Mark Watney is the lowest ranking astronaut on the crew of the Ares Program’s third mission to Mars. Less than a week into a month long mission on the surface of the red planet, a vicious sandstorm roars across the Martian terrain surrounding the Habitation quarters, damaging the communications network and placing the entire crew, and mission, in jeopardy.
Fearing the crew may end up stranded on Mars, Houston Mission Control orders an evacuation off of the surface of the planet, and has the crew abandon the mission and return home to Earth. As the crew fight their way through the storm to the space vehicle that will transport them off of the isolated planet, Mark Watney is involved in a near-fatal accident.
With the biological sensor on Watney’s spacesuit declaring him dead, there’s nothing the rest of the crew can do but flee to safety on the Hermes, abandoning their colleague to his unfortunate fate. However, Mark Watney doesn’t die that day, through a sheer stroke of luck he survives, only to discover that he is all alone on Mars with no way to communicate with either his crew on the Hermes, or mission control on Earth.
The Martian is a story of survival against all odds, as a lone man becomes the very first human to colonise Mars. Mark must find a way to adapt to his new surroundings, while waiting patiently for either rescue or eventual death. Will Mark ever return home, or will it be his fate to die on Martian soil after all?
There is a LOT of rather technical scientific facts within The Martian’s 369 pages, but don’t let that put you off reading this fantastic story of survival, as it contains some nice comedy quips to make you laugh and help tone down the seriousness and isolation of the situation.
We follow Mark Watney’s personal log as he attempts to remain upbeat despite facing impending death and an utterly hopeless scenario. He uses both his engineering and botany skills to persevere and problem solve in order to stay alive on the harsh and unforgiving terrain of Mars, although no matter how hard he tries the red planet continually attempts to kill him and sap his morale.
If you don’t mind the first person narrative, and can look past the slightly complex but well researched science jargon, The Martian is a very engaging read at 5 out of 5 stars, well worth all the hype that surrounded its transformation onto the big screen.
Andy Weir’s The Martian has also been adapted into a major motion picture from Twentieth Century Fox and Ridley Scott, starring Matt Damon, and Sean Bean.
The film can be a little slow in places, but draws on the viewer’s intrinsic fear of loneliness and isolation and is definitely one of those ‘must see at least once’ type movies.