If you haven’t read The Martian, you have two weeks until the movie premiere. After, the movie is out, I cannot guarantee that someone won’t spoil the story. I don’t want that for you. The Martian is unexpected and is best consumed without all the clutter of commentary.
That being said, there are a few things I’d like to comment on, all without spoiling the ending. Some things are sacred. Here are a few reasons why The Martian should be at the top of your reading list.
The First Sentence
The Martian is the story of Mark Watney, a man who gets stranded on Mars. The first line of the novel is exactly what you would say the moment you realized you were stranded on Mars (with varying degrees of profanity.)
The Fictional Hangover is Gratifying
After you finish a story, there is the dust cloud that looms. Your days are colored by the lens of the words the author writes in your mind. Sometimes, the hangover of a book makes you feel like Tina Fey and sometimes it makes you feel like a dirty methed-up lunatic. The Martian leaves you feeling like math is easy! Humans are meant to explore and science is there to guide them. I even found myself conserving calories, for fear that I would soon run out of nourishment. Unlike most hangovers, this one I never wanted to end.
The Movie Shouldn’t Disappoint
Isn’t it funny that one of the best scenes in Apollo 13 doesn’t feature Tom Hanks? The resourcefulness of the
crew on the ground who have to figure out how to get a square peg in a round hole is cinematic gold. There is a lot of opportunity for this type of scene in The Martian. The source material also offers other wonderful moments of comedy, exploration and loneliness. It will be a wonderful hybrid between finding the humor in sad situations, like Office Space, the wonderful freeing feeling of a journey, like Wild and our innate reaction loneliness like Cast Away. (The Martian is like a space Cast Away without stupid Wilson and his unfazed expressions.)
This is a literary debut that can’t be replicated.
The story about how Andy Weir’s first novel got published is perfect. He wrote the novel just for a few thousand people that read his stories online. He emphasized the science because he knew that he wasn’t writing for the masses so he wrote how he wanted. (I akin this to the comparison between how you dance in public and how you dance in private when your jam comes on. There is an undeniable difference and I’m sure one makes you more happy.) Eventually, more and more people were sharing and discussing the story until the contagious excitement for the book caught on like wildfire. You can’t manufacture that kind of publicity.
As I reflect on how many people I’ve asked if they’ve read the book, I’m a little ashamed. I have been desperately searching for this conversation. Fourth Grade Megan, who went to space camp, needs to talk about the HAV, the dramatic countdowns, the space travel and the science of it all. I feel all alone with no one to talk to. I need to communicate and it feels like am stranded on a lonely red planet.