The Martian – Andy Weir – Science Fiction/Adventure.
I bought this on the back of trailer for the film – which I rarely do. It looked amazing, and it was.
This can best be summed up as Robinson Crusoe in space. In a future not too distant or improbable mankind is beginning to colonise Mars. It is still a hostile, alien world filled with danger but in the spirit of exploration and adventure that has marked humanity since the dawn of history this is merely a hindrance, not a barrier. When one of their number is swept away, injured in a terrible storm the rest of the crew must make the difficult decision to leave a man behind – if they look for him then no one gets home. This is not really their story.
Watney, the man who was last seen disappearing in a dust storm, badly injured and left for dead is alone, light years from home on a planet determined to kill him. Rescue is years away, if it comes, and so he must use that determination and pioneering spirit which marks out his ilk. This is HIS story. The excitement picks up quickly and does not let up. Watney’s dark humour and positive disposition weave a spell on the reader, one wants him to meet the challenge, to survive and to do what no one has done before.
Without wishing to give too much away the book progresses to NASA and Earth discovering his plight and he becomes the most famous man on two planets, as it were. Think of the real life coverage of the brave Apollo 13 crew – the whole world watched as they defied the odds and came home. That is the feeling here. I found myself unable to put the book down, and could imagine watching on TV as the story unfolded. I REALLY wanted Watney to survive. I really felt for his crew and his dilemma.
There is some technical language – which is mostly explained in the diaryesque way of storytelling. It certainly doesn’t overwhelm the story and brings a sense of realism. It’s science fiction with a good dose of science fact.
If I have a criticism it’s perhaps some of the minor characters are not nearly as well defined as Watney, but then again there is a big cast and this is not really their story.
Overall – Excellent, exciting, well written and engaging.