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The Martian by Andy Weir: A Book Review

I'm pretty much fucked. That's the opening line to Andy Weir's debut novel The Martian. How could you not be hooked after that?

The Martian is a tale of a man's survival on Mars. He's the only human on Mars after he is left for dead by his crew, and for all we know the only life form that exists on the planet. It's a sick situation that author Andy Weir thought of just because; he loves to run through certain space survival scenarios in his spare time. Some would call that nerdy, but I think it is brilliance. NASA should hire him as a consultant for the first manned mission to Mars.

The main character is Mark Watney. I liken his personality to Val Kilmer's Robby Gallagher from the movie Red Planet. Even though that movie sucked, Kilmer played a solid role and brought a sense of humor to a sometimes very drab cast of characters.

Weir was just showing off with Watney's wit. At one point in the novel, he has such a humorous take that he describes a kilowatt-hour per sol as a 'pirate ninja'. Here's the quote: "You know what? "Kilowatt-hour per sol" is a pain in the ass to say. I'm gonna invent a new scientific unit name. One kilowatt-hour per sol is...it can be anything...um...I suck at this...I'll call it a "pirate-ninja". This is what he thinks of while the likelihood of him surviving Martian sand storms, mechanical failures, unbeatable odds, and just being 140 million miles from Earth.

I have been a longtime science fiction reader. Even I succumb to bouts of confusion when reading some sci-fi writers. They can be far too advanced and lose me while drowning in the science of their idea. Andy Weir presents a lot of science in this book. And you know what...it's not overwhelming. I actually understood it all. It was almost as if he was teaching it to me while telling the story. There weren't any extra details in there that I didn't need to know. He was Picasso painting Watney's messed up situation, and by the end of the book I was smarter for it. The casual reader that doesn't delve into the sci-fi genre will even enjoy this book. It really is for anyone. It has also been well documented that Weir consulted with renowned astronauts, theorists, physicists, etc. to present correct science.

You can imagine how excited I was when I heard the book rights for a movie were sold and they were filming for a 2015 release. What didn't excite me was Matt Damon landing the lead role as Mark Watney. I do like Matt Damon, but I'm not sure he could deliver the amusing and entertaining personality of Watney. The trailer did alleviate some of my fears as Damon is phenomenal at delivering the tough and dramatic setting that Watney is thrust into.

I highly recommend that you read the book first. Wow, that's some real insight there. The movie is always worse than the book, right? Either way, pick up the book and support the author. He is super talented and will be the new face of science fiction for years to come.

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