The Martian Paperback – 27 Aug 2015
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"Andy Weir's masterpiece!" (Tom Hanks Twitter)
"Watney's gallows humour and his brushes with death as he uses every ounce of his intelligence and astronaut's training to claw his way out of the pit will have you laughing and gasping by turns. I read this book in a weekend. I didn't think I'd have the time to - but Andy Weir's edge-of-the-seat storytelling didn't leave me any choice." (Richard Madeley, Richard and Judy Book Club)
"Andy Weir's terrific 'lost in space' novel is an absolute page turner from first to last ... Tautly-written, full of extraordinary and fascinating detail about life in a frozen red desert so far from home, The Martian is one of the best thrillers either of us has read in years. Highly recommended." (Judy Finnigan, Richard and Judy Book Club)
"The best book I've read in ages. Clear your schedule before you crack the seal. This story will take your breath away faster than a hull breech. Smart, funny, and white-knuckle intense, The Martian is everything you want from a novel." (Hugh Howey New York Times bestselling author of Wool)
"Accomplished…believable but suspenseful as [Watney] battles against the odds for survival" (The Guardian)
"like Gravity meets Robinson Crusoe – utterly nail-biting and memorable." (James Lovegrove FT)
"A book I just couldn’t put down! It has the very rare combination of a good, original story, interestingly real characters and fascinating technical accuracy…reads like MacGyver meets Mysterious Island." (Astronaut Chris Hadfield Commander of the International Space Station and author of An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth)
"The amount of research here is astounding. We’re suckers for well-grounded fiction, and on the technical side, The Martian is exemplary ... witty ... funny" (SFX)
"The Martian kicked my ass! Weir has crafted a relentlessly entertaining and inventive survival thriller, a MacGyver-trapped-on-Mars tale that feels just as real and harrowing as the true story of Apollo 13." (Ernest Cline New York Times bestselling author of Ready Player One)
"Weir’s debut is easily the best SF novel of the year so far" (Financial Times)
A high concept thriller and genre busting classic, now a major motion picture starring Matt DamonSee all Product description
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I think one of the reasons this book is so popular, and certainly why I liked is it that Mars feels so tantalizingly close. I hesitate to classify this as sci-fi, simply because technically speaking most of the stuff in the book is feasible now - it's more an engineering problem to be solved, and political will that stops us solving that problem. There are no warp drives, lasers, aliens (hope that's not a plot spoiler) or other staples of sci-fi - just a guy trying to get home after getting stranded far from home. Reading this made Mars feel even closer - I hope some day soon we get there.
The book and is carried on the witticisms and banter of main character Mark Watney, the titular Martian, and are jam-packed with pop culture references, science-y bits, and one-line zingers. And whilst I appreciated them, even found them amusing, this is also the story’s downfall. It sounds like the kind of dialogue I’d exchange with my equally nerdy friends on a Saturday night meet up – not Apollo 13 on Mars as it was billed to me by the hype. As a result it feels like it’s missing a sense of epic scale, and the stakes just don’t feel that high. At no point did I ever feel awed, or gripped, or really worried for Watney. Whenever something went wrong I simply wondered how he was going to fix it this time and what amusing commentary he’d provide. I never worried for a minute about his ultimate survival. Fun and entertaining? Yes. Compelling and thrilling? No.
The writing is competent, not outstanding. Apart from the complicated science-y bits, the language is kept simple, which is good for accessibility of the average reader, but for me I felt it lacked a little bit of creative flair – the language is very functional and to the point, there’s very little evocative imagery or creative description. The characters are largely functional too. Outside of Watney, everyone else basically boils down to their job at NASA or their role (e.g. Mark’s parents, Vogel’s wife, etc.). Watney himself is interchangeable – his vital stats could be swapped out for someone older/younger male/female American/non-American and there be no difference whatsoever to what happens in the plot.
Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would. It’s amusing, it’s entertaining, it’s interesting – it’s just not the most amazing, earth-shattering book ever written, so don’t go into it expecting that. It reminds me a lot of an old classic actually – The Moon Is Hell by John Campbell – in its diary format and its functional problem-solving (minus the crime solving that also goes on in Campbell’s novel).
The science - and there is a lot of accurate and detailed science - behind his numerous solutions is sort of hypnotic. There’s way too much detail, and it can go on for pages, but at the same time it’s sort of pleasingly poetic. The wit is unsubtle, a sort of gung-ho optimism that has almost no depth but is so transparent I couldn’t help but buy into it. There’s not much thrill in this thriller, for the result is a foregone conclusion, and the science is such that any attempt to play along at home and work out how he’s going to get out of any given problem is futile unless you’re also an astronaut level engineer.
The book is also a structural mess, jumping from different narrative viewpoints (first person, third person, narrative third person) as the author requires, with little understanding of how such devices can interplay. Somehow though, the clumsy execution of the story enhances its authenticity, working in its favour. The Martian sucks you in despite the things that are so clearly wrong with it, and the ending made me want to give a little cheer. If you’re prepared to be a forgiving reader, then there’s a lot to like here.
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THE MARTIAN is a standout of science fiction. Brilliant, bold, and badass, it follows one man left behind for dead on Mars who...Read more
I love the self depreciation and wise cracks from the protagonist, Mark...Read more