Friday, 8 May 2015

The Martian by Andy Weir

This was our book club pick for April, and I am very glad it was. (There is no theme to our book club, except a general consensus that we want to avoid most traditional book club fare. Anybody who shows up to meetings can pick a book for some future read. Also, we meet at a pub, because beer and books and good food = a lovely evening out.)

So, what can I say about The Martian? I could spout something about how it was like this book was written just for me, but that would be ignoring how huge this book has been, one of the few self-published books online to be worth reading, then published to huge response and an upcoming movie. So, there's that.

But then there are also all the reasons why I enjoyed this book so thoroughly. For one, I'm a space nut. I may not understand all the science, but I've read what I can get my hands on, nonfiction to go with my steady science fiction diet. I cried like a baby at...well, actually, many things about manned spaceflight make me cry like a baby. It's a thing.

So, from a technical standpoint, of course I was going to like this, provided it wasn't too dry. And it's really not. Weir does an excellent job of both being very procedural, while making those procedures urgent and interesting.

I'm also deeply moved by stories where people work together to solve something. That's kind of NASA's stock-in-trade, so of course all the bits where they're trying to figure out how to talk to him, let alone help him, really got to me. Plus the crew that had left him behind. That reaction tickled me pink, and no, I'm not going  to tell you what it is.

What really makes this book, though, is the humour. Without it, this would be too dry, and too dark to enjoy. Watching a man on the ragged edge of sanity wonder about why Aquaman can control whales strikes just the right note.

I'm sure you probably know what this book is about. A man, trapped alone on Mars, trying to survive for as long as possible. That's the bare bones of the story. This one is all about the execution, and it's not a dense book. It's a quick read, it's funny, and man, is it ever tense. I read a review where someone complained about it being just one damned thing going wrong after another, and my reaction was, isn't that pretty much the classic man v. nature plotline? That's sort of the way things happen in stories of survival under adverse circumstances. You wanted an alien trying to kill him somewhere in there?

Whatever. I enjoyed this one thoroughly, and would highly recommend it. It's not deep, but it's very good.

3 comments:

  1. I should make a point of visiting you here more often. You were always one of my favorite reviewers back when you were "all in" on Goodreads. Anyway, I was pretty sure that this one would appeal to you given your sci-fi predilections. You certainly have not lost your touch.

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  2. Sorry, didn't mean to be "Unknown". I'm your old GR friend Steve H.

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    1. Good to hear from you, Steve! And thanks for the kind words.

      Yeah, The Martian was totally up my alley in every way. Such fun.

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