Thursday, 29 October 2015

THE MARTIAN by Andy Weir

This book which is now a bestseller and – apogee of literary achievement – a movie, began life as a self-published pdf. I read a very charming interview with its author who explained that he had an irrational fear that the whole thing was set up, some kind of big joke, because the path from pdf to blockbuster seemed so unlikely.

The book tells the story of an astronaut who is left behind on Mars and has to survive for almost a year on his own. The interest of the story is not at all psychological – the astronaut remains implausibly chipper throughout – but more in the way he – as he puts it – ‘sciences the shit’ out of his situation. He comes up with all kinds of inventive solutions to apparently impossible problems – growing food, getting water, etc – which are very interesting to read about. It made me wish I’d studied science in school, and I hope it does that too for the kids still in school who see the movie. Somewhat unintentionally, I‘ve also seen the movie, and it’s better than the book – shorter, more psychologically believable, with added bonus of Matt Damon being mostly bare chested.

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