Surviving the Red Planet
I should have written this post some time ago, at the very least a week ago, but then life and confusion that it brings, took over and now I get the time to finally get down to it! If I have said it once, I have said it a million times, science and I are not good friends; in fact we do not have any friendly relation at all; it’s more of one eyeing the other suspiciously and moving along. Unlike History where I am automatically drawn in, science makes me run in the opposite direction. Therefore my adventures in Science Fiction have been very far and extremely few. I was happy in leading life this way until I read Stefanie’s review of Andy Weir’s The Martian and I must confess, against my instinct, against my avowed dislike, I was curious enough to pick up this science fiction.
The Martian begins when NASA astronaut, mechanical engineer and botanist all rolled into one Mark Watney is left stranded on Mars, after his crew mates presumed him for dead, when he was impaled by an antenna blown away in the dust storm, that forces Ares 3 crew to abandon their work and head back to earth. Mark wakes up after a couple of hours and realizes what has transpired; including the fact that all radio communication has been destroyed and NASA has no way of knowing that he lives and to plan a rescue mission. Mark comes to the conclusion that if he wants to make it back to earth, he needs to survive on Mars for four years , when Ares 4 reaches Mars. Thus begins his efforts and endeavors in surviving Mars- from creating water, to potato farming in the Hub, Mark is now to use all his mechanical and botanical skills to survive years. In the meanwhile , via satellite NASA discovers Mars is alive and begin a race against time to plan and execute a rescue mission to get Mark back. When a tear in the canvas of the Hab is breached, collapsing the Hab and destroying Mark’s potato farm, NASA is even more pressurized to turn out a solution quickly or Mark would die of starvation. This is further complicated by the fact that the unmanned probe hastily prepared to send Mark supplies, fails and crashes within minutes of launch. The only option left is to send the Ares 3 crew back through a slingshot trajectory to Mars to get Mark back, potentially endangering the lives of 5 crewman of Ares 3.
While the synopsis sounds kind of gloom and doom and if you have seen the trailer of the film, your idea may be reinforced, (this is why I thinks books should never be made into films…Hollywood messes up good books!) the book is anything but gloom and doom. Written in form of logs that Mark keeps , it is vibrant, humorous and a scientific account of all his adventures on Mars. The books thus contains detail accounts of how to create water, how to maneuver the rover to get across Mars and how to convert water from hydrazine. You see Mark take Mars by the horns and get on the planet’s back to reach the finish line. There is plenty and I do mean plenty of science, but it is easy to understand and simple enough for science zero like me to follow. But its just not science, there is a lot of humor, and it is this humor which sustains the reader through the book, because between science and the incredible plot twists, things to get kind of fuzzy. But Weir handles the whole thing with mastery with nail biting moments and laugh out loud moments all balanced together for a wonderful and brilliant read!
If you have not read the book, read it! I have seen the trailer and trust me regardless of how the movie turns out to be, you have got to read the book. Not reading the book is to truly miss out on something awesome!
Thank you Stefanie, once again for convincing me to read something outside my comfort zone, and guess what…as always, you are so right!!!