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.