The Martian by Andy Weir
Six astronauts had just started their exploration on Mars when a horrific windstorm blew up. The communications array was destroyed – along with any planetary communication with NASA back on Earth. It appeared that Mark was killed when his spacesuit was impaled by one of the antennas. By the time he regained consciousness, his shipmates had followed protocol, left the planet, and took the Mars shuttle home.
Mark is left on Mars with the supplies for six people in the temporary habitat set up for them while they were on their assignment. The next ship is due for about 1400 more sols. He has enough oxygen to survive. Unfortunately, his food should only last about 100 sols. He has to use his engineering and scientific knowledge to figure out how to survive until the next ship arrives on Mars.
Andy Weir originally (self?) published The Martian in 2011. It was published by Crown Publishers in 2014. It’s an exciting fast paced story of the struggle for survival against overwhelming odds. The Martian was quickly picked up and made into a movie to be released in October, 2015. It’s the heroic type story that appeals to everyone.
Weir tells most of The Martian through Mark’s narrative logs once he realizes what has happened to him. Sometimes Mark is excited, some times frightened, sometimes bored, and usually a bit of a smart aleck (how much 1970’s television can one person re-watch??). At times the book’s point of view switches to the engineers at NASA and others who get involved in keeping Mark alive until he can be rescued.
If the reader isn’t a scientist, the paragraphs about the science involved in different parts of Mark’s work can be skipped. For example, Mark knows he needs water and how he can make more. His narrative gives the breakdown of the amount needed, the steps to make it, and what is involved in each step to create the water he needs. These sections show the work Weir put into keeping his fighting-the-odds tale realistic. Things don’t magically happen for Mark Watney – he has to work for each sol he stays alive. Personally, I glossed over those parts.
Mark Watney is a modern-day Robinson Crusoe with greater odds against him (no air outside his habitat, for example). With a realistic ending for Mark and a bit of philosophy from Mark, The Martian is a lively book that keeps the reader pulled in and breathless throughout.
Notice: Strong language