Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Martian (Book)

The MartianThe Martian by Andy Weir
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sum it up in a sentence (or two): Mark Watney is alone on Mars. This is his story of survival paired with the rest of humanity's point of view from Earth.

First Thoughts: I'm usually not a fan of survival stories, but I really wanted to know how this one turned out.

Movie Comparisons: Maybe I was more a fan of this survival story because I'd already seen the movie, so I had a visual for many of the technical descriptions. Maybe I was a fan because I wanted to see if the endings matched up. Either way, I don't think seeing the movie took away from my reading experience. The two tellings are very similar, a testament to Weir's cinematic writing, and the vision of Drew Goddard, the screenwriter.

Drawback: Things seem to work out real well for Watney a lot of the time. Yes, he's stranded on Mars, but he just so happens to be the botanist and the fix-it guy/engineer? He faces loads of danger, but also comes across quite a few lucky coincidences.

Science Thoughts: One thing the book expands on is the technical background of everything Watney does. Instead of seeing him MacGyver things, he talks us through them. Luckily his way of explaining makes up for all the jargon, which I'm glad is included. Even though I had no idea what he was talking about 95% of the time, I'd rather he stay in character as a highly educated and qualified astronaut than use laymen's terms for the sake of mass appeal.

Favorite quote: "[Human instinct to help each other] is so fundamentally human that it's found in every culture without exception. Yes, there are assholes who just don't care, but they're massively outnumbered by the people who do." -p369

Spoilers!: The ending is different.

Final thoughts: My big issue, both while watching and reading The Martian was one of risk and cost calculations. If someone needed to be saved from Mars, would I support all the resources - human, financial, and otherwise - it would take to do so? Especially in comparison to all the less "sexy" rescues needed on a daily basis? Space is awesome and all, but several million dollars allocated the right way could save a bit more than one dude who chose to leave Earth. In the end, though, that quote up there says it. The Martian isn't about rescuing one man, it's about the human instinct to help other humans. We're gonna do it.

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