Title: The Martian
Author: Andy Weir
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group, 2011
Summary/Review: To understand why you will enjoy this novel let’s start with the author. Andy Weir was hired as a computer programmer for a national laboratory at age 15. He is a self-described science geek who actually created and programmed a Mars mission in order to make this story as realistic as possible. His grasp of all things outer space, scientific and NASA is truly breathtaking. He actually received a book and a movie deal within weeks of each other.
We meet the hero of the story, who I could not help but thinking of as Matt Damon, who stars in the movie, as he wakes up from a dust storm catastrophe as a member of a manned mission to Mars. He is all alone and wonders why he isn’t dead. The rest of the crew has lost touch with him an assumes that he is dead. He is incredibly resourceful as he creates, seemingly out of thin air, methods to produce water, oxygen and to grow potatoes to provide sufficient calories to sustain him for the years he figures he will have to wait for even a remote chance of rescue.
Time and again the poor guy has to react to the unforgiving climate and the unexpected consequences of his solutions to an unending list of problems of everyday life, any one of which could kill him. Along the way he hatches plans to modify the Mars surface rover vehicle to allow him to reclaim a probe from a previous mission and hot-wire it to make radio contact with Earth, and other McGiver-like scientific sleight-of-hand just to make it to the next day.
An unexpected pleasure of this book is how funny it is as he talks to himself and then to NASA about the problems of surviving and maintaining a minimum level of sanity as he survives alone for years. He watches lots of 70’s era television shows, listens to Disco music and reads detective novels, all left behind after the first of the many catastrophes he endures.
This is an exceptionally interesting and funny read. You will only be disappointed when it ends.
Who will like this book?: This book was recently made into a movie, so if you’ve seen it and enjoyed it of course you should read the book! Someone looking for a funny book that’s written about a serious topic.
If you like this, try this: This is Andy Weir’s first novel, but you can expect more from him after the success of The Martian. It’s rated 4.38 of over 250,000 reviews on Goodreads – if that doesn’t convince him to write again nothing will! There are a slew of space novels available, but none hit the funny mark quite like Andy Weir. If you’re looking for funny science fiction, try Ernest Cline or the classic Douglas Adams.
Recommended by: Mark Z, guest reviewer
If this looks like a book you’d like to read, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or to place a hold!