I’ve known about Andy Weir’s book, The Martian, since its hardcover publication in early 2014. It had a bright reddish orange cover that made the book standout on the shelves. I bought a copy late last year when it was published in paperback and it took me until August to finally sit down and read it. In that time I didn’t absorb any of the book’s contents other than what was included on the back cover. As always, I’m only getting around to reading the book several months later but dammit, there are too many books and so little time. Thankfully the trailer for Ridley Scott’s film adaptation lit a fire under me and I snatched the book from off the shelf. Weir’s first outing as a published author caught me by surprise. He deserves the praise he’s received so far, but I also think he deserves a better editor and an opportunity to tell a refine his craft and tell a different kind of story, something that will allow him to spread his wings and improve as an author.
Anybody taking the time to read this is probably familiar with the story. Astronaut Mark Watney gets stranded on Mars after the crew he’s on is forced to terminate their expedition. Left behind on an unforgiving planet, he has to find a way to survive several hundred days and travel several thousand miles over very rough terrain in order to be rescued. The problems are many, he doesn’t have nearly enough food to survive so long and all of his equipment wasn’t designed to last beyond a few weeks or operate in the way he’ll have to use them in order to stay alive. The odds are certainly not in his favour but Watney has one advantage. As a botanist and a mechanical engineer, he has science on his side. Add to this that he has far more time than he knows what to do with (boredom is one of his many struggles) he nonetheless develops a plan for his survival and works on it daily. His ingenuity is his making survival in the most difficult conditions a possibility.