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The Martian Paperback – October 28, 2014
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"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
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“Brilliant…a celebration of human ingenuity [and] the purest example of real-science sci-fi for many years…Utterly compelling.”--Wall Street Journal
“Terrific stuff, a crackling good read that devotees of space travel will devour like candy…succeeds on several levels and for a variety of reasons, not least of which is its surprising plausibility.”—USA Today
“An impressively geeky debut…the technical details keep the story relentlessly precise and the suspense ramped up. And really, how can anyone not root for a regular dude to prove the U-S-A still has the Right Stuff?”--Entertainment Weekly
“Gripping…[features] a hero who can solve almost every problem while still being hilarious. It’s hard not to be swept up in [Weir’s] vision and root for every one of these characters. Grade: A.”—AVClub.com
“Andy Weir delivers with The Martian...a story for readers who enjoy thrillers, science fiction, non-fiction, or flat-out adventure [and] an authentic portrayal of the future of space travel.”--Associated Press
"A gripping tale of survival in space [that] harkens back to the early days of science fiction by masters such as Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke."--San Jose Mercury News
“One of the best thrillers I’ve read in a long time. It feels so real it could almost be nonfiction, and yet it has the narrative drive and power of a rocket launch. This is Apollo 13 times ten.”
--Douglas Preston, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Impact and Blasphemy
“A book I just couldn’t put down! It has the very rare combination of a good, original story, interestingly real characters and fascinating technical accuracy…reads like “MacGyver” meets “Mysterious Island.”
--Astronaut Chris Hadfield, Commander of the International Space Station and author of An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth
"The best book I've read in ages. Clear your schedule before you crack the seal. This story will take your breath away faster than a hull breech. Smart, funny, and white-knuckle intense, The Martian is everything you want from a novel."
--Hugh Howey, New York Times bestselling author of Wool
“The Martian kicked my ass! Weir has crafted a relentlessly entertaining and inventive survival thriller, a MacGyver-trapped-on-Mars tale that feels just as real and harrowing as the true story of Apollo 13.”
—Ernest Cline, New York Times bestselling author of Ready Player One
“Gripping…shapes up like Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe as written by someone brighter.”
--Larry Niven, multiple Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author of the Ringworld series and Lucifer’s Hammer
“Humankind is only as strong as the challenges it faces, and The Martian pits human ingenuity (laced with more humor than you’d expect) against the greatest endeavor of our time — survival on Mars. A great read with an inspiring attention to technical detail and surprising emotional depth. Loved it!"
--Daniel H. Wilson, New York Times bestselling author of Robopocalypse
“The tension simply never lets up, from the first page to the last, and at no point does the believability falter for even a second. You can't shake the feeling that this could all really happen.”
—Patrick Lee, New York Times bestselling author of The Breach and Ghost Country
"Strong, resilent, and gutsy. It's Robinson Crusoe on Mars, 21st century style. Set aside a chunk of free time when you start this one. You're going to need it because you won't want to put it down."
—Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author of The King’s Deception and The Columbus Affair
“An excellent first novel…Weir laces the technical details with enough keen wit to satisfy hard science fiction fan and general reader alike [and] keeps the story escalating to a riveting conclusion.”—Publisher’s Weekly (starred)
"Riveting...a tightly constructed and completely believable story of a man's ingenuity and strength in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds."--Booklist
“Sharp, funny and thrilling, with just the right amount of geekery…Weir displays a virtuosic ability to write about highly technical situations without leaving readers far behind. The result is a story that is as plausible as it is compelling.”—Kirkus
"Weir combines the heart-stopping with the humorous in this brilliant debut novel...by placing a nail-biting life-and-death situation on Mars and adding a snarky and wise-cracking nerdy hero, Weir has created the perfect mix of action and space adventure."--Library Journal (starred)
“A perfect novel in almost every way, The Martian may already have my vote for best book of 2014.”—Crimespree Magazine
“A page-turning thriller…this survival tale with a high-tech twist will pull you right in.”—Suspense Magazine
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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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.
For some reason I thought the Matt Damon movie was coming out next year, but as soon as I heard it was THIS October, this rocketed to the top of my To Read pile (get it?).
I'm sure the movie will disappoint (they almost always do; that's why I usually try to watch a movie to enjoy it first and THEN read the book so I can enjoy both), but I don't care because the book was amazing. Loved every minute of it.
It's set in the near future after NASA has already sent two manned Ares missions to Mars. Mark Watney is part of Ares 3, but their mission gets cut short after less than a week thanks to a huge dust storm that forces them to abort and evacuate immediately. During their escape, a piece of antenna impales Mark directly through his bio-monitor and the entire crew assumes him dead. Luckily for Mark, the puncture wound wasn't too serious and his space suit never decompressed. Unluckily for Mark, the crew continued with their planned evac after not finding his body & seeing his flat bio-readings, taking all comm systems with them.
Watney is stuck on Mars with enough provisions to last six people about a month (or one person about six months). The next planned mission to Mars is 4 years away so Watney has to rely on his botany background to somehow grow food on the desolate red planet.
A series of unfortunate events occur, and the storytelling by Andy Weir is just fantastic. There's a short essay written by Weir in the end of the e-book that talks about how he chose to create problems from Watney's solutions. As I read the book, I kept expecting the worst to happen and was surprised when he didn't have a meteor land on top of him as he became a new crater! It was nice to read how Weir specifically avoided giving Watney the worst luck possible and tried to stick to more real life problems.
The Martian starts off as a simple first-person narrative in the form of Mark's journal entries. The first lines:
LOG ENTRY: SOL 6
I'm pretty much f***ed.
That's my considered opinion.
immediately drew me in. Watney is intelligent, charming, inventive, and hilarious! His diary entries often go day by day with a good mix of science, math, suspense and jokes. Another great journal entry [after Watney realizes everything he writes will be broadcast all over the world (if he's saved)] is, "Look! A pair of boobs! -> (.Y.)"
Without getting too spoilery, the novel does switch from first person journal entry narrative to third-person authorial narrative as we see how the guys at NASA & JPL deal with finding out Watney didn't die on Sol 6 and how his Ares 3 crewmates deal with the fact he's still alive. The story transitions from day to day journal entries to entries & narration that span weeks or months, but the suspense never really lets up. Watney almost dies like a dozen times but he's always cheerful/humble as he attempts to stay alive ("Mars and my stupidity keep trying to kill me"). Back on Earth, dozens of scientists band together to spend millions (if not billions) of dollars to save one man and eventually the whole planet watches their televisions as everything draws to an exciting conclusion.
Can't lie—near the end I got a little misty-eyed. And I laughed out loud several times throughout. I think Ridley Scott (director of Alien) is going to do great with this. Can't wait to see Matt Damon use his funny bone as Watney. The whole cast (Mara, Wiig, Chastain, Bean, Ejiofor, Daniels, Peña, Glover, et al) looks great. I really want to just read the book again since the movie isn't coming out for another month...