I expected (and hoped) to be impressed by Andy Weir’s insanely popular sci-fi The Martian and I am happy to report that it BLEW. MY. MIND. I am mind-patting myself on the shoulder right now for choosing this for the beach – it’s compulsively readable, intense and often witty hilarious (the only type of hilarious I register).
The Martian is probably the first book in my records to go from solid 3 stars at the beginning to solid 5 by the middle. In the end I gave it a 4 (4.5 if only Goodreads were interested in .5’s), because of a few missed opportunities in terms of plot and writing in the third act. In summary I can say this is an astonishing debut with insanely likable protagonist and some badass legit (as far as my perfunctory research on the subject matter indicated) sci-fi.
Since sci-fi is not my forte genre, some of my excitement might be due to this almost-first interaction with it (if the rest is like this, I am buying!) but at the same time, The Martian would not be such a success with all the sci and the fi in it factored by 10 were it not for the Mark Watney one-man talk show. Man, did I enjoy the guy!
As an interview at the back reveals, Andy Weir is a geek, who actually enjoys all the science, relativistic physics and what not that is used/explained by Watney, so the research was pretty much done before he ever thought about writing a story. When he did write it, Weir posted it on his blog, where it fermented for a while. He figured whoever wanted would have read it. Little did he know – some people (thank you, people!) asked for a Kindle version as easier to download and Weir published the book on Amazon for the lowest possible price. The rest is history.
The writing certainly has its weaknesses. Some characters, although Weir does make an effort to create a person behind each of them, come out as a bit formulaic. At times I even resented commander Lewis for being so ready-made, but her little affair with the 70’s and disco redeemed her (some of the great laughs right there). Overall the writing is good – simple and succinct, it serves as the means to telling the story rather than as a feature in itself. Weir’s style is not simple in a Hemingway-an way, rather in ‘a software engineer/science geek wrote me‘ but honestly – I wish this guy would give E L James some lessons on how to not suck.
Sure enough, some 50 pages before the end I was so hooked I set out to check the cast for the upcoming movie adaptation (set for a October 2nd US releas) and see how they fit in with what I had imagined.
No doubt Matt Damon can pull off a remarkable Watney, although I definitely pictured him differently. Besides, after Interstellar, Mr. Damon will have to put some effort in convincing me he is not a jerk, waiting for his crew mates only to, well, kill them? Oh, wait the Interstellar scenario almost sounds like an alternative plot line, don’t you think? Only that guy was a wee bit further than Mars.
The rest of the cast are more or less copy pasted form my mind and Sean Bean as Mitch Henderson – Hell Yeah! (Spoiler: he does NOT die in this movie 😛 ).
Have you read the book? Are you excited about the movie? Please share below – this newbie sci-fi geek can use some discussion : )