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Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Martian by Andy Weir

This was our final book group selection for 2014, and ended up being a great book to end the year with. 

The MartianThe Martian by Andy Weir

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jacket Blurb:  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?

This was my bookgroups final selection for 2014, and  great book to finish the year on. 

I thought this was a interesting blend of 1950's genre - with the scientific observation, the breakdown on how things work and what it would take to survive - and 2010's optimism of manned flights to Mars.  The classic book that came to mind while reading The Martian was Heinlein's Have Space Suit Will Travel.

The premise of the book is, Mark Whatley is stranded on Mars due to a freak accident during an emergency evacuation.  It will take every bit of cunning and ingenuity he has to survive long enough for the next Mission to rescue him - which is about four years.  His main concern is food and water, and if he can grow potatoes, he can improve his odds of survival.  Next is water, how to make water on a waterless planet.  Then he need to reestablish communication with Earth.  Don't forget keeping all the equipment running well after it's estimated allotted time-span - there are no spares on Mars!

The odds are stacked against him - and in fact, if it can go wrong, it will go wrong.  Mark just can't get a break.  What I loved was his optimism, his sense of humor, and his "this isn't going to happen unless I make it so!" attitude.  He was a character that I cared about, and I found myself rooting along with the rest of  "Earth" for his survival.

Meanwhile, we also get Earth's point of view from Mars Mission Control.  Some good insight into "behind the scenes" action and what Earth thinks of all this.  I appreciated the author keeping these glimpses some what short and focused.  I do believe anything longer or more indepth would have detracted from the story - and Whatley.

It's by no means a 'perfect' book.  There are some questionable scenario's.   My one big question would be, would Earth really rally like it did in the book?

Ultimately, this was a book that pulled me along.  I don't claim to understand all the science, I admit to glossing over some of the scientific breakdown, but I still really enjoyed this.

Highly recommended.

View all my reviews

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