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342 of 362 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Abandoned on Mars
A futuristic Robinson Crusoe! Due to a dust storm, Mark Watney is left for dead in the Acidalia region of Mars when the Ares 3 mission is aborted 6 days into the scheduled two months. What follows is largely a logbook of living in a large tent or a small rover for about 550 days on what was supposed to be two month's rations for 6 people. Fortunately there were some...
Published 23 months ago by Ian J. Miller

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87 of 96 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Inventive, humorous, tedious
This is in some ways a delightful book. It's incredibly detailed in its technical aspects, and the inventiveness of the hero is quite wonderful to watch. There's a continual vein of sardonic humor running through, and a nice sense of suspense at the cascading disasters that occur.

That said, this is a nerd's book. It is driven almost entirely by the mastery...
Published 19 months ago by M. Milligan


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342 of 362 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Abandoned on Mars, October 23, 2012
By 
Ian J. Miller (Lower Hutt, New Zealand) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Martian (Kindle Edition)
A futuristic Robinson Crusoe! Due to a dust storm, Mark Watney is left for dead in the Acidalia region of Mars when the Ares 3 mission is aborted 6 days into the scheduled two months. What follows is largely a logbook of living in a large tent or a small rover for about 550 days on what was supposed to be two month's rations for 6 people. Fortunately there were some potatoes for thanksgiving that were alive, so Mark starts dividing them and growing them. But first he has to make soil, and then water, and so on. Generally speaking, a logbook is a poor technique, but here it is brilliant. You cannot have conversation, and you cannot develop other characters, but did I mention he was abandoned? Alone? You might still think that 550 days stuck in a tent or rover could get boring, but no, this book is absolutely gripping.

Watney was resourceful, and the book is very good at showing the scientific approach to problems, putting numbers to them, and showing what happens if you do what, so in a sense it is also a book of puzzles: this has gone wrong, how can it be fixed? Tension is maintained well because Watney has an unseen companion: Murphy. If it can go wrong, it does, sometimes because of Watney's own lack of knowledge. To make water, first he makes hydrogen. This is not a good idea, and Watney finds out why. Because I have also written a book centred on Mars, I know the author has really spent a lot of time understanding the nature of Mars, and this book shows quite well what being on the surface of Mars would be like. There is the odd error, probably intentional for effect, for example the effects of the dust storm are too great. Martian winds can hit up to 200 k/h, but gas pressures are about 1% of Earth's, so, after correcting for the lower gravitational acceleration and the mass of dust, the forces will still be only a few percent of those of comparable wind velocities on Earth. That, however, is forgiven, because if the author were strictly correct on this, then there would be no story.

To summarize, this is a surprisingly gripping story of survival against all the odds, and I strongly recommend it.

Ian Miller, author of Red Gold.
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120 of 128 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who needs nail clippers?, January 7, 2013
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This review is from: The Martian (Kindle Edition)
"I'm stranded on Mars. I have no way to communicate with Hermes or Earth. Everyone thinks I'm dead. I'm in a Hab designed to last 31 days. If the Oxygenator breaks down, I'll suffocate. If the Water Reclaimer breaks down, I'll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I'll just kind of explode. If none of those things happen, I'll eventually run out of food and starve to death. So yeah. I'm f----d." - Mark Watney

As the two-hundred thirty-fourth reader to review THE MARTIAN by Andy Weir, I have no illusion that I can add anything substantive to the plaudits already heaped on this intelligent work of space sci-fi. Simply put, it's a nail-biter that'll trim your finger nail plates down even with the nail beds.

My reading tastes usually don't encompass space fiction because the vast majority of it seems to fall within the realm of extreme fantasy with worlds and ETs of the most fantastical sorts. I prefer my off-Earth stories to have some plausible connection with realistic, albeit extrapolated, technology and situations, and the one book that remains embedded in my memory as simply terrific is from all the way back in 1975 when I was much younger and perhaps more impressionable - Arthur C. Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama. With films, I'm the same way; Outland and Silent Running come to mind. THE MARTIAN is my kind of SF.

In Mars mission engineer-botanist Mark Watney we have a thinking man's hero for the ages, and THE MARTIAN is a story that cries out to be serialized for television.

THE MARTIAN would be ideal for a lengthy trans-ocean plane flight. If you start the book on take-off, you'll likely finish on landing and not even be aware of the hours that passed or the screaming kid a couple of rows back.

You owe yourself this novel. Trust me.
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190 of 206 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Story, September 28, 2012
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This review is from: The Martian (Kindle Edition)
Follow the adventure of an astronaut as he tries to survive being left on Mars.
During a mission abort of the Ares 3 Mars landing, astronaut Mark Watney is thought dead as the rest of the crew does an emergency evacuation from the surface of Mars. Follow Mark as he fights to survive on a planet that really doesn't like living things.
The author, Andy Weir, wrote this over a long period of time in a serial format and I waited patiently for every chapter. Now that it is complete it is even better. Thank you Andy.
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121 of 131 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 4.7573214851 Stars, January 25, 2013
By 
Bob "seabgb" (Midcoast Maine) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Martian (Kindle Edition)
I'm a hard-science science fiction fan and would rather read hard sc-fi than almost anything. I love stories and movies about Mars, and I'm a fan of survival, castaway, and man-against-the elements stories. I loved Robinson Crusoe, so it should not surprise you that I loved the movie, Robinson Crusoe on Mars. I realize it's not Academy Award material, but to me, it's everything I want it to be, as was this book, The Martian.

The main character, Watney, presumed dead, is accidentally left by his crew mates when an intense Martian dust storm forces them to abort their mission. What follows for part of the book is a logbook style narrative that describes in great technical detail Watney's efforts to extend his life until the next scheduled mission arrives in 4 years. After reading just the first 20% of the book (my Kindle has no page numbers) one can't help but be impressed by the author's depth of knowledge in this regard. In fact, the entire book is an astronaut's primer on extraterrestrial and deep space survival and rescue.

The Martian isn't without its typos and editorial glitches, and I'm not sure if this was a result of a bad Kindle conversion or just a shortsighted editor. For me, though, typos and editing issues paled in comparison to the snowballing storyline, which I gladly admit is not for everyone.

This is not a touchy-feely book about love, romance or relationships. There is no overpowering angle between characters. No good guys in white hats and bad guys in black hats. There's no room for cliches. It's all very business like and scientific. So, if you're looking for Twilight in Space. Or Fifty Shades of Mars. Or Tom Hanks making himself a friend by drawing a face on a soccer ball, you'll probably want to skip this one. This book is simply about the mission, and the cold reality of working hard to turn a wrong into a right.

Another thing you won't find in this book is a lot of heartfelt reminiscing or reflection. There are no flashbacks of our main character fishing with Dad at the old water hole, or him riding his first bicycle without training wheels. This is a book about a guy with a keen intellect surviving on a hostile planet and doing so by making the most out of a given set of resources.

About a third of the way through the book, the author adds third person narratives from mission control and the Hermes space craft, the latter manned by the crew that left our hero behind -- and make no mistake, hero is the operative word. Again, we don't follow our mission control cast of characters back too their respective homes and meet their wives and husbands and get served up cliche insights into their innermost thoughts. Blech! I hate those stories! Which doesn't mean these characters are cookie cutter or superficial. On the contrary, I found the characters sufficiently individuated and interesting.

I highly recommend this book to people who are into reading hard sci-fi of the not-too-distant future, sci-fi without blasters and ray guns or 9' tall aliens that bleed acid. (Btw, I like those stories, too, but good ones are hard to find.)

Somebody did their homework on this one -- and that's what stands out above all else.
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87 of 96 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Inventive, humorous, tedious, January 27, 2013
By 
M. Milligan (Bainbridge Island, WA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: The Martian (Kindle Edition)
This is in some ways a delightful book. It's incredibly detailed in its technical aspects, and the inventiveness of the hero is quite wonderful to watch. There's a continual vein of sardonic humor running through, and a nice sense of suspense at the cascading disasters that occur.

That said, this is a nerd's book. It is driven almost entirely by the mastery of technical details, which are set forth more like engineering term papers (wait, were there even papers in Engineering? I was an English major...) than story narrative. There is a modicum of fairly one-dimensional characterization layered on top of it, and a plot that consists of an almost predictable chain of catastrophes. It fits a small niche of technically-driven science fiction but lacks any of the breadth and depth of much of the genre.

I'm fascinated by the mass of 5-star reviews, given that (a) this is a book that appeals primarily to our technical side and (b) sic-fi reviewers are by and large a pretty critical lot. Interesting.
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74 of 82 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, September 29, 2012
This review is from: The Martian (Kindle Edition)
A fascinating story that was able to keep my attention while it was being serialized. Funny, suspenseful, with a very particular attention to detail. Very science-oriented, although being a layman, I can't say that it's 100% accurate. But it was certainly a fun ride.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard Sci-Fi For The Win!, November 2, 2012
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This review is from: The Martian (Kindle Edition)
I can't even begin to say how much I liked this book. I buy a lot of indie sci-fi from the Kindle Store, and most of it is poorly edited and utterly bereft of anything remotely approaching a plot. I came across this I don't know how, and figured "well, 99 cents, I can't really lose." This is quite possibly my new favorite sci-fi book of all time. It is written in the style of George Alec Effinger's Budayeen books, with an irreverent 1st person style, occasionally dropping in to 3rd person for various scenes. As thick with the info-dump as a Neal Stephenson novel, but without the massive digressions. There's a hero, he overcomes obstacles (to put it mildly), and an exciting finish. Well written, well edited, fast-paced. All in all, if there were like 500 stars to click, I'd click 'em.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Robinson Crusoe on Mars: Hard SciFi at its best!, January 23, 2013
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This review is from: The Martian (Kindle Edition)
Self published books on Amazon are often a crap-shoot. You read through piles of drek that should never have been published in hope of finding one good book.

This is that book. It is, by far, the best Hard Science Fiction book I've read in years. In The Martian, Astronaut Mark Watney is accidentally left for dead by his crewmates during a fierce storm. Marooned on Mars, he has to use his intelligence and wit to survive and wait for a rescue ship, which at best would be over a year away. The majority of the book is in a 'Log' format, with the main character chronicling what happened during each day. Periodically the book cuts from the logbook format to a traditional narrative for the supporting characters in space and on Earth.

This is very difficult format to write, but the author manages to pull it off masterfully. As the main character recounts his triumphs and tragedies you can't help but be dragged into his struggle against the unforgiving Martian environment. I never thought it would be possible to be kept up past my bedtime by story that involved a man trying to grow potatoes inside an inflatable tent. The tension and drama are interspersed, where appropriate, by humor and wit. A good example is when Mark realizes that by growing potatoes he has met the requirements for colonizing Mars ("Take that, Niel Armstrong!").

The author did his homework and it shows. The science is top notch and well researched. The only obvious scientific inaccuracy I found was that the effects of a Martian storm were stronger than they are in real life by an order of magnitude. This is acceptable as without the storm, Mark would not have been abandoned and the story couldn't happen. The author manages to describe exceptionally complex engineering and chemical processes in a way that is both entertaining and understandable to the layman.

Andy Weir managed to masterfully capture the spirit of NASA during its glory days, when there was no obstacle that could not be solved by an engineer with a slid rule, roll of duct tape, and a dash of creativity.

I bought the Kindle edition, but I hope someday it will be released in paper form. The hard cover has a place on my bookshelf next to Heinlein, Clarke, and Asimov.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW! - A great read! Well researched, well structured! WOW!, January 2, 2013
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This review is from: The Martian (Kindle Edition)
I purchased this book based on the reviews. I am a streaky reader. I'll read a bunch of Sci-Fi and then move to historical drama and then to Biographies and then to baseball. I've read and loved all of the Wool series and am eagerly awaiting Third Shift. This book jumped out at me and I bought it figuring it would be a nice little read until something jumped out at me. I had just finished Pillars of the Earth and needed a break so I jumped into my Sci-Fi mode. This book was not a nice little break, it was a tremendous read and now I've added Mr. Weir to my must read list.

I was believing that the author must have been an astronaut prior to becoming an author with the detail he put behind the technology and strategies of a Mars landing, life on Mars, the return trip and all of the trials and tribulations that the main character faces in his time alone on Mars. This may scare some people away, but don't the detail is what is needed. He vividly describes the problem, why it happened and then steers the character through a very viable and believable solution. An average author could not have pulled this book off to the degree that Mr. Weir did.

The bouncing around between the daily (SOL) log book and the characters on Earth who are working out solutions to help bring the main character back home are done very smoothly. The prospect of reading a log book gave me reservation. The entries in the log book were thorough, filled with sarcasm, humor and spirit. It would exactly be how I would have approached entries in my log book had I been stranded on Mars. With no one to talk with, the absurdity of my situation and in the remote hopes that someone would actually read this log book someday, you wouldn't pull any punches.

A strong 5 star rating for this book. For those of you who complain about grammar, spelling or punctuation errors in an e-book, get over it. Look past these issues and appreciate the genius of this writer and be thankful that at $0.99, you can read high quality material such as, "The Martian"

I'll be reading more Mr. Weir. Keep up the great work!
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great details but thin on character, February 14, 2014
By 
Scott Kennedy (Chicago, IL United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Highly readable as a sort of extended McGyver episode. While I found the characterization of this book weak and the narrator at times annoying, I still found it compulsively readable as a detailed "What if" scenario. It takes being stranded seriously, and applies the science of the situation rigorously. And science is really what makes this book stand out. It can make you love science again, for at its most basic it is applied ingenuity, and this book is full of that. The main character here really isn't Mark Whatney, stranded astronaut. The main character is science.

I would give the book a much higher rating if it weren't for the first person Mark Whatney sections, where I think the writer's inexperience shows. The tone of voice there as narrated by Whatney seem much more filled with the writer's enthusiasm for his ideas than the astronaut's. I just never bought the astronaut's tone of voice, which remained unchanging throughout his long ordeal. I actually think the whole book would have been stronger in third person voice, because I often found myself wondering why Whatney would be writing in this way.

However, I gladly overlooked all that in order to experience a relatively realistic space scenario, that replaces standard action movie clichés with the rigorous safety protocols a trained engineer would use in such a situation. As a licensed scuba diver and the son of a pilot, the constant safety steps really rang true to me.

And if you've got a kid anywhere near you at all interested in science, please do give them a copy of this book (but be warned -- the book does contain swearing).
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The Martian: A Novel
The Martian: A Novel by Andy Weir (Hardcover - February 11, 2014)
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