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Monday, February 22, 2016

Grice's Martians


The Martian: A Novel
The Martian 2014.jpg
2014 hardcover edition cover
AuthorAndy Weir
Cover artistEric White
CountryUnited States
GenreScience fiction
PublishedFebruary 2014 (Crown)
Media typePrint, e-bookaudio
LC ClassPS3623.E446 M37 2014
The Martian is a 2011 science fiction novel written by Andy Weir. It was his debut novel under his own name.[a] It was originally self-published in 2011; Crown Publishing purchased the rights and re-released it in 2014. The story follows an American astronaut, Mark Watney, as he becomes stranded alone on Mars in the year 2035[1] and must improvise in order to survive.[2][3][4] The Martian, a film adaptation directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon, was released in October 2015.[5]

Plot summary[edit]

Mark Watney's route on Mars
NASA astronaut Mark Watney, a botanist and mechanical engineer, has been left stranded on Mars after the crew of the Ares 3 mission were forced to evacuate their landing site in Acidalia Planitia due to an intense dust storm with high winds. Watney was impaled by an antenna during the evacuation and believed dead. His injury proves relatively minor, but with no way to contact Earth, Watney must rely on his own resourcefulness to survive. He begins a log of his experiences for those who might discover it long after his death. Watney begins growing potatoes in the crew's Martian habitat (or Hab) and burns hydrazine to make water. NASA discovers that he is alive when satellite images of the landing site show evidence of his activities; they begin working on ways to rescue him, but withhold the news of his survival from the rest of the Ares 3 crew, on their way back to Earth aboard the Hermes spacecraft, so as not to distract them.
Seeing it as his only chance at rescue, Watney plans to drive 3,200 kilometres (2,000 mi) to Schiaparelli craterwhere a subsequent mission, Ares 4, will land in four years. He begins modifying one of Ares 3's rovers for the journey, adding solar cells and an additional battery. He makes a three-week test drive to recover the unmanned Pathfinder lander and Sojourner rover and brings them back with him to the Hab, allowing him to contact Earth. Mitch Henderson, the Ares 3 flight director, convinces NASA Administrator Teddy Sanders to allow him to inform the Ares 3 crew of Watney's survival; his crewmates are thrilled, except for Melissa Lewis, the commander, who is guilt-stricken at leaving him behind.
The canvas at one of the Hab airlocks tears due to Watney's ongoing use of it, collapsing the Hab and nearly killing Watney. He repairs the Hab, but his plants are dead, threatening him again with starvation. Setting aside safety protocols, NASA hastily prepares an unmanned probe to send Watney supplies, but the probe's rocket disintegrates on liftoff. A deal with the China National Space Administration provides a ready booster to try again, but with no time to build a probe with a soft-landing system, NASA is faced with the unlikely prospect of building one whose cargo will survive crashing into the Martian surface at 300 meters per second (671 MPH). Meanwhile, astrodynamicist Rich Purnell has devised a "slingshot" trajectory that could get Hermes and the Ares 3 crew back to Mars on a much-extended mission to save Watney, using the Chinese rocket to send a simpler resupply probe to Hermes as it passes Earth. Sanders vetoes the "Rich Purnell Maneuver" as involving too much risk for the other crewmembers, but Henderson secretly emails the maneuver to Hermes. All five of Watney's crewmates agree to the plan, and once they begin the maneuver, NASA is compelled to send them the supply ship to prevent their starvation.
Watney resumes modifying the rover, since the new rescue plan requires him to lift off from Mars in the Ares 4 mission's Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV), which is already at Schiaparelli Crater as part of the long preparations for that visit. While working on the rover, Watney accidentally shorts out the electronics of Pathfinder, again losing the ability to communicate with Earth (except for spelling out Morse code with rocks). The resupply probe launches and docks with Hermes successfully. As Watney prepares to leave for Schiaparelli, NASA discovers that a dust storm is approaching Watney's course, potentially stranding him on the journey if the rover's solar cells cannot recharge, but has no way to warn him. While crossing Arabia Terra, Watney becomes aware of the encroaching dust storm and improvises a rough measurement of the direction of its movement, allowing him to go around it.
Surviving a rover rollover on his descent into Schiaparelli, Watney reaches the MAV and reestablishes contact with NASA. He receives instructions on the radical modifications to the MAV that are necessary to reduce its weight and allow it to intercept Hermes during its flyby. The modifications leave a large hole in the front of the MAV, which Watney is directed to cover with Hab canvas. During launch, the canvas patch tears, slowing the liftoff and leaving the MAV on a course too far from the Hermes for Watney to be rescued. Lewis develops a plan to intercept the MAV by firing Hermes' attitude thrusters, then slowing down to match the MAV's velocity by blowing a hole in the Hermes front airlock with an improvised sugar-and-liquid-oxygen bomb. A crewman on a tether uses a Manned Maneuvering Unit to reach Watney aboard the MAV and carry him back to Hermes. In a final log entry, Watney expresses his joy at being rescued, reflecting on the human instinct to help those in need.

Publishing history[edit]

Author Andy Weir at Johnson Space Center, 2015
Andy Weir, the son of a particle physicist, has a background in computer science. He began writing the book in 2009, researching related material so that it would be as realistic as possible and based on existing technology.[6] Weir studied orbital mechanics, astronomy, and the history of manned spaceflight.[7] He said he knows the exact date of each day in the book.[8]
Having been rebuffed by literary agents when trying to get prior books published, Weir decided to put the book online in serial format one chapter at a time for free at his website.[6] At the request of fans, he made an Amazon Kindle version available at 99 cents (the minimum he could set the price).[6] The Kindle edition rose to the top of Amazon's list of best-selling science-fiction titles, where it sold 35,000 copies in three months, more than had been previously downloaded free.[6][8] This garnered the attention of publishers: Podium Publishing, an audiobook publisher, signed for the audiobook rights in January 2013. Weir sold the print rights to Crown in March 2013 for over US$100,000.[6]
The book debuted on the New York Times Best Seller list on March 2, 2014 in the hardcover fiction category at twelfth position.[9]


The Martian was published in print by Crown on February 11, 2014. An audiobook edition, narrated by RC Bray and released by Podium Publishing, preceded the print release in March 2013 onAudible.com, and later followed on MP3 CD in association with Brilliance Audio. The audiobook was nominated and won an Audie Award (2014) in the Science Fiction category.


In a starred review, Publishers Weekly said that "Weir laces the technical details with enough keen wit to satisfy hard science fiction fan and general reader alike."[10] Kirkus Reviews called The Martian "Sharp, funny and thrilling, with just the right amount of geekery."[11] The Wall Street Journal called the book "the best pure sci-fi novel in years."[2] Entertainment Weekly gave the novel a grade of "B", describing it as "an impressively geeky debut novel" but saying Weir "stumbles with his secondary characters".[4] USA Today rated The Martian three out of four stars, calling it "terrific stuff, a crackling good read" but noting that "Mark's unflappability, perhaps the book's biggest asset, is also its greatest weakness. He's a wiseacre with a tendency to steer well clear of existential matters."[12] Amazing Stories commented, "Andy Weir's The Martian will leave you as breathless as if you'd been dropped on the Martian surface without a suit".[13]

Awards and honors[edit]

The Japanese translation of the novel won the Seiun Award for Best Translated Long Story in 2015.[14]

Film adaptation[edit]

Main article: The Martian (film)
In March 2013, Twentieth Century Fox optioned the film rights, and hired screenwriter Drew Goddard to adapt and direct the film.[6][15] In May 2014, it was reported that Ridley Scott was in negotiations to direct an adaptation that would star Matt Damon as Mark Watney.[16] On September 3, 2014, Jessica Chastain joined the film as Commander Lewis.[17] The cast also includesChiwetel EjioforKristen WiigKate MaraSebastian StanMichael PeñaMackenzie DavisJeff DanielsSean BeanDonald Glover, and Aksel Hennie.[18] The film was released on October 2, 2015.[19]
On December 5, 2014, the Orion spacecraft took the cover page of The Martian script on the first test flight of the unmanned Exploration Flight Test 1 (EFT-1). The script was launched atop aDelta IV on the flight lasting 4 hours and 24 minutes, landing at its target in the Pacific Ocean.[20]
In October 2015, NASA presented a new web tool to follow Watney's trek across Mars,[21] and details of NASA's next steps, as well as a health hazards report,[22][23] for a real-world human journey to Mars.[24][25][26]

See also[edit]


  1. Jump up^ Weir wrote a novel before this called Theft of Pride under the pen-name "Jack Sharp" which was released on the web for free.


  1. Jump up^ Weir, Andy (January 5, 2015). "FaceBook - Andy Weir's Page - Timeline Photos (comment)"Facebook. RetrievedNovember 16, 2015. "Ares 3 launched on July 7, 2035. They landed on Mars (Sol 1) on November 7, 2035. The story begins on Sol 6, which is November 12, 2035." - Andy Weir
  2. Jump up to:a b Shippey, Tom (February 7, 2014). "Book Review: 'The Martian' by Andy Weir; 'Red Rising' by Pierce Brown"Wall Street Journal. Retrieved February 16, 2014.
  3. Jump up^ Ayres, Jeff (February 11, 2014). "Andy Weir delivers with ‘The Martian’"Associated Press (via Yahoo). RetrievedFebruary 16, 2014.
  4. Jump up to:a b Catucci, Nick (February 12, 2014). "The Martian (2014)"Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 28, 2014.
  5. Jump up^ "Fox Moves Ridley Scott's 'The Martian' to October". June 10, 2015. Retrieved June 10, 2015.
  6. Jump up to:a b c d e f Alter, Alexandra (February 14, 2014). "A Survival Guide to Mars"Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 28,2014.
  7. Jump up^ Flatow, Ira (February 14, 2014). "Andy Weir: ‘The Martian’"Science Friday. Retrieved March 28, 2014.
  8. Jump up to:a b "The Martian"Skepticality. Retrieved 5 March 2015.
  9. Jump up^ "Best Sellers: HARDCOVER FICTION"The New York Times. March 2, 2014. Retrieved 21 February 2014.
  10. Jump up^ "Fiction Book Review: The Martian by Andy Weir".Publishers Weekly. November 25, 2013. Retrieved April 24,2014.
  11. Jump up^ "THE MARTIAN by Andy Weir"Kirkus Reviews. December 8, 2013. Retrieved March 28, 2014.
  12. Jump up^ Nance, Kevin (February 17, 2014). "Astronaut is lost in space in thrilling 'Martian'"USA Today. RetrievedJanuary 6, 2015.
  13. Jump up^ "Review: The Martian by Andy Weir"Amazing Stories(610). April 2014. Retrieved January 6, 2015.
  14. Jump up^ "2015 Seiun Awards". Locus Publications. 2015-06-30. Retrieved 2015-10-03.
  15. Jump up^ Sneider, Jeff (May 15, 2013). "Drew Goddard in Negotiations to Write and Direct ‘The Martian’ for Fox (Exclusive)"The Wrap. Retrieved February 16, 2014.
  16. Jump up^ "Ridley Scott in Talks to Direct Matt Damon in 'The Martian' (Exclusive)"Hollywood Reporter. May 13, 2014. RetrievedMay 14, 2014.
  17. Jump up^ Kroll, Justin (September 3, 2014). "Jessica Chastain Joins Matt Damon in Ridley Scott’s ‘The Martian’". variety.com. Retrieved September 3, 2014.
  18. Jump up^ Sneider, Jeff (October 10, 2014). "‘Community's’ Donald Glover Joins Matt Damon in Ridley Scott's ‘The Martian’ (Exclusive)". thewrap.com. Retrieved October 12, 2014.
  19. Jump up^ Anderton, Ethan (August 1, 2014). "Fox Shifts Release Dates for 'The Martian,' 'Miss Peregrine' & More". firstshowing.net. Retrieved August 2, 2014.
  20. Jump up^ Vilkomerson, Sara (2014-12-19). "Ridley Scott sends his 'Martian' script into space"Entertainment Weekly(Entertainment Weekly and Time Inc.). Retrieved 2014-12-26.
  21. Jump up^ Gipson, Lillian (October 8, 2015). "Follow Mark Watney’s Epic Trek on Mars with New NASA Web Tool"NASA. Retrieved October 29, 2015.
  22. Jump up^ Dunn, Marcia (October 29, 2015). "Report: NASA needs better handle on health hazards for Mars"AP News. Retrieved October 30, 2015.
  23. Jump up^ Staff (October 29, 2015). "NASA's Efforts to Manage Health and Human Performance Risks for Space Exploration (IG-16-003)" (PDF)NASA. Retrieved October 29, 2015.
  24. Jump up^ Staff (October 8, 2015). "REPORT: NASA’s Pioneering Next Steps in Space Exploration" (PDF)NASA. RetrievedOctober 29, 2015.
  25. Jump up^ Staff (October 28, 2015). "Human Space Exploration: The Next Steps"Center for American Progress. RetrievedOctober 29, 2015.
  26. Jump up^ Staff (October 28, 2015). "NASA: "Human Space Exploration - The Next Steps" - Video (55:48)"Center for American Progress. Retrieved October 29, 2015.

External links[edit]

External images
 Geological map of Mars showing the route of Watney. From the Commission on Planetary Cartography.

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