Monday, January 26, 2015

Edi's Spotlight: The Martian by Andy Weir

Dear Readers,

on 1st of December 2014 I bought a copy of  The Martian (digital, February 2014) [Kindle ASIN: B00FAXJHCY] by Andy Weir and

NON, JE NE REGRETTE RIEN!


The Martian aroused a lot of interest. Stellar reviews popped up and finally it won the GOODREADS CHOICE AWARDS 2014 in the category science fiction. In the meantime there are nearly 61000 ratings with an average of 4.36 stars and nearly 11000 reviews over at GOODREADS.
Today I add my two cents.


Book Store Information
In general my decision to read a book is mostly based on the cover and the blurb/synopsis delivered on the back cover. You do not get more information when you are in a book store. The world of books is changing which means I also will take in account blurbs and descriptions on GOODREADS and other places.
Here we go:



The Martian (digital 2014) 
[Kindle edition ASIN: B00FAXJHCY

"Apollo 13 meets Cast Away in this grippingly detailed, brilliantly ingenious man-vs-nature survival thriller, set on the surface of Mars.

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first men to walk on the surface of Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first man to die there.

It started with the dust storm that holed his suit and nearly killed him, and that forced his crew to leave him behind, sure he was already dead. Now he's stranded millions of miles from the nearest human being, with no way to even signal Earth that he's alive--and even if he could get word out, his food would be gone years before a rescue mission could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to get him first.

But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills--and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit--he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. But will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?" [Source]


The Delivery
The 334 pages are divided into five main parts which are subdivided into 34 consecutively numbered chapters followed by an epilogue.

Does this book deserve all the praises? I can answer the question with one word: YES!

In a case you expect criticism I must disappoint you. Instead I will try to explain why The Martian is one of the best books I read in 2014.

Mars also known as the "Red Planet" is the second smallest planet in the Solar System and it is the fourth planet from the Sun.
After the Moon the "Red Planet" is the next goal in the history of manned spaceflight.
That means so far (January 2015) no human being left his traces on Mars. The travel to Mars is still science fiction.
But thanks to several unmanned exploration missions we know a lot about the planet. Add to this the known knowledge of botany, the experience of manned spaceflight to the Moon and orbital mechanics. Based on that it should be possible to write a realistic book about a manned Mars mission.

That is what author Andy Weir delivered with The Martian. But he delivered so much more.
He gave the mission a "face" in form of  astronaut Mark Watney. This strong, intelligent, humorous, flexible, smart, reflective, persistent and articulately individual is such a believable, lovable and adorable character. It is nearly impossible to deny to follow Mark Watney through thick and thin.


The cherry on the cake is to combine the realistic mission with the extraordinary character in a cast away situation.
To be the only human being on Mars with limited resources, no communication with Earth and no hope to be rescued - Only a person with the personality of Mark Watney is able to avoid the state of shock and to face fate in a most positive way.

So please visualise the situation mentally - He is alone, nobody to communicate with except himself, in matter of life and death.
In order not to go mad you need to talk to yourself and put every thought and every idea and every plan to a diary. That is the reason why the first chapters deal with a lot of explanations. I admit that I did not understand every detail but the descriptions  - for example how to produce soil on Mars - made the scenery so true-to-life.
I know that there are readers who did not really like this passages. But from my point of view the story would not work without. The inventiveness of Mark Watney is impressive. That also shows why it takes a long time and endless tests to find the right persons for such a mission.
Of course Apollo 13 and Cast Away and MacGyver popped up in my mind because you  each mission/person is in one way or the other included in the story. Bur these are three different stories and The Martian is just one.

It is amazing to read how Mark Watney extents and change his plans after he found a way to get oxygen, food and water on a more or less regularly base.
I admit I dropped the book and applauded when Mark found a way to communicate with Earth.
That means there are more Persons involved than in Robinson Crusoe.
With the start of communication the story continues at three different places: Mars, Earth and the spaceship on the way back to Earth.
Of course one can say that a few characters on Earth look a bit stereotype. But that did not disturb my reading pleasure.

The whole story is full of dramatic events and the final ... No, no ... you have to read the book on your in order to know what happens with Mark Watney  ....
 
This is the best  science fiction novel I read in 2014. No other book delivered a better symbiosis of entertainment and science on such a high level.



The Inevitable

You want science fiction with a lot of science presented in an entertaining way?
You look for a This strong, intelligent, humorous, flexible, smart, reflective, persistent, articulately and believable character?
You want to know how it is possible to survive on Mars for a certain time?

Then I recommend to read The Martian (digital, February 2014) [Kindle ASIN: B00FAXJHCY] by Andy Weir



4 comments:

Ted Cross said...

I'm definitely going to read The Martian. I have it already but just haven't found time for it yet. I really enjoy your reviews, and I'm impressed with how much reading you get done.

ediFanoB said...

Hello Ted,
thanks for stopping by.
It seems the I read a lot. But when you look at the books I read you will recognise that a lot of them are not longe the max 350 pages. If I would have read only books with 700 to 800 pages the number would drop to four books.

Glad to read that you enjoy my reviews. The next book I will review will be "The Immortality Game" which you know better than me :-)
Expect the review on Thursday or Friday this week ...

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I've heard a lot about it, especially now that they are making a movie. Need to pick it up.

ediFanoB said...

I Hope it will be a good movie.
Instead of sleeping I used part of the night to write the review.

Next one will be "The Immortality Game" by Ted Cross ...

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