The Martian

Far and away the best self-published book I’ve read. The Martian by Andy Weir started out as a 99 cent indy ebook and didn’t get its current name brand publisher and hard- and softback editions until after it became an Amazon hit.

The story of an astronaut mistakenly left for dead on Mars and how he deals with it does a great job of puffing NASA, Weir obviously being a NASA fanboy. A private space consortium behind the protagonist would have been more logical than a bloated government bureaucracy. SpaceX or one of its progeny. But never mind.

I got a little tired of the technical stuff at several points but it seemed that whenever I did, the author took the narrative in a more interesting direction. Mercifully the story has almost no politics in it nor any of contemporary science fiction’s usual dystopian babble. It was also a pleasure to meet some unadulterated heroes in science fiction again. Hopefully that will become a trend.

It was amusing to see Weir pick CNN and NBC as NASA’s chief media conduits to the public. Perhaps he doesn’t know those two have been dead last in the audience ratings for more than a decade. No mention at all is made of Fox, which is number one, and whose audience is vastly larger than CNN’s or NBC’s combined.

Nevertheless, Weir’s story is an immensely enjoyable testament to the value of the individual. It’s optimistic about humanity in general and human space exploration in particular. Can we get back to it now, all these years after Apollo and the space shuttles endlessly going nowhere?

2 responses to “The Martian

  1. I read it. Actually, only the first half. Somehow the writing style grated. Probably I’ll be up for another go in a few months.

  2. Hmm. I was only put off by the technical stuff which most seasoned scifi writers keep in the background and here it’s up front much of the time. In the beginning I thought I was in for 300 pages about growing potatoes, but it got better and I even got to be interested in the tech.