Sunday, May 18, 2014

Book Review: The Martian

The Martian, by Andy Weir, has an interesting publishing history, but that's not why I'm recommending it to you.

It's a ripping yarn -- that's why I recommend it: one of the SF stories we yearn for when we stand at the SF section of the brick & mortar store, looking at all the sadly awful time-anchored SF that is getting cranked out today*, one of the stories we mean when we say, I wish they would just publish a cracking good story, just something I want to read.

Here you are.

I've heard it called Robinson Crusoe on Mars, and I guess that fits, if Robinson Crusoe had been funny, and kind of post-Modern.  And Science Fiction.

Plot, basically, is an astronaut, Mark Watney, one of a crew of six, gets accidentally left behind during an emergency evacuation.  The next mission isn't for four years -- but he only has enough food for 300 days.  What to do?

The crew that left him thinks he's dead.  The book really gets cracking when a tech reading satellite footage notices he's alive, and NASA has to decide what to do.

Told in multiple viewpoints, via Watney's journal entries, emails, transcripts, narratives, and other techniques, the novel does have a few dry spots -- Weir is a little too inclined to show you his research, a common flaw of your SF writer.  But  Watney's voice is great, and a number of secondary characters are also good, and the plot is compelling. I read the whole thing through in a matter of hours, without stopping.

Plus, great first line.

*White guys/girls (that might as well be guys) with guns on space ships (that might as well be American Naval Ships)  plus rape plus explosions fap fap fap OR ELSE it's a Grimdark Tolkien reboot oh who cares

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