***** The Martian by Andy Weir

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Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills — and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit — he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

The Martian is a book that I love to re-read. We all have one of those. For a novel that is about a man stuck alone on a remote planet, it never veers into existential angst. It’s light, it’s fun, and most of all, it’s inspiring and motivating.

I got into sci-fi through star wars fanfiction and star trek the original series, because what I love most about space stories is competent people working together to solve problems in creative ways, and this « never give in, never surrender! » attitude to survival. In a sci-fi landscape increasingly populated by gritty, macho (and boring) franchises, a story about a dude eating a million potatoes and getting sick of disco is exactly what I need. The Martian is the Good Omens of sci-fi, in that it takes concepts that could be really dark and makes them into literary comfort food.

To those who haven’t heard of the book yet, or seen the excellent film, don’t be fooled by the very serious blurb of the book. Yes, everything about it is true. Mark Watney is in a lot of troubles, and needs to overcome a ton of obstacles like not starving to death and also finding a way off Mars. But at no point in the book was I truly worried for him. It just seemed like the sort of novel that would end well, and so I could just lay back, watch the terrible bad luck unfold, and tell myself « wow, what extreme DIY will Mark come up with to fix THAT? ». And every time, the answer delighted me.

All in all, this book is a very fun read, and the light and informal tone of the narration makes it even better. A+, will definitely re-read five hundred more times.

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