The Martian by Andy Weir
Adult ∴ SciFi > Deceptively Real Fiction ∴ Contemporary
Published August 18th 2015 by Broadway Books
Paperback ∴ 435 pages
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.
Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.
After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.
Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.
But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?
This should be the start of a new genre of books: Realistic Science Fiction or SciFi: in Real Life or something. Fictionally-Factual Science. I had so much fun reading this book, it’s unreal. I took a class in my last semester of undergrad called simply “SciFi.” I thought, “Cool. I’ll get to read some cool SciFi books I wouldn’t normally read and get a grade for it!” No. It was not fun. We read old, original SciFi books (like Princess of Mars, Stranger in a Strange Land, and Out of the Silent Planet, we didn’t read anything published after 1977) and they all dealt with “interplanetary contact.” That just means “Mars and it’s inhabitants.” I did not find it enjoyable. Now, if we had read this–yeah, yeah, there aren’t any aliens in it, whatever–I think I would have at least enjoyed one book.
Reading this book, it’s hard to remember that Mark Watney is on Mars because he talks about his daily tasks so nonchalantly. You forget that every time he leave the Hab, he spends 10+ minutes putting on his space/EVA suit. You forget that he can’t breathe without a helmet, that he’s fast running out of food.
The book reads pretty fast and it’s definitely a page turner. I love Mark’s personality and that he manages to stay sane for nearly 2 years on a planet by himself. NASA is more panicked than Mark ever shows. He spends everyday farming and watching 70s TV shows and complaining about bad sitcoms rather than complaining about being trapped on an (previously) uninhabitable planet. Dude has some serious optimism.
I really recommend this book to those wary about SciFi but wants to give it a shot. This is a great get-your-toes-wet kind of book. It’s funny and scary and well-written. Do it. Make your dreams come true. Just do it.