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The Martian by Andy Weir
Read in 2015


I happened upon the film trailer for the Martian and I was keen to read the book before the film is released.

I found the author's humour as the stranded astronaut to be fun:

p.127 He takes a laptop outside on the red planet...

"Each crewman had their own laptop. So I have six at my disposal. Rather, I had six. I now have five. I thought a laptop would be fine outside. It's just electronics, right? It'll keep warm enough to operate in the short term, and it doesn't need air for anything

"It died instantly. The screen went black before I was out of the airlock. Turns out the 'L' in 'LCD' stands for 'Liquid.' I guess it either froze or boiled off. Maybe I'll post a consumer review. 'Bought product to surface of Mars. It stopped working. 0/10.'"

p.133 There are a number of acknowledgements to the cost of space missions. Here is one:

"[Get out of bed!] Uncle Sam paid a hundred thousand dollars for every second we'll be here."

Having some German friends I immidiately realised Vogel is German (it was confirmed in a later chapter):

"[What'll you have for breakfast] Vogel, your usual sausage?"

"Ja, please," Vogel responded.

"You know you're a stereotype, right?"

"I'm comfortable with that," Vogel replied, taking the proffered breakfast.

p.175 "By the way, the name of the probe we're sending [with food] is Iris. Named after the Greek goddess who traveled the heavens with the speed of wind. She's also the goddess of rainbows."

..."Gay probe coming to save me. Got it." [Watney replied.]

p.303-4 "If there were no storm, I'd be going directly southeast toward my goal. As it is, going only south, I'm not nearly as fast. I'm traveling 90 kilometers per day as usual, but I only get 37 kilometers closer to Schiaparelli because Pythagoras is a dick."

If you don't want me to reveal whether he survives his ordeal on Mars or not, then don't read these final passages:

Throughout his ordeal Watney had millions of people from around the world (Earth) watching his efforts play out like a reality TV show.

p.368-9 "I think about the sheer number of people who pulled together just to save my sorry ass, and I can barely comprehend it. My crewmates sacrificed a year of their lives to come back for me. Countless people at NASA worked day and night to invent rover and MAV (Mars Asscent Vehicle) modifications. All of JPL busted their asses to make a probe that was destroyed on lauch [costling 100's of millions of dollars]. Then instead of giving up, they made another probe to resupply Hermes. The China National Space Administration abandoned a project they'd worked on for years just to provide a booster [but also get a Chinese astronaut into space on NASA's next mission to Mars].

"The cost of my survival must have been hundreds of millions of dollars. All to save one dorky botanist. Why bother?

"Well, okay. I know the answer to that. Part of it might be what I represent: progress, science, and the interplanetary future we've dreamed of for centuries. But really, they did it because every being has a basic instinct to help each other out. It might not seem that way sometimes, but it's true.

"...Yes there are assholes who just don't care, but they're massively outnumbered by the people who do."

Nice positive words to end on.

Oh and the Americans sure do seem to swear and throw insults at each other a lot!

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