Saturday, November 14, 2015

Book review: #TheMartian by @AndyWeirAuthor

The story is gripping, exciting and everything about the atmosphere, trajectories, orbits and timing is scientifically accurate. The plot is about an astronaut who is stuck on the surface of Mars and how he survives and increases his chances for survival. The author also factored in the humanitarian aspect of how this kind of situation can unify people from all over our planet, their prayers and their willingness to help and sacrifice. I did not feel that the character, Mark Watney felt intense psychological stress, as one would expect, from being stranded on a deserted and inhospitable planet. There is some humor here and there that gave me a break from worrying for Mark Watney's situation. Some of them made me laugh really hard.

The story brought to life the fact that Mars is not a very hospitable place for us humans to be. I still wonder if it really makes sense to send humans to Mars. If we have to build a whole habitat for humans to live and survive the radiation, lack of atmosphere and lack of source of energy and food, why not just do it closer to home? How about our moon? I agree that we need to setup a backup plan for an accidental stray asteroid wiping us out, but why not start with the moon, perfect it and then head towards Mars and then may be later to Europa and Enceladus. I am talking about a 20 to 50 year timeframe for achieving something so grand and perfect. 

I really wish that Andy Weir made this book a lot less R rated. I was hoping to let my 8 year old wannabe Astrophysicist read this book, but I will have to wait a little longer before I let him read it because of occasional crude language. Andy Weir, hint ... hint .., can we edit the book and make a children friendly version? At least, get rid of the F and S words.

When I was done with this book, I remembered Carl Sagan's message from the original Cosmos documentary when he talked of the 'Pale blue dot'. I do not remember the exact words, but in essence it was about this - Earth is our only home, where everything that matters to everyone exists and we should cherish it, nurture it and protect it for ourselves and our future generations. 

I haven't seen the movie yet. I don't know if I can make time for it while it is in the theatre, but I promise to keep quiet and allow people who haven't read the book to enjoy the movie.