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View Full Version : Best Danged Hard SF Novel I've Found in Ages



Tuckerfan
2013-Aug-10, 03:51 AM
(Spoiler free OP.) I am about halfway through it, and am absolutely loving it. Its The Martian by Andy Weir (http://www.amazon.com/The-Martian-Novel-Andy-Weir/dp/0804139024/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1376096843&sr=8-1&keywords=the+martian+andy+weir). (I should point out that its currently only available from Audible, ATM. (http://www.audible.com/search/ref=hp_tseft?advsearchKeywords=the+martian+andy+we ir&filterby=field-keywords&sprefix=the+mart)) Think of it as a cross between Apollo 13 and Castaway. On the sixth day of a manned mission to Mars, the astronauts have to abort the mission and head back to Earth, unfortunately, because of a sandstorm, one of the astronauts is left for dead on Mars.

Mark Watney, the astronaut left behind, is unable to communicate with anyone, and has to figure out how he can survive until the next manned mission is scheduled to land (in four years) and how to reach the area where they will be touching down. On his own, he has to figure out how he's going to have enough food, water, and air to survive that long. It reads very much like early Heinlein, only with more obscenities. (And let's face it, if you regain consciousness on Mars after everyone's left you for dead, the first words out of your mouth are probably going to involve obscenities in various combinations with other words.)

Oh, and unlike Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars series, Weir nails the science. Flat out, freaking nails it. No, this does not bog the story down, it actually enhances the story. When Mark does the calculations of how much food he has, how many calories he needs a day, and how long he has to wait until the next mission arrives, it builds tension, because you realize that it doesn't matter how the math works out, he's got a lot of stuff to worry about, and he's got no one else to rely on for the answers, or to help him with any problems that might crop up.

So far, its an incredible novel, and even if the second half doesn't live up to the first half, it is so good, that the rest of it would have to turn out to be incredibly awful (and I don't see how that's possible) to change my opinion that it isn't worth reading. I really, really, really, really hope that someone picks up the movie rights to this and follows the book closely. There's tons of nail biting sequences which don't rely on anything more than him simply managing to get the jerry rigging right.

I'm kicking myself for not getting this when a friend suggested it to me a few months ago.

KaiYeves
2013-Aug-10, 02:53 PM
It sounds very interesting, please let us know what you think when you've read the whole thing.

publiusr
2013-Aug-10, 05:32 PM
Nah, that was just Zubrin tripping out on Devon island after I laced the brim of his beret with LSD for a contact high. Hey--I thought he was Timothy Leary at first....

Doodler
2013-Aug-10, 06:04 PM
BLARGH!! Went to Amazon.com, checked out the kindle sample, got hooked as heck, and IT'S NOT FOR FRAKKING SALE ON THE KINDLE!! ARRRRGH!! *headdesk-headdesk-headdesk* Off to the bookstore later, I guess.

Buttercup
2013-Aug-10, 06:19 PM
BLARGH!! Went to Amazon.com, checked out the kindle sample, got hooked as heck, and IT'S NOT FOR FRAKKING SALE ON THE KINDLE!! ARRRRGH!! *headdesk-headdesk-headdesk* Off to the bookstore later, I guess.

Yep.

That's why I prefer REAL bookstores.

Kindle, Nook, whatever? Call me in 10 years. :hand:

Tuckerfan
2013-Aug-10, 08:56 PM
It sounds very interesting, please let us know what you think when you've read the whole thing.Just finished it. Did not want the book to end. I have some minor quibbles with bits and pieces here and there, but nothing really worth mentioning. An excellent, excellent book, all the way around.

galacsi
2013-Aug-10, 09:42 PM
A question :Is this a book or an audio book ?

Tuckerfan
2013-Aug-11, 01:08 AM
A question :Is this a book or an audio book ?Currently, its an audiobook, with a dead tree edition due out next year. You can read the web version of the book for free thanks to a Wayback Machine cache of the author's website. (http://web.archive.org/web/20120918232919/http://www.galactanet.com/writing.html) FYI, don't look at the visual aids as they contain spoilers (pretty big ones, too).

stutefish
2013-Aug-11, 08:22 AM
Yep.

That's why I prefer REAL bookstores.

Kindle, Nook, whatever? Call me in 10 years. :hand:

Apparently real bookstores don't have it either, yet.

This isn't an ebook problem, it's an author/publisher problem. Not sure why they decided to publish in audiobook format first. Maybe Random House made them do it?

iquestor
2013-Aug-11, 02:25 PM
Currently, its an audiobook, with a dead tree edition due out next year. You can read the web version of the book for free thanks to a Wayback Machine cache of the author's website. (http://web.archive.org/web/20120918232919/http://www.galactanet.com/writing.html) FYI, don't look at the visual aids as they contain spoilers (pretty big ones, too).

Only the first page link for chapter 1 works; the others I gried (ch21, ch3, ...) are 404 and redirected. :( so its either audible for $14 or wait....

schlaugh
2013-Aug-11, 02:39 PM
Tried chapters at random. Most worked but others erred out.

Tuckerfan
2013-Aug-11, 04:33 PM
At the top of the linked page, there's a selector that allows you to pick different dates for when they copied the site. If you move the date backwards, more of the chapter links work.

caveman1917
2013-Aug-11, 05:50 PM
May 2012 (link (http://web.archive.org/web/20120529121211/http://www.galactanet.com/writing.html)) works for all chapters except the last two (25 and 26) that weren't written yet, for them you can use Tuckerfan's link.

Doodler
2013-Aug-12, 02:59 AM
Book completed, time, approximately three hours. Great read.

Tuckerfan
2013-Aug-14, 09:56 PM
For anyone sitting on the fence about this, I posted the recommendation on another board and a few folks there have dove into it. Here's their responses:


It's not like I needed those 6 hours of sleep anyway...


Read the first three chapters. Yeah, I'm hooked...


<explicative deleted>, it's 3am and I'm still listening to this.

I tend to pickier than those folks when it comes to SF (all of them love the new Trek movies, and I hate them because of the plot holes), so if that helps anyone make up their mind, there you go.

redshifter
2013-Aug-14, 10:32 PM
I look forward to reading this when it's released in book form with pages and everything.

schlaugh
2013-Aug-14, 11:42 PM
I made my own PDF but it was an effort. :)

About halfway through and liking this a LOT.

nosbig5
2013-Aug-21, 06:32 PM
Think of it as a cross between Apollo 13 and Castaway.

Throw McGyver in there for good measure.

A fun and interesting read, thanks for bringing attention to The Martian.

Doodler
2013-Aug-22, 02:02 PM
I thought it was great, myself. I think it went into the "everything that can go wrong, WILL go wrong" well a bit often, but I suppose it has to for the sake of drama. Still, very solid read, and a nice roadmap of every kind of heartburn NASA may ever have about sending people out there.

Grey
2013-Aug-22, 04:57 PM
I was waffling about the audiobook version, but with a link to a written version, I couldn't resist. That was very enjoyable.

galacsi
2013-Aug-22, 07:34 PM
Pfff .. . Finally I shook my lazyness away and made a Pdf. I hope it's worth the effort :D

Tuckerfan
2013-Aug-29, 10:04 PM
Amazon's now showing a Kindle edition will be available. (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0804139024/ref=pe_160490_32180470_email_1p_0_ti)

Chloe79
2013-Aug-30, 11:32 AM
Well written, hard sci-fi is one of my favorite things, so I'll definitely check this out. Right up my street. Thanks for the head's up!

iquestor
2013-Aug-30, 03:08 PM
I just downloaed the audio book; Ill listen over the long weekend. Like the intros I read online, should be good.

iquestor
2013-Sep-03, 01:36 PM
I just downloaed the audio book; Ill listen over the long weekend. Like the intros I read online, should be good.

We are two thirds through the audio version, its awesome!! My kids (17 and 13 yo) and wife both love it!

thanks for the thread, Im sure Ill buy the print version when it comes out in Feb.

iquestor
2013-Sep-08, 03:28 PM
Just finished it .I HIGHLY reccomend the audio book to anyone with a commute or who enjoys audio books. Its well written, cant wait for the print version. Also maybe a movie in its future??

thanks for the heads up on this. it was very enjoyable....

publiusr
2013-Sep-09, 09:10 PM
We already have the Life of Pi, maybe it could be called the Life of Rho..nah!

JohnD
2013-Sep-09, 10:36 PM
Old-time SF can turn up some goodies. An occasional hobby of mine is to look through the SF shelves in my local charity book shop. I occasionally buy a duplicate, but mostly come home with something I haven't read. Turned up two Clifford Simak I hadn't read before, and what a contrast!

To get the worst over quickly and kindly, "Cosmic Engineers" is about as bad as they get. Unless you like your books written like a cheap western crossed with a kids cartoon strip. Stereotyped characters, and ridiculous technology-led plotting. Don't bother trying to read it, I did so you don't have to. The kindest thing to say is that this was very, very early Simak!

The other was "Cemetary World", set on a far-future Earth, where all the Galaxy wants to be buried right here. The rest of the Earth has returned to nature, but there may be another presence there, and a 'quest'. The plot is thin but the execution and the protagonists well drawn, in fact I got the impression that CS might have been thinking of a sequel, there were so many themes left hanging at the end. But no, there isn't a sequel. Don't be confused by "Cemetary Earth" (a popular pop combo, M'Lord) or "Cemetary Planet" an SF series written by someone I have never heard of, with a very high opinion of himself, or any other similar product. Definitely worth a buy at the pocket-money prices of charity book shops, and all to a good cause, too!

John

KlausH
2013-Nov-14, 12:41 PM
I just wanted to thank Tuckerfan for bringing this book to my attention.
I read the thread during my lurking-only time, hence my late response.

This was a real page turner. Well written and very well researched.
The only point of criticism I had was that would I have liked more exploration of the psychological and philosophical aspects of his situation.
I understand that he'd want to focus on the immediate survival needs but there was plenty of idle time as well and I find it hard to imagine that one would not contemplate those aspects...

Anyways, thanks for starting the thread!

jokergirl
2013-Nov-15, 10:17 AM
(I know this is thread necromancy, but I only saw it now) I took a look inside on Amazon and it hooked me. I do like a good Robinsoneade[tm]. Will probably get it when it comes out on kindle.

I'm also having fun picking out things that I expect will not work as expected in the bit that I read so far; but who knows, they might pop up again later. We'll see. :)

;)

Tuckerfan
2014-Jan-30, 02:22 AM
A bump to remind folks that this hits dead tree and Kindle in less than two weeks.

Hal37214
2014-Feb-10, 06:39 PM
Just noticed a review posted on the Onion AV Club:

http://www.avclub.com/review/the-martian-makes-the-tale-of-an-engineer-stranded-201074


Sent from my SCH-I535 using Tapatalk

Extravoice
2014-Feb-10, 07:32 PM
Nice, this is going to be released just prior to my cross-country flight to the home office.
It looks like I'll actually have something worth reading on the flight.

KaiYeves
2014-Feb-10, 09:33 PM
Interesting, I'll look for this at the local bookstores...

Cougar
2014-Feb-10, 09:57 PM
I noticed this recommendation back in August. Then a week or so ago, I saw the sci-fi novel Mars by Ben Bova at the library and picked it up. Wait a minute - my memory is defective! This book is different than the one in the OP! Oh well, it's a good one, too! (I recognized Bova's name from another of his books I read - nonfiction! In Quest of Quasars, An Introduction to Stars and Starlike Objects [1969].)

PetersCreek
2014-Feb-10, 10:14 PM
This thread couldn't have been resurrected at a better time. I've been looking for another title to read. Just pre-ordered my e-copy.

Tuckerfan
2014-Feb-10, 11:55 PM
It drops tomorrow.

PetersCreek
2014-Feb-11, 12:00 AM
Yep, at both Amazon and B&N.

Extravoice
2014-Feb-11, 02:25 PM
The book is now available on Amazon, both in print and Kindle. That surprised me a little, since I thought they said that the Kindle version was going to be available later in the week.

I just grabbed my Kindle sample. :) If it is nearly as good as the reviews indicate, I'll fork over the $10 before my flight to the west coast.

Extravoice
2014-Feb-12, 02:12 PM
I've started a thread in "Small Media" where folks can discuss the book.

Hopefully, this link (http://cosmoquest.org/forum/showthread.php?149259-quot-The-Martian-quot-by-Andy-Weir-Spoilers&p=2193221#post2193221) will take you directly there.

Tuckerfan
2014-Feb-13, 12:28 AM
Buried in this review of the book and another is this tasty little tidbit of information: (http://grantland.com/hollywood-prospectus/february-book-recommendations-man-vs-science-fiction/)
[T]he film rights have been acquired

schlaugh
2014-Feb-13, 03:05 AM
Next question; will any studio actually make the film? Given contemporary production capabilities, it could be far better than the old Robinson Crusoe on Mars (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0058530/). Even that movie was fair (bad science not withstanding).

Tuckerfan
2014-Feb-13, 10:38 AM
If Gravity takes the Oscars, then I think that there's a good chance it'll get made. How badly Follywood screws it up is another matter.

Gemini
2014-Feb-15, 02:47 AM
Picked up a copy this afternoon. Just heads-up for those who plan to read it, there's some colorful language.

Extravoice
2014-Feb-21, 11:16 PM
I just finished the book, and if I'm ever stuck in an apparently hopeless situation, I'm just going to ask myself "WWWD?"
(What Would Watney Do?) ;)

Tuckerfan
2014-Feb-22, 12:33 AM
*BAM! #12 on the NYT bestsellers list! (http://www.nytimes.com/best-sellers-books/2014-03-02/hardcover-fiction/list.html) I'm thinking that the push for a film adaptation just hit high gear.

Gemini
2014-Feb-22, 02:35 AM
I've just finished the book; it's been an exciting ride!

DaveC426913
2014-Feb-27, 01:05 AM
Saw this thread, downloaded book (now that it's available in e-format). Loved it.

Tuckerfan
2014-Mar-04, 01:13 AM
The author gives a talk at Google about the book.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMfuLtjgzA8&amp;feature=player_embedded

Oh, and since "Gravity" took 7 Oscars last night, I'm thinking the folks working on the film version just kicked things into high gear.