- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 10 hours and 53 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Podium Publishing
- Audible.com Release Date: March 22, 2013
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00B5HO5XA
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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The Martian Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
What the book is is mainly the log of Mark Watney, who is a member of the third Mars mission. He is both a botanist and a mechanical engineer. After a freak accident, the rest of his crew leaves him on the Martian surface, thinking he was dead. The rest of the book is about how Watney tries to survive and the rescue efforts taken by NASA to retrieve him. Overall, it is an interesting book, and it was an easy read.
There are some issues, though. The bulk of the book is told through these logs he is inputting, and it tries to capture Watney’s personality, but they have the same sort of issues that everything written in epistolary form have – not all of the situations have a logical reason to explain why this person would be sitting down and explaining to whomever what happened in such detail. This is even stronger in the beginning, where there seems to be no hope, as he has been left for dead. There are additional problems with characterization. Watney’s first words in the book, as related to the log, is an F-Bomb. My first reaction to the character was that he didn’t come across as a super educated astronaut scientist. It took a while to really get a sense of the character’s voice, as for a huge chunk of the time; he is the narrator, inputting his logs.
A problem for me was structural. There was the log entry format, but then Weir slipped into a traditional third past omniscient for scenes at NASA and in the ship that his former crew occupied. It was as if he started in in the log format, but then he realized he wanted scenes off the surface of Mars and had to figure out a way to make that work. It doesn’t. If I were workshopping this, I would tell Weir that that was a point that needed work. He could have lost the log-entry structure and not lost any narrative urgency.
There is a further problem with characterization. Watney works alone, but I didn’t believe any of the relationships. At the beginning, as he was explaining through the log structure the other characters I didn’t feel any real warmth or depth of the relationship between these people who supposedly had spent a lot of time together. Even later, that never really developed for me. I was at first under the impression that Mark was an outsider for some reason, which was so under-worked. There’s also the problem that every one of the crew had like two doctorates, thus Watney was both a mechanical engineer and a botanist. It can be handwaved, but it is very important for the plot. Thus, it feels like a little much, like a super-hero with no weaknesses.
This leads into the narrative issues, in that so much of what Watney does is over explained. It goes back to the world building aspect. The author needs to know all this stuff to make the world work, but once he starts explaining everything it is too much for me. It made me think of that sort of dialogue in TV shows where once character says, “Run this through the GLC,” and the other replies, “You mean the gas-liquid chromatography machine?” And as a viewer, you know it’s just to tell the viewers what they talking about because they already know. It’s worse when they then go and explain the mechanism. Weir explains the mechanism.
I don’t point out all the flaws to be too critical. This is still a very well paced book that builds tension and makes you think how you would act if left behind on a Mars mission. The action builds and resolves and it is entirely satisfying. I’m just critical because of all that it is implies all that it could be, but it is not. I know I’ll watch for Weir’s next book with anticipation.