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arbieroo

Arbie's Unoriginally Titled Book Blog

It's a blog! Mainly of book reviews.

Currently reading

Ursula K. Le Guin: Hainish Novels and Stories, Vol. 1: Rocannon's World / Planet of Exile / City of Illusions / The Left Hand of Darkness / The Dispossessed / Stories (The Library of America)
Brian Attebery, Ursula K. Le Guin
Progress: 87/1100 pages
Life and Letters of Charles Darwin - Volume 1: By Charles Darwin - Illustrated
Charles Darwin
Progress: 195/346 pages
Basics of Plasma Astrophysics
Claudio Chiuderi, Marco Velli
Progress: 3/250 pages
Ursula K. Le Guin: The Complete Orsinia: Malafrena / Stories and Songs (The Library of America)
Brian Attebery, Ursula K. Le Guin
Progress: 359/700 pages
Selected Short Stories - Conrad (Wordsworth Classics)
Keith Carabine, Joseph Conrad
Progress: 236/272 pages
A Student's Guide to Lagrangians and Hamiltonians
Patrick Hamill
Progress: 7/180 pages
Complete Poems, 1904-1962
E.E. Cummings
Progress: 108/1102 pages
The Complete Plays and Poems
E.D. Pendry, J.C. Maxwell, Christopher Marlowe
She Stoops to Conquer and Other Comedies (Oxford World's Classics)
Henry Fielding, David Garrick, Oliver Goldsmith
Progress: 76/448 pages
Gravitation (Physics Series)
Kip Thorne;Kip S. Thorne;Charles W. Misner;John Archibald Wheeler;John Wheeler
Progress: 48/1215 pages

The Martian, Andy Weir

The Martian - Andy Weir

OK, this is gonna piss off a lot of people...

This book is hugely over-rated; there are flaws in the structure, spelling (!) and science, it's nowhere near as funny as the hype suggested and the whole idea is entirely unoriginal. It also suffers from NASA-respect overdose; NASA is the organisation that killed a shuttle-ful of astronauts because they thought a known catastrophic-failure risk was worth taking in order to avoid a mildly embarrassing launch delay. (See What Do You Care What Other People Think?.)

Admittedly humour is subjective, but I found most of the humour in the book unsubtle and unfunny.

I was shocked to discover that our hero managed get himself impaled by part of an insect that was being used to communicate with a satellite in Mars orbit. What were insects doing on Mars? How do you use them for communications? Are they supposed to fly in to orbit or what? And how are you going to get impaled by antennae, whilst wearing a space-suit, anyway? They break far more easily than space-suits, or bare human skin for that matter.

No, no, you're saying, it was part of a radio communications rig, not part of an insect! Well, those are antennas not antennae, as any competent astronaut or engineer should know and moreover, any competent author or editor should know, too.

Then, apparently, explosive decompression means your body "kind of explodes." Bollocks, does it! You might rupture skin surface capillaries but that's as far as that goes; in space you'd asphyxiate to death. On Mars you'd freeze a lot faster than in space but the asphyxiation would probably still get you first.

Structural flaws? Well there are several passages detailing the history of a piece of cloth involved in a crisis that are entirely redundant because the whole thing is explained by one line of dialogue later. This type of thing goes on through-out.

Unoriginal? Well, to be fair, whilst there have been numerous "Robinson Crusoe on Mars" type stories (e.g. Welcome to Mars), the study of Mars moves on a-pace and a new one every generation, taking account of current knowledge isn't such a bad idea.

All that said, this is not a bad first novel, or the worst SF novel for egregious scientific errors, either. Really, it would have been better as a novella told entirely from the perspective of our stranded hero, though.