Monthly Archives: May 2015

Book Review: The Martian

the martian

It’s amazing because a.) it’s so good and b.) it got written.

The major character is inventive, physically strong, determined to stay alive and never gives up. He is funny and self-deprecating and smart. There are no interior monologues, or very few. No ruminating, depressive sadnesses, passive weeps, fixed gaze on unclean accumulations and/or stuff, long dull hopeless hours regretting things, horrible injuries that ruin one’s day and so on. It is refreshing as citrus. This astronaut is not defenseless before the might of foreign planets or objects. The plot is elementary; Mars v. Nerd.

It is a Robinson Crusoe story but very technical and for once I didn’t mind all the technical writing. The language is a little too breezy with nerd language and the end is just a bit improbable but I love writers who avoid clichés even if their orbit sends them banging into another one. Who knew the Martian atmosphere was nearly a vacuum? I thought it had some kind of an atmosphere, maybe nitrogen and something else unbreathable but it has about zero. Therefore sound does not carry. He loses his communication with earth. But earth (NASA) can see him from their satellite cameras so he Morse-codes things out with rocks, lumping around like the Michelin man in his EVA suit. Long and short rocks, I assume. He manages to raise potatoes. The way he makes water is hair-raising and explosive. He lives in a great tent-like thing called The Hab. They have to come and get him. He has to travel 3200 kilometers (about 1700 miles) across Mars to the pickup place in a rover, dragging his breathing equipment and food and water with him. Wagons Ho. Trust me, you will love it.

It started out as a self-published e-book (free) and then sold so many he was picked up by a major publisher. He has a movie option and I hope they make it. I have two options out and they never made either book into a movie. So it goes.

A strong protagonist like this can pick up the narrative and the entire story-line and carry it like a backpack without faltering.





Author pictures Jeez Do I have To

reading in tennessee enemny women tour sleeping carUntitled

And so I have been reminded that I need the Author’s Photograph here on the blog — me being an author. As well as riding around the vast spaces of Texas and so here are pictures of me on the Enemy women tour most of which I did by train, all over the United States. Top, reading in Tennessee with an author from East Tennessee who said ‘boooks’ for ‘books’ but then again I say ‘roof’ as if it were pronounced ‘roef’ as opposed to ‘rooof’. Bottom is cold, cold Minneapolis but it was a fabulous hotel. A big hotel. Behind me and beyond the plate glass is Minneapolis. What a place.

So if I have pictures of myself writing or playing the Irish Tin Whistle, which I am at present teaching myself, I will post those as well, it’s just that April and June have great I-phones and I ride with them and they take pictures.

Continuing work on the action novels. Years ago when I gave writing seminars or taught writing classes I asked the students to try an experiment — write nothing but action, I called it action-to-action. No dialogue, few tags. NO INTERIOR MONOLOGUES. Period. People who fell into the trap of interior monologues would be encased in detergent and shot down the laundry chute if I could find one. It is a very useful technique to learn. Few know how to do it, all too few.

But is it ever fun.

Yours truly PJ



IMG_0696 (1)horse

Here it is, with help from Harold of River PC, a moom pitcher. I think. I and my two most faithful riding friends, April Baxter and June Chism, hauled our horses to north Texas, an eight-hour drive, to stay with June’s sister-in-law and her husband. De and Clint Brown. That’s their barn with the abstract-ish rendering of the Texas flag. Got dog Rita to ride in the saddle with me at least for a bit. We rode on their ranch and then at the LBJ Grassland state natural area which had no grasslands. they are good to be with. the Browns were very hospitable, fed us with gourmet food and wine and a big fire at night, one of the better trips if not THE best.

Clint Brown is a retired FBI agent and had printed up the story of his adventures in the FBI many years ago, I love self-published memoirs. I don’t know how he is still alive but was never shot in all his adventures. I am so lucky. I get to meet the most fascinating people.

North Texas is the area where much of my next book takes place. Jennifer Brehl, editor, and I have decided on the title News Of The World. I should put this up on my front page I suppose. I am at present waiting for her next edit of the mss.

Storms threatening all week. I have three big Spanish oaks that have lost most of their limbs either through high winds or drought.  It is like seeing friends or family grow old and debilitated. It makes me sad. I try not to think about it. Such is nature or something philosophical in that line.