The Martian - Andy Weir
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Review of "The Martian - Andy Weir"
Now writing music gig reviews for free tickets. Sorry ciao, less time for you now; just wish you hadn't stopped paying for music reviews.
I was rather surprised that my 75 year old rural living mother fairly recently presented my beloved and I with a joint book to read. The surprise was that it did not involve her usual reading material of either cutesy animal stories or porno romps involving well endowed muscular black men (my mother usually (but not exclusively) manages to remember to give me the animal themed stories). Even more of a surprise was that the book, The Martian, was of a current film of the same name (starring Matt Damon); my mother is not renowned for her knowledge of current popular culture.
The Martian: The PlotWe are in the near future and humanity has reached the point where we are visiting and exploring Mars in person. It is however early days and the ventures have huge personal risks attached. During a Mars walk a huge storm develops and one of the adventures, expedition botanist Mark Watney is assumed killed, and his crew mates leave him behind on the planet for their own safety.
By a twist of fate, Watney is actually alive and he finds himself deserted on a remote planet on his own. The book accounts Watney’s struggles to survive with the resources to hand on the planet, together with ground control’s efforts to achieve a successful recovery.Does Watney survive? Let’s just say there’s a Hollywood Blockbuster and Matt Damon’s ego and reputation as an American all-action-hero involved, so I’ll leave that question to your imagination to ponder.
I thought the premise of The Martian to be a powerful one. The thought of being stranded on your own with danger all around you and absolutely no access to help or support is one that is completely alien to most people these days. We can’t even attempt to climb a set of stairs without various safety provisions being pre-installed for us.The book was also fairly technical in nature, with Watney explaining his various predicaments thoughts and solutions in the form of a series of ship blog update, sharing his logic in thinking through solutions to problems (creating water to grow crops for example). While I’m not a natural scientist (human geography and accountancy being more my thing in terms of formal education) I appreciated the factual groundings that author Weir gave to the book to make it feel more real. Finally, Weir gives Watney something of a quirky sardonic sense of humour which often works well in the context of the story.
In terms of the writing itself, I wouldn’t describe Weir as the most accomplished author and the book does not contain dazzling prose, however, he certainly gets the facts across and manages to produce an engaging and exciting book, even though you suspect you know the ultimate outcome.* strange factoid: American author Weir is very frightened of flying and didn’t manage to visit the film set of The Martian in Budapest. Weir doesn’t appear set out to be a Martian explorer.
Book or film?
As I recently endured a long flight I have now also watched the film version of the Martian. As is often the case, I much preferred the book. In this case, I felt the book version gave much more of an impression of the danger that the main character Mark Watney was in stranded alone on Mars, and the strong bond that had formed within the team of astronauts.As an aside, given that Tim Peake went to space on a Russian Soyus Rocket, should he not be described as a Cosmonaut rather than an Astronaut?
I was pleased to have read the book before seeing The Martian on film as it offered the technical context and the relationships between the people involved in a way the film did not cover. As a stand-alone read, I also enjoyed the Martian as an engaging and emotional but fairly undemanding action read.Overall I’ll bestow a strong 4.5 star rating on Andy Weir’s The Martian.
* A 670 word austerity sized review to reflect that Ciao book reviews no longer attract premium fund payments, and so merit less effort.
Product Information : The Martian - Andy Weir
Manufacturer's product descriptionISBN: 1785031139
Author: Andy Weir
Title: The Martian
Publisher: Del Rey
Release Date: 2015
Listed on Ciao since: 18/01/2016