August 25, 2015
The Martian, by Andy Weir
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue 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 kill him first. But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?
I’ve already reviewed The Martian, by Andy Weir, but Penguin-Random House’s Broadway imprint sent me a movie tie-in paperback and wanted to know what I thought, so this short review will mostly talk about the physical book.
I enjoyed the stark contrast, and use of negative space on the North American release with the astronaut mid-fall. The movie tie-in is very similar to the United Kingdom cover, a close-up of the Watney’s face. Of course, in this case it’s Matt Damon. The rear cover has the blurb and praise, and I wonder if the likes of WSJ, Financial Times, and the Chicago Tribune are relevant. Douglas Preston and Ernest Cline are both popular authors, so their inclusions make sense.
I’m surprised that the tag line, and twitter hashtag #BringHimHome isn’t anywhere on the cover. The first two-and-a-half pages are all advanced praise, and there are some impressive quotes in there that should be on the back cover instead of the ones I complained about.
I look forward to seeing the movie in October, and if someone decided to pick up the paperback, I suggest they get the Random House paperback instead. There’s just something to be said for that beautiful North American cover.
Andy Weir was first hired as a programmer for a national laboratory at age fifteen and has been working as a software engineer ever since. He is also a lifelong space nerd and a devoted hobbyist of subjects like relativistic physics, orbital mechanics, and the history of manned spaceflight. The Martian is his first novel.