Saturday, June 27, 2015

No technical difficulties

It's all Randall Munroe's fault that I read The Martian. Not that it's a fault really, considering that I enjoyed reading it and would happily recommend it to a select group of people. It's just that, well, I sort of wanted WAY more of the book than I got.

If you're not into pretty significantly geeky books you probably aren't going to like this book. It's a story about an astronaut stranded on Mars who has to figure out how to survive for years with supplies intended for a month-long stay. He kludges things together and shits in boxes and listens to disco and makes mistakes and I seriously had way too much fun reading this odd novel.

A bunch of people online criticized the book for being too tedious, for talking too much about potatoes, and for being too technical. I won't go so far as to say that those people are idiots, but I will say that if you're reading a sci-fi book about astronauts you should maybe expect some technical stuff because humans don't get into space via magic, we do it via carefully controlled explosions and sometimes you need to read three pages about how load balance is important to controlling those explosions to understand why a launch fucked up. Hey, just be glad you don't work for NASA - they have to read THOUSANDS of pages about load balance if a launch fucks up. And also if you're reading technical information about explosions or Mars rovers or growing ferns in a goddamned spaceship and you DON'T think that's awesome or want to know how it works I'm not sure that we can be friends.

The book is also pretty funny - I'm seeing a lot of people refer to it as "gallows humor" but I think you can just safely call it humor. We're all dying, you might as well laugh about it because there's no way you can stop it. Mark Watney, the astronaut who is central to the story, gets that.

Anyway, if you're into technical books that are full of silly puns and tension over the fact that an entire planet is attempting to murder the protagonist then The Martian is for you! If you're not into those things I feel pretty bad for you but you should read The Martian anyway; it goes by pretty quickly and maybe it will make you like awesome things more.

     - Alli

Weir, Andy. The Martian. Broadway Books. New York: New York. 2014. (2011).

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