Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

The Martian The Martian
by Andy Weir
Del Rey

Supplied for review by Random HouseNew Zealand

Reviewed By: Jacqui Smith

So, in trying to avoid the inevitable “Robinson Crusoe in Space” line… I have to say that I haven’t read a book quite like The Martian for a long time, if ever. Nobody writes this kind of hard realistic solar system based science fiction any more. Partly because a book about an astronaut stuck on Mars and full of maths and physics should be really awfully boring, but it’s not.

There’s constant suspense of the “what’s-going-to-go-wrong-next?” variety, and “how-is-he-going-to-fix-this?” There’s a great deal of irreverent humour, quite a lot of it directed at NASA. And a surprisingly light touch with the writing style that works very well for most readers.

Perhaps the weakest part of the story is the set-up, the how of getting a lone astronaut left behind on Mars, but the scenario seems reasonable enough for me. The fact that it’s the crew member with just the right combination of skills and personality to survive is authorial serendipity.

The rest of it? Well, you have to assume that Weir has done the math right, or that at least somebody has… Because to go and check would take you away from the story, and you want to keep reading. Mind you, I expect some people will.

This is a truly exceptional novel, and especially coming right after the success of  Gravity, I anticipate we’ll be reviewing the movie in a year or so… only as long as they stick to the book, the science won’t be nearly as broken as it was in Gravity. We can only hope that The Martian gets read by the masses, because it deserves to be, and more importantly, this is the kind of novel that can get people interested in real space. And put you off potatoes for life…

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