“The Martian” is a New York Times best seller written by first time author, Andy Weir. The science fiction novel is set in a near-future, manned expedition to Mars. The story begins with astronaut Mark Watney alone, trapped and presumed dead when the rest of his crew is forced to abandon the red planet due to a major storm. Watney is injured in an accident causing the rest of the crew to assume he was killed. While the fortunate astronaut survives the initial mishaps, he is now isolated, out of communication with earth and without adequate supplies to survive the four year interval until the next planned mission to Mars.
While Mark Watney’s prospects are bleak, his survival instincts are strong. Rather than give in to his hopeless situation, the stranded astronaut uses his skill and wit to confront the challenges before him. Lacking even the basic necessities like food and water, Watney must improvise and adapt to provide for himself.
The novel is primarily told in first-person, from the perspective of the main character. The author handles the narration skillfully and manages to keep the reader engaged with good pacing and the right balance of action and humor. Mark Watney is likeable and self-deprecating. The humorous inner dialog of the protagonist balances the grim tension of his untenable circumstances, and keeps the reader invested in his fate.
The author’s scientific credibility also shows. The science is based in real world technology and represents the current possibilities for a manned mission to Mars. The author presents the science in a way that is interesting and believable, but not overbearing. Fans of hard science fiction will enjoy this feature of the novel, but neophytes will not be lost by it.
“The Martian” is an enjoyable and accessible read for fans of science fiction, but general audiences will also enjoy the survival story.
This review of “The Martian” is based on the paperback version available from Broadway books. A film adaptation is currently in production.