Hey Fledglings! Rose here rejoicing in all that is Andy Weir’s The Martian!

Damn this is a good book. Just read it. Don’t like science fiction? Who cares! It’s brilliant!

Here’s the overall idea of the book:

An astronaut gets left behind on a planet that is hell bent on killing him.

Forget the moon, forget the space station, humans have started travelling to Mars.The book starts with the Ares 3 mission aborting Mars because of a gigantic unavoidable storm (some of these things can be the size of a continent!). However, in the storm, astronaut Watney is injured and ripped away from the group. His fellow crew mates assume he’s dead and make the decision to leave without him. Waking up some time later he finds that he is alone with no chance of rescue. Whereas most people would give up, he doesn’t let something as small as being stranded alone on a planet that is over 33 million miles away from his home get to him.

Mark Watney is an astronaut who specialises in Botany. Not too helpful in space you would think, but you’d be wrong; Botany kicks Mars’ ass. By using his Botany skills he plants potatoes, effectively colonising Mars. He works out a way to exist on Mars until Ares 4 arrives so he can get home. Sure, there are a few accidents – he almost dies several times – but the book is a story of a man that won’t give up. Watney is a wonderful character that readers can relate to and his hilarious observations are (at least for me) the best part of the book. Constantly cracking jokes, it makes the book a joy to read but when something does go wrong, which it often does, the seriousness of the situation brings the reader down to Earth (or should that be Mars) with a bump.

When the characters back on Earth learn that he is alive they are immediately locked into a power struggle to achieve any chance of getting Watney back home. Earth seems a place of inflated egos and sparring ideas, a contrast to the life on Mars. Although Watney faces difficulty in achieving his goals, he doesn’t have to fight the bureaucratic bullshit that comes along with humans, he just has to fight an inhospitable planet and honestly at points, it’s questionable which is harder! The secondary characters are perhaps where the book struggles a little with their representations, as their plight dims a little next to Watney’s and their personalities are generic and some annoyed me a little.

The most impressive part of this book is not its popularity but how much knowledge is packed into it. Andy Weir researched everything; the calculations, the technology – he made the book as realistic as possible. Published independently, it became a huge success with a spot on Amazon’s best sellers list, and was quickly picked up by a publishing house. He is working on another book presently called Zhek, which I will definitely be reading.

This is a brilliant book that deserves its popularity and is an engaging, humorous read. But not just for Sci-Fi lovers: it can be enjoyed by everyone and I think that’s one of the secrets to it’s success.

Yes, there is a film. And yes, you probably have seen it.

But books are better than films!

Rose

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