Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Martian by Andy Weir

An astronaut is the sole inhabitant of Mars in Andy Weir's The Martian. Mark Watney was believed dead and left behind by his crew mates during an emergency departure. The next ship will not arrive for another four years.

Mark is resourceful and his journal entries reflect his resilient sense of humour.
"I'm a full-grown man who only occasionally wears diapers (you have to in an EVA suit)."
"Yes, of course duct tape works in a near-vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped."
"I'm even going to electrolyze my urine. That'll make for a pleasant smell in the trailer. If I survive this, I'll tell people I was pissing rocket fuel."
Weir includes other great characters, too. The action alternates between Mark's survival journal, the people on Earth who are trying to help him, and the crew on the ship headed away from Mars. The story is compelling and I zipped right through it, occasionally skimming over parts with a little too much scientific detail. The premise of the book is the first hook, and Mark's memorable voice kept me engaged.
"I need to ask myself, 'What would an Apollo astronaut do?'
He'd drink three whiskey sours, drive his Corvette to the launchpad, then fly to the moon in a command module smaller than my Rover. Man those guys were cool."
Mark Watney, you are pretty cool yourself!

For curious readers eager to learn more about the practicalities of space travel, check out a fun nonfiction book: Packing for Mars by Mary Roach.

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