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Aug
18th
2018

My Thoughts — The Martian, double feature · 11:03pm Aug 18th, 2018

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?

TL: DR: Robinson Crusoe - IN SPACE~!!!

More behind the cut. Minor spoilers for book & movie.


Jokes aside, couldn’t in part help but feel I’ve read this book already back in third-grade, this time with 10 000% extra nerdiness, potatoes and dust, but it’s a good read.

There’s some cool science in here (most of it not even outdated yet!), with a minimum of fudging the math for drama’s sake, and some genuine humanity you don’t often see in sci-fi. You really start to care about this hapless dork, and how he’s ‘sciencing this shit up the wazoo’ to survive such a hostile environment as the dry, cold, dusty Mars.

And I don’t think you can overstate how Mark Whitney (Names that mean ‘Dedicated to Mars,’ ‘White Island,’ by the way. Heh, cute.) is the most important bit about this book.

He’s clever, snarky, genuinely funny, hard-working…

And, also, clearly joking so much because he’s smart enough to grasp just how utterly boned his chances of survival are ALONE ON MARS, and if he doesn’t do the humor thing he’ll die gibbering in a corner.

And not only does it add a lot of humanity to the book, but so many sci-fi protagonists are utterly unflappable in the face of danger so it felt very refreshing. Same thing with there being no real antagonist other then the bone-hardly unbending physics.

However…

This is sadly one of those books that simply doesn’t have a clue what to do with act 2, and it’s nearly as dehydrated as the surface of Mars. There’s this huge hump in the middle where Mark just feels way too safe. To settled in.

Now, it does get better. Much better, even. I outright devoured the first few hundred pages, and the final few hundred over a day or two combined, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t wag a big finger at those 150-200 pages in the middle that made this book just sit there on my desk for nearly a month.

(Got an almost 600 pages, big-print version by mistake, if anybody just did a double take on those figures. Just FYI, but to my understanding the actual content is exactly the same.)

Also, since so much of this book takes the form of log-pages and coms transcripts, I did start to feel a bit cheated on the whole Mars aspect towards the end. Like, the hostility of the whole place comes across fine, but I’m not even sure if the book mentioned the whole being red thing. that’s how much much this book leans on 99,99% of everybody having stayed awake during at least one astronomy lesson to already know what Mars basically looks like.

Technically, nothing wrong with that, it’s a preference thing, but would have really liked a few more ‘vistas,’ you know? Or just a few more scenes where Mark describes what a mind-boggling feeling it is to have seeing Mars start to feel dull, and such.


Now, on to the movie.

It was really, really good. A quite decent adaptation, even, with only a few glaring changes, and things that got left out.

(Watched the ‘vanilla’ version, by the way. Can’t speak for the extended cut, but just thought I’d mention that I’m aware it exist, and that I’m actually hoping to track it down.)

Great actors, great set-design, marvelous effects, and enough rust-red scenery-porn you almost think the LotR trilogy got put through a crimson filter.

Matt Damon especially did a great performance as Mark Whitney. Really sold how Mark felt at several key-moments with just facial expressions and body-language. Kudos. Really made me get why even the film-folk made some buzz about a sci-fi movie for once.

I’d highly recommend it. Even if you haven’t read the book, there’s a lot of stuff here to enjoy for a sci-fi fan.


In conclusion:

Overall, I enjoyed the book more, but as I said, it did grew quite comfy on my desk for a bit. It’s a bumpy ride in spots, but I do genuinely feel I got more out of this version and that at some point I’m going to gladly re-read it.

The movie, in contrast, is a much smoother ride, for both good and ill. You don’t get those lulls, but some of the bigger thrills are missing too, and it does suffer just a bit for being a more straight-forward story.

But, honestly, both are great. Highly, highly recommended.

Comments ( 9 )

Bob was there, too.

...Jokes aside few of you will get aside, man, Andy Weir's come far. Good for him.

Those potatoes would be the death of him.

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4922465

To be fair, we only learned about the 'Martian soil is DEATH' thing after the book was published. Again, as I mentioned, some of the stuff in the book is already outdated.

Heck, the two areas in the book that are flat & hilly? We now know the book got it the wrong way around, because the book gave NASA incentive to (metaphorically) go check them out a bit closer. Props where it is due, and all that.

The only part I had a real problem was the calorie counts being way, way too low for an astronaut, let alone one stuck doing everything like Whitney was...

But hey, errors happen. Maybe I'm going too easy on the book, but given how few stories even try the level of scientific hardness The Martian did, I'm personally happy that it at least tried.

4922497
Well, like MatPat said, that bit about the calories WOULD be the case... IF he were on Earth. But he's on Mars, with like 1/3 of the gravity. Give him some mutivites and he's golden.

And he explains away the Perchlorate thing too, in case you hadn't noticed. :twilightsheepish:

4922509

I'll grant the 1/3's gravity, and that we simply don't know how that will effect a person's metabolism... But honestly, I'll freely admit that there's a lot of room for debate in those numbers.

But I must admit that I think both the book and movie really pushed it's luck by low-balling the figures too much. The movie in particular with those tiny, tiny potato servings.

4922509
But, doesn't the brain take up 70% of the energy we use? Even if we assume the other 30% went purely into movement, if the 1/3 gravity equally scales with the energy needed to move, which it probably doesn't, then that's only 20% less energy needed. Even then , we still need energy for things like digestion, which gravity wouldn't affect, and other necessary things the body does. So the impact would probably be negligible.

I probably messed something up along the way, tell me if I did, I would appreciate it. Thanks!

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4922552

I'm fairly sure most of you've seen this already since it keeps popping up in the feature box, but for the record I realized I forgot to give a shout-out to The Maretian.

In a nut-shell, The Martian, but with some ponies, a dragon and a changeling also getting stuck on Mars as the same time as Whitney.

Way, way better then it sounds. Also highly recommended, doubly so if the original left you wanting for more.

4922857
Yeah, I know. I saw your shout out, I've been following it since Sol 34.
It's pretty awesome.

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