here are at least two other Lonely Astronauts out there. One was a short YouTube series about a guy left on the moon by the last Apollo mission, a bitter fellow who vents with streams of bleeped cussing (it’s actually pretty funny). The other is some sort of children’s book. Be that so, Andy Weir’s take on a man being left behind, this time on Mars, is a stunning, exciting, funny, sad, and vivid account of what happens when Astronaut Mark Watney, thought to be dead during a panicked mission abort in the face of a terrifying Martian sand storm, is actually discovered to be alive, alone on Mars, with no chance of recovery.
The fact that it is impossible for him to survive this, to hang on and then travel thousands of klicks across Mars to arrive at the preliminary site of the next Mars base is what makes this book so riveting. Mark uses his botany skills and his mechanical ingenuity to show exactly how he’ll overcome each step (and the author seems to play fair – no vague descriptions of how he’ll produce enough water for his potato crop, how he’ll make air, and how he’ll deal with the long hours of boredom). It’s riveting stuff.
I’ve got a coming Dog Ear piece about reading this – a moment where a disaster strikes and I’m certain he’s going to die, and I actually had to look in my right hand to see how much book remained, to tell myself He’s gotta live through this. He’s just gotta! With NASA throwing all its backing into getting him home, with emergency missions and clever kludges and the abandonment of bureaucracy (boy, would I have loved to see that while I worked there), it’s all a tense race for survival. We, as the readers, find ourselves well aware of Watney’s inventories, distances and obstacles, rooting for him to make it. Great book! Fantastic book!
Funny thing – I picked this up just randomly off the shelf at the local bookstore. At work, someone mentioned having listened to it on audio. Then, while at the Strand at New York, I saw this prominently up front on the recomendation displays. I began to think that that book back in my bag at the apartment was gold. I was right.
I’m not going to just suggest you to check this out. I’m telling you: GET IT!