Book Review: The Martian

I remember when the movie came out.  I remember when this book was hot stuff.

And I remember thinking, at the time, that I didn’t have opportunity to read it, but I’ve found out that’s a bold-faced lie.  So here we go – at long last, far overdue, The Martian.

The Book

41i9zbweu0l._sy346_The Martian
Author: Andy Weir
2014
Amazon Link

One of my underlings read this book just before the movie came out.

Rumor has it, the captain likes disco, and that’s the only music left to the main character after he crash lands on Mars.  Is that the true story?  Don’t care.  If there’s a hope of disco, I’m freaking there.  Far too few disco references in the general world, much less in the book or literary spheres.

Non-Spoiler Review

I had a lot of fun reading this castaway book and would recommend if you’re into sci-fi at all. Mark Watney’s journey to survive abandonment on Mars was filled with engineering nightmares and kludgy fixes. Beyond that, most of Weir’s science was pretty good (a couple of the biochemistry things were a little off, and I don’t believe for a second that Watney was a good botanist). Either way, I thought the tension was pretty much spot-on throughout the book, and the disappointments and successes came at such well-planned, perfect intervals.

Because I got 100% of the 70’s references, I kind of understood the little dopamine hits one receives from reading Ready Player One if they remember/study the 80’s. I love Disco like Captain Lewis.

Speaking of Lewis – she was the Captain of the journey to Mars, and her primary character trait was she loved 70’s pop culture. Otherwise, she was pretty much the same as Mark Watney, the main character.  In fact, all of the characters seemed to be the same. Some of them had quirks – like being German, or obsessed with the 70’s, or being Mexican (by descent, not nationality) – but when it came down to it, all of them were intelligent assholes full of dick jokes, just like Mark. It didn’t bother the story too much, but it was weird to me that many times I had to pay attention to the dialogue tags. Otherwise I wouldn’t know who just said what because their voices were so similar.

Despite what I thought was a fairly big flaw, I had a massively fun time reading this book.

4/5 Discoball Snowcones

4 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

As a castaway book, the objective is to survive with limited resources and eventually escape. A couple times, like when the habitat popped (the habitat is a carbon fiber tent), I didn’t know how Mark was going to survive. The engineering solutions were always clever, and I definitely enjoyed that part.

In the end, Mark gets aboard the Hermes with his old crew.  The problem? Weir doesn’t show Mark making it back to Earth.  To me, this is a major oversight because:

  1. The Hermes had been experiencing failures and reduced capacity due to certain parts being used past their design lifetime. We can’t be sure it was going to keep them alive all the way back to Earth.
  2. They used up a bunch of fuel trying to get Mark. What happens when they need that fuel getting back to Earth?
  3. THEY BLEW A FUCKING AIRLOCK GETTING MARK BACK. Did they never read about the Columbia disaster and how problems with the plating caused them to basically disintegrate upon re-entry? Are they doing all the requisite checks after blowing a fucking hole in their ship?
  4. Speaking of the above hole, they vented the ship entirely then re-filled it with air once they sealed it back off. Here’s a problem – what if their blowing a hole in the ship causes a leak or a rupture in the hull they can’t fix? They could suffocate, slowly.

So yeah. To me, it’s not foregone Mark or any of the crew will make it back to Earth. As far as I could tell, the book ended because they all suddenly died in the next second after the end.

Next week:

Long awaited because it’s just been a long time in acquiring this book, I’m going to read Cixin Liu’s highly awarded and praise The Three-Body Problem.

15 thoughts on “Book Review: The Martian

  1. D. Wallace Peach says:

    The very end of your review made me crack up. “And they all died.” Ha ha ha. I’m far from a scientist so I wasn’t burdened by reality. Pretty good, though, if it kept your interest and that’s cool that you got all of the references. Great review.

  2. Alexander Elliott says:

    It was a satisfying read all told, but I found the book difficult to slog through and really wasn’t interested in the sciency parts! The movie was very entertaining and brought the best features of the book to life, though a bit rushed. The tale still contains a good bit of fantasy, despite being promoted as an example of hard science fiction! In the end, you enjoyed it and that’s the important thing.

  3. Jules says:

    I read the non-spoiler review. I think I’d catch most of the references to the 70 – but I’m not really a disco fan. And there’s only so much risque jokes one can take in a day. That all being said if I found a copy in one of my Little Free Libraries I’d pick it up just for curiosity. The not knowing who is talking could be annoying though.

    When life gives one lemons, one needs to make lemonade:
    Here are to sort of sequels to the CR post you commented on (Thanks)
    One changes names and stuff like that to protect the innocent 😉
    1 A Slight Interruption?
    2 Lingering Hesitation?

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