I read The Martian, which surprises me, because I don’t usually have an interest in space travel, but the reviews I was reading about this book were making me curious. Well, I liked it. It was a lot of fun to read. I learned some things, laughed a little, and spent some time on the edge of my seat.
If you don’t already know, The Martian is about an astronaut who gets left behind on Mars, accidentally. It’s about his desire to live, and the efforts of the people on Earth to rescue him before it’s too late. This guy is smart. I didn’t know there were people out there who were this smart. And the book is full of others just like him, including the man who wrote it. His ability to come up with this story and all the crazy McGyver-type moves that happen boggles my mind. I tried to follow all the science-y tech-talk (I have a science degree, after all), but I had to just let some of it go over my head.
If I had to point out a couple of things going against this book, one would be that there was almost too much technical stuff. Everything that was done was explained meticulously, which is partly extremely impressive, but sometimes it felt like too much to read about. Because I’m the type of reader who likes to get every word, it slowed me down quite a bit trying to picture all the equipment adjustments and repairs and checks that were constantly being done. However, some people might revel in all that stuff, or find it easy to skim over. One other slight annoyance would have to be the narrator. At first, I thought his upbeat voice was over the top, but I got used to it, and have decided that the tone of the book would be much different without him. Probably not as much fun.
If you like survival stories, or stories that involve solving puzzles, then you will definitely like this one (I’m thinking of you, Dad!). There’s a reason it is getting all those positive reviews. One thing is for sure; it made me glad I am not an astronaut and I don’t work for NASA.
Good quotes and other stuff:
Three’s Company gets a few mentions. I loved that show when I was young and not allowed to watch it.
Commander Lewis is a woman!
Mark listened to a lot of Disco music while on Mars (because that was all that was available to him), and he chose his theme song; Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees.
A few quotes:
The fifth one (meal) is reserved for the day I launch. It’s labelled “Last Meal”. Maybe that’s not such a good name.
As you can see, this plan provides many opportunities for me to die in a fiery explosion.
If ruining the only religious icon I have (a cross) leaves me vulnerable to Martian vampires, I’ll have to risk it.
After taking the Hab apart to reuse many of it’s pieces:
The Hab is a shell of its former self. I’ve robbed it of all critical components and a big chunk of its canvas. I’ve looted that poor Hab for everything it could give me, and in return it’s kept me alive for a year and a half. It’s like the Giving Tree.
I’m in the middle of a bunch of craters that form a triangle. I’m calling it the Watney triangle because after what I’ve been through, stuff on Mars should be named after me.
Who knows how far south the storm goes? Well, NASA probably knows. And the news stations back on Earth are probably showing it. And there’s probably a website like http://www.watch-mark-watney-die.com. So there’s like a hundred million people or so who know exactly how far south it goes.
Although this book is primarily a survival adventure story, there is also one big message that shines through.
…every human being has a basic instinct to help each other out. It might not seem that way sometimes, but it’s true. If a hiker gets lost in the mountains, people will coordinate a search. If a train crashes, people will line up to give blood. If an earthquake levels a city, people all over the world will send emergency supplies. This 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.
Do any of you have a good story to share about this basic human instinct?