THE MARTIAN – Andy Weir (self-published in 2011, professionally in 2014)

The MartianThis is a thrilling book indeed, and it basically delivers what all the praise it’s been getting promises: real SF, plausible, funny at times, an outright page-turner. If that appeals to you – and why wouldn’t it? – do not hesitate: read this book. It’s good stuff.

After about a page or 50, I started to fear that The Martian would be nothing but journal entries that follow a fixed pattern: astronaut encounters problem on Mars, thinks about problem, solves problem, encounters new problem, repeat ad nauseam. Weir luckily is a smart enough author, and in order to keep the reader interested, inserts enough variety in the way he tells this story (which basically is indeed not much more than said succession of problem solving).

2 other minor problems didn’t get a real fix, imo. Weir doesn’t succeed in transferring feelings of loneliness or despair to the reader. While this book seems very plausible science wise, I’m not sure if any person (not even selected and highly trained astronauts) would remain as sane as Mark Watney does. So, don’t start reading this expecting a very wrought out, realistic psychological story. That doesn’t mean Mark Watney isn’t a great, lovable character. He is, and he’s a big part of the appeal of The Martian.

The other thing that doesn’t work is the portrayal of time. Obviously Watney is stuck on Mars for quite some time, but to me, as a reader, it just felt like a month or 2.

On both accounts, Weir chose entertainment over true realism. Nothing wrong with that, but it keeps The Martian from being a Real True Masterwork of Art about the Bleakness of Space and the Ultimateness of Reality.

Still, these two quibbles shouldn’t keep you from reading this book. It’s recommended indeed, and I had real trouble putting it away before it was finished. I hope it wasn’t a one shot affair, and look forward to read more of Andy Weir in the future.

originally written on the 12th of April, 2015

4 responses to “THE MARTIAN – Andy Weir (self-published in 2011, professionally in 2014)

  1. Hey, have you read Artemis? Weir’s next book? I just finished it. Great read for the science but poor on character and plot development. Nowhere as good as The Martian but I still recommend it. Thought on detail here:
    https://www.starvind.com/bookreviews/artemis/
    Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I haven’t read it. Not really planning to either, back when it came out I already decided I’d pass, and if you say it’s not as good as The Martian that confirms my inintial decission. 🙂 I will check out your review though!

      Coincidentally I talked a bit about The Martian in the comments on another blog a few days ago, thinking I might like it a bit less if I’d read it today. 5 years ago I rated it 4/5, and my hunch is that maybe today I’d rate it 3/5: great entertainment value, but maybe less interesting on the artistic side.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks. I agree, his books are certainly not worth reading for artistic value but he gets the science details right which is not easy.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: FAREWELL, EARTH’S BLISS – D.G. Compton (1966) | Weighing a pig doesn't fatten it.

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