Tag Archives: The Martian

Movie: Less Martian, more NASA

The Martian is not the best scifi movie I ever saw, but it is reasonably faithful to the book for a change. Only a little tiresome with the manipulated tears. Funny how the tear ducts respond even when the brain is saying oh, come on now.

I rented the flicker via Amazon and watched it on my Kindle Fire tablet for about six bucks. The “Martian,” Matt Damon was exceptionally good. So were the young babes, unknowns to me, at Mission control and on the Hermes spacecraft, which was easily the largest thing Earth ever launched and with Starship Enterprise interiors.

I still think, as I did with the book, that the author was too much of a NASA and government fanboy. Damon being of and being rescued by a private space company would have been much more interesting. There were sequences that demanded some NASA involvement but those could have been finessed.

I did come away with less of a sense of the book’s story of one man’s ingenuity in the face of impossible odds. Damon always seemed to be plugging in available hardware rather than devising unique ways around his problems. More of the focus, certainly more than in the book, was on NASA and its (in this case) babe or black scientists and their ingenuity in working out a rescue. The group, rather than the individual, was a cause for celebration. Typical of a socialist worldview.

The movie, like the book, also annoyed me for its use of CNN as the major television channel that “brings the world together” when Fox has been No. 1 for more than a decade now. But that’s what you would expect from Hollyweird, where conservative commenters like the ones on Fox are verboten. CNN’s liberals obviously preferred. Just like the Hollyweirdos keep making unpopular leftist political message movies, somehow eating their losses.

So how many stars on the Stanleymeter? Four. Do I advise you to rent it? Only if you’ve read the book first, which is much more inspiring if much less tear-jerking.

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?