you excited yet? Because I am still super excited, and I have already read this book. In fact, in going back to look up details for this post, I found myself starting to read the book all over again, because, spoiler, I absolutely loved it.
The book is told primarily from Watney’s perspective via his log entries, written partially for himself and partially for whoever might find them in the future and therefore full of technical science-y things (which seem plausible enough and I so don’t care if they’re not) but also full of swears and emotions. Interspersed with the entries are third-person chapters detailing what is happening back on Earth and on the spaceship with the rest of the crew and sometimes what is happening to Watney when he is not writing log entries.
It was, for me, a very tense reading experience because I read it only on my breaks at work and so had to wait hours between entries, usually with something terrible having just happened to Watney, because, you know, stuck on Mars.
Luckily, Watney is a Space MacGyver, and really a lot of my enjoyment of the novel came from imagining this dude on Mars cutting apart millions of dollars of NASA equipment (including Pathfinder!) and duct-taping it back together, or combining hydrogen and oxygen together to make water with some explosive results, all the while explaining how this could totally work (again, don’t care if it couldn’t!). The rest of my enjoyment came from Watney’s personality, which is just the right combination of snarky and serious to match how I think I would feel, were I a super-smart astronaut suddenly given what is likely the rest of my life to explore Mars. I am totally Team Watney.
I loved this book so hard, from beginning all the way through to the exciting ending and even into the less-exciting, wrap-everything-up ending, which is brief enough that we can just pretend it never happened, right? Good. That’s what we’re doing, then. I loved this book from beginning to end, and from the beginning all over again just now. If I don’t just read the whole thing a second time, maybe I’ll go check out the other stories at Weir’s fantastically old-school website, which include Sherlock Holmes AND Doctor Who fanfiction? Uh, ‘scuse me guys, I gotta go. Be back… soon?
Recommendation: For fans of space and potentially totally made-up science and snarky dudes.