Ben Oliver

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The Martian

So… I blew myself up.
01 February 2016

Yes I only read the book because I watched the film, feel free to angrily tweet at me that I’m not a real nerd. You can see the review here1. I won’t go on too long about the film adaptation, but safe to say it holds incredibly true to the story.

A man gets abandoned on Mars, thought dead by his crew members. He fights to survive until a rescue attempt can be made.

Weir writes mostly from the point of view of his protagonist, Mark Watney, who uses the computer system he has on Mars to maintain a journal of what he’s up to. It’s a clever way to get us immediately acquainted with the character, and keeps us firmly grounded on Mars.

The Martian keeps us also firmly grounded in reality. Weir has clearly done his homework, and much of what happens in the book is not beyond the realm of possibility in real life. There’s a lot of luck and convenient equipment involved, but then again there’s a lot of that in real space travel too, especially when things start to go wrong.

If I had to pick holes, I’d say that the format does not work to convey the passage of time very well. The logic makes sense - nothing happens for long stretches of time so why write about it - but it’s hard to get a sense of just how long Watney is stuck down there.

Still, Weir has written a great hard sci-fi novel here with a unique tone and some really creative ideas about how something like this might play out. I’ve heard the term ‘Watney-esque’ used a lot since the book came out, which speaks to the realism and tangibility of The Martian. A riveting read.

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