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The Martian (Movie Tie-In): A Novel Paperback – August 18, 2015
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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
“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
“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
“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)
“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
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.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
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The main character describes in “layman’s terms” how he fixes or modified systems in a MacGyver-like fashion in order to survive long enough to be rescued. Great popular concept but from one chapter to another, it’s repeated over and over ad nauseum. Naturally, I wanted to hear how this character manages to survive and this narrative voice speaking to the reader initially kept me engaged, but only briefly. Eventually, I realized I wasn’t going to get the backstory. I listened to the main character’s continually snarky, adolescent-like conversations through his journal directed at strangers, never at the people in his life. Grossly unrealistic. If anyone was at risk of death on an unknown planet, they’d write at least one or two log entries to be read by family and friends they left behind. They’d discuss their internal musings beyond the superficial, physical problems to be addressed – at least during their down time. Instead, we get to listen to him tell us how “screwed” he is. But we never get a peek at his inner emotions or learn about the forces motivating him to survive, never get to hear his doubts or regrets. There’s no meaty character development, and we never learn how this horrific experience changes him beyond reinforcing his dislike of 70’s disco. He always comes out ahead and everybody is cheering for him. Not even a hiccup of ongoing internal conflict.
Secondary characters are bland and stereotypical. All his comrades willingly risk their lives to attempt a rescue and everybody is happy and confident and HELLO? –where is the CONFLICT? Even the protagonist, which I assume is Administrator Venkat, never gets to do anything more than wander around anxiously giving an occasional order. Sometimes I’m not even sure why this author presents certain characters – like Mindy Park – because NOTHING happens with them. They don’t become an integral part of the story. We get introduced and then, oops…dropped after a job description.
If you want to read a book outlining someone fixing things over and over again, this book is for you. If you want a real story, skip it. It lacks proper editing, structure and character development and most of all, conflict and resolution beyond superficial physical challenges. This is one of the worst books I’ve read in a long time and it needs a major re-write.
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.
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.
So if you are fan of crude language then this may be a good novel, but if you find it offensive and a signal that the author has not developed the skills to deliver the story without it, then avoid at any price.