So I just finished The Martian: A Novel, by Andy Weir. I’ve gotta say, it was pretty fantastic. Though it has a distinct air of Gravity to it, the Martian seems to much more thought out in terms of plausibility and reality (though some parts are a bit of a stretch). Realistically, if you strip away the plot and try to find a super deep meaning in the book, you probably won’t really find one. The great thing, though, is it doesn’t feel like it needs one. It doesn’t even feel like you’re reading a book. When you read, it’s as if you’re really reading the log entries of a real guy who’s still stranded on Mars! At one point I got so into it, in the middle of my day I thought, I wonder how Mark Watney is holding up on Mars. In fact, I almost went to CNN.com for a Mark Watney Report.
The book is incredibly well researched. Apparently, Weir even built a program to track orbital trajectories and calculated the trajectories from the book himself. Heck, I’ll just quote him on how it’s based in real life, this direct from his website:
The basic structure of the Mars program in the book is very similar to a plan called “Mars Direct” (though I made changes here and there). It’s the most likely way that we will have our first Mars mission in real life. All the facts about Mars are accurate, as well as the physics of space travel the story presents. I even calculated the various orbital paths involved in the story, which required me to write my own software to track constant-thrust trajectories.
And you can tell, trust me, I’m a geek. I’m the kind of geek that watches the Nasa and Roscosmos Youtube Channels for updates on space missions and checks the SpaceX blog for updates. Honestly, after watching all those channels and reading a lot about NASA and the space programs, I felt like I was just getting updates from them on a real mission going on. I found my mind drifting to what it must be like for Mark Watney, looking out on the dunes of Mars, struggling to MacGyver a solution together to survive. According to the wiki, though I’ll soon be able to relive the book in a Ridley Scott produced movie, which would be awesome. If you like space, sci-fi, or anything to do with orbital mechanics and space exploration really, you should totally read this book. Also, if you’re at NASA (or SpaceX) and planning a Mars mission, you should probably read this book to make sure you plan against anything like this book happening.