“WATNEY: Look! A pair of boobs! -> (.Y.).”
The Martian is a science fiction novel by Andy Weir which follows Mark Watney, the stranded astronaut, after an evacuation on Mars goes wrong. This man goes through a lot. Surviving on a desert island? That sounds like some easy shit compared to surviving on another planet. With all the odds seemingly stacked up against Watney, the book will never cease to bore you.
As a fan of science-fiction books myself, this book was for sure a hit. With an excellent mixture of science and humour, this book had me laughing on the train, and missing my stop. Yes, that is how into the book I got, people. And this is coming from the girl who only half falls asleep on trains because I’m scared I’ll miss my stop and end up in some remote part of Australia. With a diversity of strong female characters and the frat boy like attitude of the protagonist, the book has an adequate depiction of science that wouldn’t confuse you despite the fact that sometimes its scientific explanations can sometimes be a little overly descriptive. Nevertheless, the fact that the book was not full of scientific jargon and its sometimes childish humour allow for the novel to not only to be incredibly engaging, but also an easy read.
To be honest, I did sometimes find that Watney was a little too… optimistic? Despite the fact that this is the whole basis of the book, it would have been interesting to see a little more character development rather than a repetitious “Oh fuck, this isn’t going to work.. Yes it works! TAKE THAT!… Oh shit”. You’re stuck on Mars, you have to survive on potatoes and oh wait! You don’t have enough potatoes to survive the many, many many Sols you have left until NASA comes and saves you. You don’t really feel Watney’s loneliness or despair as he even moves to make jokes about his own death. Don’t get me wrong, he is a fun character to follow and he’s definitely likeable, he just lacked depth.
Anyway, Weir does a fantastic job of breaking down the science to make it believable, presenting the facts to us in entirely layman’s terms. There are many concepts to attempt to wrap your head around, but Weir’s extensive use of science paired with his well-described and drawn explanation makes it easy for someone who isn’t well versed in the world of science understand and enjoy the book.
“I’m turning my pee into rocket fuel. It’s easier than you’d think.
Urine is mostly water. Separating hydrogen and oxygen only requires a couple of electrodes and some current. The problem is collecting the hydrogen. I don’t have any equipment for pulling hydrogen out of the air.
If I survive this, I’ll tell people I pissed my way into orbit.”
The novel thrives on childish and geeky humour as Weir throws in something for everyone. Ranging from the wittiness of “Maybe I’ll post a consumer review. “Brought product to surface of Mars. It stopped working. 0/10.”” to the more computer-related, Weir adds enough comedy to provide some sort of comedic relief after catastrophic events (generally explosions) while simultaneously instil hope within the reader that Watney will survive.
I was a little upset with his portrayal of a… nerdy(?) and not so funny software engineer or computer scientist, but hey, I won’t let my bias affect my judgment of the novel.
“We updated Pathfinder’s OS without any problems. We sent the rover patch, which Pathfinder rebroadcast. Once Watney executes the patch and reboots the rover, we should get a connection.”
“Jesus what a complicated process,” Venkat said.
“Try updating a Linux server some time,” Jack said.
After a moment of silence, Tim said “You know he was telling a joke, right? That was supposed to be funny.”
All in all, this book is nothing short of spectacular, it is well-researched, leaves you nothing but charmed by Watney and with an insane appreciation of duct tape because ” Duct tape is magic and should be worshipped“.