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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A really entertaining space survival story
I'm not a big fiction fan, particularly science fiction. Most of my reading is non-fiction, with a few novels here and there. However, I came across "The Martian" and was immediately intrigued, reading the first chapter or two there and then. It's an excellent story.

To set the scene: in the near future NASA has established the Ares Program to send astronauts...
Published 2 months ago by Baz

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mars - a Survivalist Handbook
Very enjoyable read and an interesting premise. Persevere beyond the GCSE maths fest that constitutes the first section because fortunately the rest of the book moves on to an actual plot rather than a series of equations. Did feel in retrospect that we don't actually get to know much about our hero beyond his problem solving skills - think most humans in such a situation...
Published 6 months ago by G. Morgan


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A really entertaining space survival story, 20 Aug 2014
By 
Baz (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Martian (Kindle Edition)
I'm not a big fiction fan, particularly science fiction. Most of my reading is non-fiction, with a few novels here and there. However, I came across "The Martian" and was immediately intrigued, reading the first chapter or two there and then. It's an excellent story.

To set the scene: in the near future NASA has established the Ares Program to send astronauts to Mars. Mark Watney, the titular Martian, is the lowest-ranking member of the third mission. A few days after his Ares 3 crew lands on Mars, they are forced to abandon their mission. Unfortunately, Mark is seriously injured on the way to the escape vehicle and is left behind, the rest of his crew and NASA back home believing he's dead. He has no means of communicating with Earth. He has no means of getting off the planet. His supplies of food and water will last almost a year; the next Ares mission is due to reach Mars in 4 years time. And so his battle to survive begins.

Andy Weir has done a great job of making Watney someone the reader really cares about. Watney comes across as the kind of person you'd want to have around in a crisis. Not just for his technical abilities and inventive improvisational skills, but his upbeat nature and sense of humour. You find yourself really caring about him and willing him to succeed, despite knowing little of his back story. Despite his vast knowledge of chemistry, physics, engineering and botany he never seems like a know-it-all, possibly because of his many setbacks and near death experiences. I was crying with laughter at some points as he recounts his his day to day survival in log entries.

I really hope that "The Martian" gets picked up by a studio and filmed. And I really hope Andy Weir writes another book.
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110 of 120 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get out of that without moving, 5 Feb 2013
By 
William J. Fox "KillerBill" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Martian (Kindle Edition)
NASA has set up a chain of expeditions to Mars but very soon after landing the third one is aborted and the scientists have to leave. Unknown to them their dead companion, who is not actually dead, finds himself stranded on Mars with little hope of surviving until the next scheduled mission. Air and water are not the problem but he does not have enough food despite being left with the resources to accommodate six explorers.

Right from the start this is a gripping page-turner and no matter how hard Mark Watney strives to survive Mars works just as hard to kill him. All the time I was willing him to succeed only to have yet another believable crisis threatening his continued existence. In my opinion you will not find a better thriller set on Mars or elsewhere. I had not previously heard of the author and cannot remember how I ended up buying his book to read on my Ipad, but it was a good day. Highly recommended, excellent value for money, and I look forward to reading other work from Weir.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quick, Interesting read, 18 April 2013
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This review is from: The Martian (Kindle Edition)
This novel has a great premise, which is in many ways it greatest strength. Weir is great at delivering technical information in his writing style, and a great part of the text is quite technical. But it's succinct, and is never bogged down with advanced vocabulary. However, if you are not looking for a story that talks a lot about the technicalities and issues of space travel and inter-planetary exploration, this book is not for you.
The story itself is good, switching between the main characters life on mars, and the events of those back on earth adds a refreshing change of pace at key points which keeps the reader engaged. Do not expect a deeply philosophical approach to difficulties faced by a lone human on a barren world, you wont be getting it. Life alone on Mars is described by Mark Watney, a likable and quick witted botanist, who likes to keep things simple, and humorous.
All in all, this book will interest the sci-fi fan, and will appeal to the casual reader, such as myself, looking for a new and refreshing story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tense and thrilling, snide and sarcastic - Mark Watney is science geek heaven (and my new crush), 18 Oct 2014
By 
K. J. Noyes "Katy Noyes" (Derbyshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Martian (Kindle Edition)
What a find! Occasionally Richard and Judy surprise me with an unusual choice that turns out to be a piece of undiscovered gold.

Who would have though that a story billed as 'Castaway meets Apollo 13' would have nearly made me late for work?! But science won me over, science and space thrills.

It's simple enough to convey: a team working on Mars is surprised by a dust storm. One of the team is lost with a hole in his suit, the others told to evacuate. Leaving him behind, he wakes up later to discover his situation. His team think him dead, NASA think he's dead. He's on his own.

Absolutely HOOKED. And I'm not ashamed to say that I have a huge crush on botanist/engineer Mark Watney. Huge. He narrates the story as journal entries from Mars, as problem after problem must be overcome - his suit, water, heat, food just for starters. Each time his sense of humour only heightens the tension as you see just how terrifying it must be there for him to make light of it later.

It's a book with a LOT of science in it. I won't pretend to understand more than 1 in 10 of Mark's explanations and solutions, but it doesn't matter. The overall terror, the human story, the excitement mean you can follow Mark's progress without having to catch all the terminology.

It does feel well researched though. You do feel you can picture Mars: the cold, the barren landscape, the loneliness.

Marks story changes from Castaway's one-man-trial partway through to more Apollo 13 as the NASA side of the tale begins to filter in and awareness of his 'alive' status arises. Earth's reaction is well detailed. NASA's plans and frantic meetings feel real, the desperation to save this lone man and the millions poured into it touching.

And yet Mark keeps his irreverent sense of humour as he reaches ever closer to a lonely death.... Just how will it end?

I was on the edge of the bed desperately turning pages to get there. I loved the writing, the back and forth Mars to Earth narration. I loved Mark's cobbled-together and insane plans. I loved the tension and space talk (even if I didn't follow it all). You do not had to be a techie to enjoy this.

I've already got a few library customers to order this. They better stay away from Mark though :)

Looking out for the author's next book. Excellent way to get noticed Mr Weir.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Mars a day stops your work, rest and play, 15 Oct 2014
By 
Crookedmouth ":-/" (As seen on iPlayer) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Martian (Kindle Edition)
Mark Watney* has a problem. Quite a big problem. He's stranded on the planet Mars (it's a long story) with a year's worth of supplies. No one on Earth knows he's alive and the planned return mission won't land for another five years. What's a guy to do? Well, most of his survival tactics seem to involve setting fire to his habitat...

Andy Weir self-published The Martian in 2012 and if there's any proof needed that self-published novels CAN be good, then this - emphatically - is it. The self-published ebook sold like hotcakes before it was picked up by a print publisher the following year and it's now in development as a big-name movie.

The story is good, solid, hard science fiction, a cross between any castaway story you care to name and any astronaut-in-peril story you care to name. There's a healthy dash of techno-thriller in the mix with plenty of MacGyveresque science to keep the nerds happy. To be honest, some of the technical descriptions left me standing but it's easy enough to step around these points and get on with the story.

The writing is strong, competent and easy to read. However, the delivery swaps between First Person (Watney's Mars Survival Journal) and Third (events back on earth. This jarred to begin with in more ways than one. In particular, Watney's personal account helps to build a strong and sympathetic character portrait, whereas the characters covered in the other sections seem to lack any real oomph, faceless bodies for the most part, whose only role is to move the plot forward. As the story moves forward this becomes less of a problem, but it never quite goes away and the book suffers for it.

But what the hell?! The plot is a real corker! While it's nothing new (stranded, struggle to survive, race against time), follows a very klinear and predictable course and the eventual outcome is hardly beyond doubt, Weir somehow manages to weave a classically unputdownable story that easily transcends the narrative problems and literary cliches. I loved it. It's been a long time since I've read deep into the night but, having started reading one evening in bed, I eventually had to force myself to go to bed at 2:30 the following morning and then squeeze in a couple more chapters before truddging - gritty-eyed - to work a few hours later**. Every other chapter seems to be a cliffhanger and the lead character is so engaging (and witty) that you're dragged (willingly) from page to page.

In spite of its flaws, this is an enjoyable and hugely impressive debut.

* "Mark Watney" is no name for an astronaut. "Buzz", "Buck" or "Jim" perhaps, but "Mark Watney"? It makes the poor guy sound like the third-in-line heir to a failed brewing empire...

** Hence the review's title
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Read, 4 Sep 2014
By 
M. Dowden (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Martian (Paperback)
So, at last I have actually read this book that has received some major hype since publication – and I must admit that I did enjoy the read. Some of the comments and reviews from the Press and other publications have been perhaps a bit too OTT. Larry Niven’s comment about this being like Robinson Crusoe but written by someone brighter, all I can say to that is Larry please actually read and understand Robinson Crusoe.

As a roller coaster ride of pure escapism and action this book does fulfil, but methinks this was written with a film in mind. There are many reasons for this as the style is pretty visual, and the characterisation is not fully developed, only the amount you would expect for an action movie. Being male of course when I was little I wanted to be an astronaut, like most boys, but there has to be something different about people who actually do the job, after all they have to take off with a lot of rocket fuel just below their backsides, which I suppose makes them to a degree into adrenalin junkies. I have nothing against astronauts, and not only do they have to be brave, very clever and intelligent, there are loads of other attributes that they must possess, and in this story you do wonder how Mark Watney managed to complete the training. I liked the man as I read this, but there are quite a few times when you wonder if he is a bit simple. For someone alone, stranded on Mars you do have to wonder what would go through your mind. Obviously there is the aim to stay alive, but you would also have a lot of negative thoughts, and contemplate on life and its meaning. For us reading this though, Watney never really has this depth of character, making him seem only partly real.

Reading this I thought of the film ‘Speed’ which I love, but I remember when I first saw it at the cinema and when new events cropped up everyone would groan, and then laugh, so although things keep going wrong and Watney has to come up with solutions, sometimes by himself, other times with the help of NASA you don’t actually get bored, instead you end up thinking of what can possibly happen next. Andy Weir has obviously thought of Michael Crichton when writing this, as with both authors, if something can go wrong it will, it is usually down to people to put right the mechanical and computer failures.

Where this lifts itself above other such books is that there is always a certain strain of humour running through this, and the author throws in some good satire, what with the politics within such organisations as NASA which rely on government support, and the Chinese space agency deciding whether they can help or whether everything should remain secret and they should ignore what is happening. Also it is amusing to see NASA going from solutions with all the safety factors in place, to things that are a bit more ad hoc. Certain elements such as this do make this a lot better than other books. Like the majority of people reading this I haven’t really thought about the chemical and mathematical equations and if they are correct, but I suspect at least one person has sat down with pen and paper and checked these as they were reading this, and it would be interesting to see whether the author is correct.

As for a more deeper element to this novel there isn’t really one until the last few pages when we are made to think of all the people and all the organisations that help to try and save Watney, and how people help and risk themselves all the time with such things as looking for those stranded whilst hiking, or saving people from the sea. In all then although not the best written book, this is full of action and is good escapism. Does Mark Watney survive? You will have to read the book to find out.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mars - a Survivalist Handbook, 24 April 2014
By 
G. Morgan - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Martian (Hardcover)
Very enjoyable read and an interesting premise. Persevere beyond the GCSE maths fest that constitutes the first section because fortunately the rest of the book moves on to an actual plot rather than a series of equations. Did feel in retrospect that we don't actually get to know much about our hero beyond his problem solving skills - think most humans in such a situation might display a greater range of emotions, nostalgia etc. But then I am guilty of contemplating the deep fragility of life every time I board easyjet to Bristol. Interesting to compare this with James Smythe's novel The Explorer which dealt with a similar scenario with far more humanity and emotional depth.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Martian MacGyver, 7 Oct 2014
This review is from: The Martian (Kindle Edition)
Martian MacGyver
This is one of the most entertaining reads I’ve had in a while. For those of you looking for a Star Wars style adventure with futuristic technologies then this isn’t the book for you. For those interested in a space story told within the restraints of real, actual physics then it most definitely is.
Mark Watney is a resourceful astronaut who finds himself accidentally stranded on Mars, abandoned by a crew who believed him dead. Because of orbital mechanics they can’t return for him, and because of planning restraints NASA can’t organise a rescue mission for a long, long time.
Unfortunately for Watney the one thing he doesn’t have is time. He has to survive on his engineering and botanical skills alone, and by utilising the various items his mission left behind on the surface. It doesn’t help that he’s the only living organism on a dead planet devoid of food and oxygen and heat; the most isolated human in the universe.
He tells his story in diary form and I warmed to his character very quickly due to his attitude and sense of humour. I even laughed out loud on occasion at his turn of phrase.
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46 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I have waited so long for this!, 1 Oct 2012
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This review is from: The Martian (Kindle Edition)
Andy started this as an online serialised story years ago, and I have been following it on his website avidly. It's a very witty, well written novel about a man stranded on Mars after an accident causes his crew mates to leave him for dead on the planet. Mark Watney is fighting to survive from the very opening sentence and his successes and failures are thoroughly endearing.

I loved every minute of reading it and I look forward to reading it over and over again. :)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pageturning heaven, 12 Sep 2014
This review is from: The Martian (Paperback)
Too often, "A pageturner" turns out simply to be a description of what needs to be done in order to get to the end of the book.

In this case, it's a warning: stock up on cod liver oil and glucosamine -- if you don't have arthritis in your fingers before you start, you will by the time you've finished The Martian: your fingers will be on overdrive as they struggle to keep up with your reading pace.

Weir has produced an intelligent and heart-racingly exciting novel, with a level of seeming realism that SF writers are too often unable to approach. Even that worst fault of much of SF, a preponderance of technical detail, is transformed into narrative excellence through the alchemy of Weir's writing.

Masterful.
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