😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
After an accident during a dust storm, Mark Watney finds himself alone on Mars. His colleagues in the Ares 3 expedition believed he was dead and were forced to evacuate the planet while they still could. The communications system was broken in the storm so Mark can’t let anyone know he’s alive. And it’s four years till the next scheduled mission to Mars. Fortunately Mark has a few things going for him. He’s an engineer and a botanist, there’s quite a lot of equipment left over from the mission including the Hab – the living quarters complete with atmospheric and water reclamation equipment – and, perhaps most importantly, he has twelve potatoes. And most of all he has the determination to survive…
It died instantly. The screen went black before I was out of the Airlock. Turns out the “L” in “LCD” stands for “Liquid”. I guess it either froze or boiled off. Maybe I’ll post a consumer review. “Brought product to surface of Mars. It stopped working. 0/10.”
This is a fantastic adventure story set in the near future. It only just scrapes into the sci-fi category since all the science and equipment is pretty much stuff that’s available now – and though it’s chock full of science and technology, it’s presented in a way that makes it not just interesting but fun. Mark is a hero of the old school – he just decides to get on with things and doesn’t waste time angsting or philosophising. And he’s got a great sense of humour which keeps the whole thing deliciously light-hearted. It reminded me of the way old-time adventure stories were written – the Challenger books or the Quatermain stories mixed with a generous dash of HG Wells – but brought bang up to date in terms of language and setting. And although Mark is heroic, he’s a believable hero – he’s a NASA-trained astronaut with a scientific background, so it’s easy to accept that he knows how to make stuff work and also to believe that he is psychologically and physically equipped to deal with this kind of extreme situation.
If I could have anything, it would be a radio to ask NASA the safe path down the Ramp. Well, if I could have anything, it would be for the green-skinned yet beautiful Queen of Mars to rescue me so she can learn more about this Earth thing called “lovemaking”.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a woman. Just sayin’.
As the book progresses we also get to meet the people in mission control and Mark’s erstwhile colleagues on the space-ship. Again, although they are shocked by what has happened, they show their professionalism by just focussing on finding a solution, reacting to each new development as it happens. So refreshing to not have to spend hours and hours reading about how they felt! There’s a place for that in fiction obviously, but sometimes there’s a place for a rollicking good roller-coaster of an adventure yarn too – and that’s what this is.
When a book becomes a huge runaway bestseller, there’s always the fear that it can’t live up to the hype. Fear not! This one certainly does! It started out as a self-published book which sold in the zillions, has now gone on to be traditionally published, and the film rights have already been bought up. Well written, though not at all literary; great characterisation in the tradition of the heroes of Star Trek, Buchan et al; enough science and stuff to satisfy the geekiest geek but explained simply and humorously enough for us technophobes to understand – and a brilliantly depicted setting on the surface of Mars. All the best sci-fi comes from Mars and this is a new one to add to that illustrious list. Put it on your TBR!
NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Random House Ebury.