On a manned mission to Mars, a NASA crew left their mechanical engineer for dead on the planet’s surface as they lifted off to return home. Now Mark Watney must find a way to survive with limited supplies, and broken equipment, until he can find a way back to Earth, where no one realizes he’s alive.
Commander Lewis was in charge. I was just one of her crew. Actually, I was the very lowest ranked member of the crew. I would only be “in command” of the mission if I were the only remaining person.
What do you know? I’m in command.
Most of the story is told through Watney’s audio journal as he describes his day-to-day actions. I’ve always had a soft spot for epistolary novels, maybe from reading too many weblogs in the last two decades, and this worked brilliantly as an audiobook. This was my introduction to R. C. Bray, and he was perfect. He handled both the humor and the intensity very well, and when more characters were introduced his different voices were distinct but natural.
I’ve been slowly getting into science fiction these past couple of years, but I still haven’t attempted much hard science fiction. Despite being a big ol’ nerd, it’s just never appealed to me. I was always under the impression that the characters and plot generally took a back seat to the ideas, but that certainly wasn’t the case here. There was a lot of exposition, but it was perfectly balanced and interesting. I think the difference is that it wasn’t background information but rather information that dealt directly with his immediate survival. A lot of the writing is also hilarious, which I’m sure helps.
Yes, of course duct tape works in a near-vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped.
This is Andy Weir’s first novel, and I can’t wait to read what he comes out with next. This has changed my mind somewhat on what hard science fiction is. Solaris is probably the only other novel of the genre I’ve read, which I also really enjoyed, so I guess there’s hope for me yet. I think my prejudice comes from an interview with Isaac Asimov I read when I was younger, where he discussed his approach of ideas over characters, but maybe I took that too much to heart.
In related news, a few days ago it was announced that Ridley Scott will be directing the film adaptation of this, which is great news in my opinion. Matt Damon will be playing Mark Watney, which doesn’t seem like a great fit, but I’m happy to be proven wrong.
I’m considering what hard science fiction I should look at tackling next. I do have the Foundation series kicking about, as well as some Arthur C. Clarke and Larry Niven, so maybe I’ll start with those. I’m certainly open to suggestions, though!