Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Martian

I was considering seeing the movie, so thought it made sense to read the book. It was recommended to me several months back as well by Anna, who thought it would be right up my alley. She was right.

Andy Weir's The Martian isn't like any novel I've read before. It is written as the journal of Mark Watney, and astronaut stranded on Mars when the rest of his crew evacuate in a storm. And it really reads like the journal of an engineer stuck on Mars. It's long on detail on the endless number of things that Watney has to fix, and the specific technical problems that he is solving. It contains a great amount of complaining about boredom and the limited amount of entertainment available. And it doesn't delve deep into the emotional troubles of a man stranded alone on another planet for years. I work in software engineering, and it feels exactly like what myself or a colleague might write in this situation.

And for a novel which is almost entirely about technical troubleshooting, it's really edge-of-your-seat suspense. Whenever things start to stabilize and things seem safe, something catastrophic inevitably happens. I spent an entire miserable sickly day reading this, and managed to finish it within two days, which is something I rarely do.

Well worth a read if you've ever done any technical troubleshooting, or if you want to get a sense of what it's like to do so.

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