This book, The Martian, is a fairly popular science fiction novel-turned movie and for good reason too. It’s well-written and it’s got some pretty good science mixed in with the thrill and excitement.
The author, Andy Weir (if you’re interested, he did a Google talk on this book and the science in it), is really aiming to show whether or not it is possible for someone to survive on Mars and get home safely. He’s researched all the science behind it and presents in the most amazing way, exploring what Mark Watney, ‘The Martian’, will eat and how he’ll get it, how he’ll cope with the isolation, what will happen to his equipment under the harsh Martian conditions and how he could possibly re-establish contact with other humans to eventually be picked up again.
But it’s not a boring, hard science essay in novel form. Not at all. Instead, Watney, the botanist of the mission is left alone to his thoughts and resourcefulness, sharing his trials and joys with ‘whoever might someday read them’. Because Watney doesn’t really think that he’s likely to be rescued, giving a very interesting perspective to the book.
For those who have watched the movie, I found that the book had more scientific concepts and references than its film adaptation which was interesting. And although it can seem a little science-heavy, Weir writes in such a way that it isn’t overwhelming and can be understood without a comprehensive knowledge of NASA-level degrees.
And his trials are real. Not only do they require all of Watney’s multi-varied skills and scientific knowledge, but many things he tries don’t work the first time. Things go wrong and he has to fix them, often by using more of his scarce resources. And really, if I say much more, I’ll probably give out too many spoilers.
So whether you’ve watched the movie already, or if you’ve never heard of it before, I’d definitely recommend reading.
And from the writing perspective, there’s a lovely variety in sentence structure, great language (although be warned, a few expletives make an entrance), with a wonderful dose of sarcasm and irony throughout the pages!