Written by Andy Weir
Science Fiction, Survival
Published February 11th 2011
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first men to walk on the surface of Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first man to die there.It started with the dust storm that holed his suit and nearly killed him, and that forced his crew to leave him behind, sure he was already dead. Now he's stranded millions of miles from the nearest human being, with no way to even signal Earth that he's alive, and even if he could get word out, his food would be gone years before a rescue mission could arrive. Chances are though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain old 'human error' are much more likely to get him first.
Mark Watney is the first human ever to be stranded on Mars. After an accident during a Martian dust storm, his NASA team looses contact with him and barely escapes with their lives. NASA believing that Mark is dead, hold a memorial service for him on Earth. His crew believes that his body lies dead on the Mars surface, but as fate would have it, he's far from it. This story is one told in a few different ways, first person narrative and also as a log entry from NASA Astronaut Mark Watney. The story and it's realism is what you would expect to see, if this unfortunate reality came to pass on the red planet's surface in our very near future.
Mark's mission specialties are mechanical engineer and botanist, which are now the most crucial skills he needs to survive. Long enough to hopefully get off the surface of Mars. NASA believes they have lost the first human to the hostile environment, as do Mark's crew mates aboard ARES 3 who are currently hurtling towards Earth. Their mission cut drastically short after just six days.
I liked that the story took place in a near future, as our generations will be among the first to send Humans to other worlds. It also provides a remarkable wealth of knowledge in both botany and physics,. It is quite clear that Andy Weir, the author, has a keen interest in the subject of Mars, survival of hostile environments and physics. I was pleased to hear that this book is being made into a movie, with Ridley Scott as the director and staring Matt Damon, scheduled for release in November this year.
What I didn't like was the format in which the story was written. It was confusing at times, with the first six chapters being little more than information overloads. But I feel that was necessary to bring the reader up to speed of the science behind the novel.
This book does contain mature language and some toilet humor, so I would not recommend it for more discerning readers. Even if science fiction isn't your typical read, I still recommend giving this one a try. It offers something that all readers can take away from the storyline, even if little more than a few hours of entertainment.