Okay, I'm late to the game - this book came out forever ago - but I'd like to add myself to the masses praising Weir's work.
I love sci-fi, I love survival stories, but I kept dragging my feet about this book because I always get frustrated with all the artistic licenses taken re.: science (see Life as We Knew It).
As a scientist, that stuff straight up guts me.
But this book... You guys, this book!!!
Let's start with Mark. Mark has to be the chillest dude in any survival book ever!
He doesn't Rambo his way through problems, he uses science - he's that elusive Science Hero (WARNING: link will take you to tv tropes where you may be trapped for days) that's been so conspicuously absent from our media these days.
It's impossible to dislike Mark. Impossible!
Everything he does is backed up with maths, physics, biology, logic, a shitload of thinking through everything, and unfailing hope and good humour. There is no tstl to be found in this book.
Then there is Mars itself: the great adversary.
I love that Mars, in its beauty, is the closest thing to an antagonist in this book. All the humans are doing their best, are doing what they think is right, to bring Mark home.
The plot, which has everything to become dull, never does so. It's always lively and keeps you on the edge of your seat. I suppose, since Weir wrote it in instalments, there was never an opportunity for things to stall.
It also really helped that whenever Mark solved one problem and thought things might be looking up, some catastrophe would pop up.
I feel like sending a love letter to Andy Weir.
This is how you do research for a book.
Apart from the dust storm at the beginning - which I'm letting slide because it's the catalyst for the plot - everything is so beautifully researched!
I know it's stupid to be getting teary-eyed over this, one would thing that it's the bare minimum an author should do for their book - but it's so rare!
Another thing that always gets me teary-eyed: the whole of humanity uniting over something that means more that our petty squabbles.
I love how the entire world was rooting for Mark, how everyone put aside their differences when it comes to this - it's one of the reasons I decided to become a scientist: how it propels mankind forward, how it's greater than us. You know... the whole Sagan ~feel~ of it.
It was my favourite thing about this book, hands-down.
«Teddy swiveled his chair and looked out the window to the sky beyond. Night was edging in. “What must it be like?” he pondered. “He’s stuck out there. He thinks he’s totally alone and that we all gave up on him. What kind of effect does that have on a man’s psychology?”He turned back to Venkat. “I wonder what he’s thinking right now.”LOG ENTRY: SOL 61How come Aquaman can control whales? They’re mammals! Makes no sense.»
Andy Weir's amazing site (with a bunch of free stories)
Buy The Martian
@ The Book Depository (with free worldwide delivery!)