Preppin' on Mars: The Martian by Andy Weir

Brief book review. I read this a while ago. It's pretty good.

The premise -- which is a bit dodgy, but I'll grant the writer some latitude in establishing his premise -- is that a single member of a Mars exploration crew is left behind, presumed dead, when the entire team evacuates during a high-powered windstorm that threatens to destroy their camp.

The lone survivor -- the "Martian" of the title -- regains consciousness and takes stock of his situation. There is no possible hope of rescue for four years. He has enough food for something like 300 days (50 days of food for each of the six planned crewmen). So he has to extend his 300 days of food into something like 1450 days.

I mean 1450 "sols." You can't say "day" because a day is an actual measure of time corresponding to 24 hours. A Martian "day" is not the same length of an earth day (though it's pretty damn close), so instead it's called a "sol," which I guess is short for solar cycle.

The "Martian" basically becomes a Prepper. He uses almost all of the floorspace of his habitation unit -- and almost all of his excrement -- as a makeshift farm for growing the highest-energy-density food possible, potatoes. He realizes he also won't have enough water to grow his potatoes, so he's forced to engage in some dangerous chemistry to synthesize hundreds of liters of water out of oxygen and... rocket fuel. And he has to do perform various cannibalizations and modifications to his Mars Rover Vehicles, because his only hope of escape -- 1450 sols down the road -- is making a dangerous and lengthy overland journey over the perilously high/abyssally low Martian terrain to the site of the anticipated landing zone for the next Mars mission.

It's a pretty fun adventure/survival/settler book. (The book does not mention it at all, but it does suggest to a reader (or at least this reader) the travails faced by the early American colonists, or the Antarctic explorers. It's just kind of implicit in this sort of story, without having to be mentioned.)

It's mostly a collection of his diary entries while on Mars. I always feel this is a cheat, because it permits a writer to resort to a very bloggy, casual style of writing in which very little work is exerted. But it mostly works, and I guess is justifiable. This sort of epistolatory novel has a long tradition, after all. Robinson Crusoe was also journal entries, if I remember from the last time I read it. (When I say "I read it" I mean I briefly skimmed the Wikipedia entry.)

But the writer finds this format -- an epistolatory novel consisting of nothing but "found documents" like journal entries or government memoranda -- constraining at times, and then breaks into a conventional third-person omniscient narrative, which is jarring for a couple of reasons. First, just because it's breaking the journal format established earlier, and second, because Weir is, well, his Third Person Narrator style of writing is just as slapdash as his First Person Blog Account style.

It's actually a lot worse, because at least the First Person Blog Account permits a lot of humor (his "Martian" is very jokey) and we don't expect a high degree of literary craft in a journal entry.

But when you switch over to Third Person Narrator, well now that's the actual author of the book writing it, and you don't cut him slack for not being much of a stylist.

In addition, these Third Person Narrator accounts are mostly set on earth, concerning earth officials' efforts to get the stranded "Martian" back to earth, and the read, unfortunately, like those old sci-fi magazine stories in which characters pretty much just speak to each other about Plot Conceits with some occasional Science and Engineering Fan Service thrown in.

And then, when you begin to wish for some actual characterization in these parts, he offers the bare minimum of check-that-box characterization, and you wish he hadn't even bothered.

In fact, I kept thinking as I read these parts: they're so badly written, without any real effort to make these characters seem alive and real, that he really should have stuck to the Full Epistolatory Format and just made these memoranda or minutes from meetings. If he'd done that, the lack of characterization or versimilitude wouldn't be a problem; it would be a virtue. Meetings of NASA meetings aren't supposed to contain a lot of extraneous character information, after all.

There are also a few patches of Very Convenient Plotting Syndrome. These were especially grating because, mostly, they didn't seem necessary-- they have to do with narrative convenience (and, at times, narrative laziness). They don't really affect the main plot that much, which makes the appearance of bits of This Is What Happens Because I Said So more unfortunate.

That said, the book is just fun. Sure, the first person journal account is not the best way to describe the long ride in the MRV near the climax. I would have preferred a Third Person account there, to better convey the wonder of driving through Mars' red dust, down its mile-deep ravines.

And sure, here and there it's written so craftlessly it gets distracting.

But the story is just undeniable fun. The situation is inherently interesting.

And the main character is admirable: There's just no quit in him, and he never gets down. I would have liked him to be more depressed at the beginning, so that his resolution to Just Survive would be more dramatic, but the character winds up being that type who wouldn't get that depressed.

Surviving on Mars for four years, despite only having provisions for 100 sols, is just a problem that needs to be worked through. There's no point crying about it, there's no point blaming the crew that left him behind, and there's no point cursing NASA and God. Just Get On With It. Just do what you need to do, get through the next 30 days so you can then plot how to get through the next thirty. Just keep calm and carry on.

And if you blow up your habitation unit while playing around with your rocket fuel chemistry experiment, you don't cry about it like a baby. When you regain consciousness, you just get out the Duck Tape and start fixin' the thing.

So while at first I wanted more of a depression to seize him, as I read the book I liked the way the character was actually written better. He's an astronaut, after all, and he's not an Everyman. He's the sort of guy who signed up for this years-long, high-chance-of-death mission in the first place.

He's not going to be like I would be in this situation -- fortunately for him, because I just would have eaten the 100 sols of food in 50 days and then hung myself from the radio mast.

Which would have been stupid, because the gravity wouldn't have been enough to do a proper job of strangling me. So I would have f***ed that up too. (By the way, the author uses the f word a lot.)

Overall, it's about Mars, it's about survival, it's about preppin', it's about just shutting up with the complaints and working on the problem at hand.

It's pretty good. There are worst ways to spend a coupla-three nights, and most of those involve the televison.

DIY: Commenters have made me aware of something I didn't previously know -- the book was self-published on Amazon for 99 cents before being bought up by a real publisher (and now sells for $9.99).

It's also been optioned for a movie.

Kind of cool.

I now sort of understand why at times this reads like a book written by an amateur that wasn't professionally edited -- because that's what it is.

Still, flaws and all, it stands on its strengths.

Posted by: Ace at 04:31 PM




Comments

(Jump to bottom of page)

1 first?

Posted by: mallfly at April 18, 2014 04:32 PM (bJm7W)

2 yaaay. It's a good Friday after all.

Posted by: mallfly at April 18, 2014 04:33 PM (bJm7W)

3 I always liked the old movie " Robinson Carusoe on Mars" .

Posted by: steevy at April 18, 2014 04:34 PM (zqvg6)

4 NOW'S one sentence review :


"I guess the patriarchy rules Mars as well."



Posted by: Dr Spank at April 18, 2014 04:35 PM (5UteM)

5 lulz on the radio mast. That was funny shiite.

Posted by: Bosk at April 18, 2014 04:35 PM (n2K+4)

6 You know ace is rifling through the val-u-rite cabinet and coming up empty when he starts the sunday book thread on friday.

Posted by: tangonine at April 18, 2014 04:35 PM (x3YFz)

7 Surviving on Mars for four years, despite only having provisions for 100
sols, is just a problem that needs to be worked through. There's no
point crying about it, there's no point blaming the crew that left him
behind, and there's no point cursing NASA and God. Just Get On With It.
Just do what you need to do, get through the next 30 days so you can
then plot how to get through the next thirty. Just keep calm and carry
on.



Redneck would just go hunting and fishing.

Posted by: rickb223 at April 18, 2014 04:36 PM (d0Dmj)

8 Ace, you find martian hobos and use their blood and rocket fuel to synthesize valu-rite.

Posted by: Penfold at April 18, 2014 04:36 PM (Fbt5B)

9 so he's looking forward to eating potatoes for 4 years? Reminds me of Yosemite Sam shipwrecked with nothing to eat but coconuts. Could be funny after all.

Posted by: mallfly at April 18, 2014 04:36 PM (bJm7W)

10 Blah, blah blah.

Does he get the girl?

Posted by: fluffy at April 18, 2014 04:38 PM (Ua6T/)

11 You know ace is rifling through the val-u-rite cabinet and coming up empty when he starts the sunday book thread on friday gets out of bed.
Posted by: tangonine at April 18, 2014 04:35 PM (x3YFz)


FIFY

Posted by: Sean Bannion at April 18, 2014 04:38 PM (yz6yg)

12 so he's looking forward to eating potatoes for 4 years? Reminds me of Yosemite Sam shipwrecked with nothing to eat but coconuts.



Is the Martian Irish?

Posted by: rickb223 at April 18, 2014 04:38 PM (d0Dmj)

13 Yeah, if most of humanity were 60s and 70s era engineer Astronaut type ... the world would be a lot better place. It'd be richer, more productive, vastly less crime filled.

It'd be a bit boring perhaps. Perhaps less interesting music and movies and entertainment and art.

I'll trade honest, hardworking, industrious, intelligent and diligent for interestingly violent and moody.

Posted by: Costanza Defense at April 18, 2014 04:39 PM (ZPrif)

14 $9.99 for the Kindle edition


http://is.gd/2dvLHZ

Posted by: Vic at April 18, 2014 04:39 PM (T2V/1)

15 Did the Martian have a volleyball named Wilson?

Posted by: Matticus at April 18, 2014 04:40 PM (0Mr4u)

16 Martian Irish?

Posted by: rickb223 at April 18, 2014 04:38 PM (d0Dmj)

Mohammad Zen O'Connolly

Posted by: tangonine at April 18, 2014 04:40 PM (x3YFz)

17 "and there's no point cursing NASA"

Would anyone here, writing the same novel today, use NASA as the organization that gets a man to Mars?

Posted by: Stateless Infidel at April 18, 2014 04:40 PM (AC0lD)

18 ***Spoiler Alert***



He dies after 30 days.




Boating accident.

Posted by: eleven at April 18, 2014 04:40 PM (fsLdt)

19
I've got an old Norwegian recipe for potato dumplings. They're so heavy, you eat one and you don't want to eat anything again for at least four days. He coulda used that.

Posted by: grammie winger at April 18, 2014 04:41 PM (oMKp3)

20 Potatoes make wodka, yes?

Posted by: RolandTHTG at April 18, 2014 04:41 PM (QM5S2)

21 LOL, this book must have been out for a while. There are over 3100 reviews for it on Amazon. Also rated high.

Posted by: Vic at April 18, 2014 04:41 PM (T2V/1)

22
And the main character is admirable: There's just no quit in him, and he never gets down.

Hmm. I'd have used all those mad prepping skills to distill gin and spend 50 sols drinking and fapping and waiting for the end to come.

Posted by: Frumious Bandersnatch at April 18, 2014 04:42 PM (JtwS4)

23 I always liked the old movie " Robinson Carusoe on Mars" .

Me too. I was sad Batman got killed and was just a skeleton.

That poor monkey. When it farted it made a "mooo" sound.

Posted by: Clutch Cargo at April 18, 2014 04:42 PM (pgQxn)

24
John Campbell did something like that.
"The Moon is Hell"
http://tinyurl.com/lqace5a

Lunar expedition has been there a while. They eagerly wait for the rocket to land that will take them back to earth.
It blows up on landing.

The plan was for ALL of them to return so they didn't have a lot of supplies left over.

It's in diary format.

First part - get air
Second part - food.

Quite thrilling.

Posted by: Comrade Arthur at April 18, 2014 04:42 PM (h53OH)

25 So, Ace. . .
would you critique my book?
I can't get anyone else to read it.

I just need an honest opinion. Should I finish the second one?

Posted by: Smith at April 18, 2014 04:42 PM (DLc/A)

26 Ok, that's so brazen it's kinda funny.

Weasel Zippers ‏@weaselzippers
Obama Signs Ted Cruz’s Law Banning Iran’s UN Ambassador ... Then Says He Won’t Enforce It… http://shar.es/TjE6M

Posted by: Costanza Defense at April 18, 2014 04:42 PM (ZPrif)

27 It'd be a bit boring perhaps. Perhaps less interesting music and movies and entertainment and art.

I'll trade honest, hardworking, industrious, intelligent and diligent for interestingly violent and moody.



Do go on...

Posted by: Johan Sebastian Bach at April 18, 2014 04:42 PM (Ua6T/)

28 Robinson Caruso did awesome duets with Fridayrotti.

Posted by: Emperor of Icecream at April 18, 2014 04:43 PM (ZMzpb)

29 That review reminds me of Chevy Chase's wife's review of his book in the movie Funny Farm. When Chevy asks what she thinks of his opus she starts crying.

Posted by: Dr Spank at April 18, 2014 04:43 PM (5UteM)

30 Hmm. I'd have used all those mad prepping skills to distill gin and spend 50 sols drinking and fapping and waiting for the end to come.

Posted by: Frumious Bandersnatch at April 18, 2014 04:42 PM (JtwS4)

Kinda like every day here on Earth, eh?

Posted by: tangonine at April 18, 2014 04:43 PM (x3YFz)

31 If you ferment those potatoes and then distill them, you get an even higher energy dense food -- Val-U-Rite.

This would be part of MY plan.

Posted by: GnuBreed at April 18, 2014 04:44 PM (cHZB7)

32 I'll trade honest, hardworking, industrious, intelligent and diligent for interestingly violent and moody.

___

Hmm. 2 out of 7 is a fail, right?

Posted by: tangonine at April 18, 2014 04:44 PM (x3YFz)

33 >>>First part - get air
Second part - food.

sounds tougher than this one.

this guy has all the oxygen he wants thanks to what I assume is a fantasy technology, the "oxygenator," which can split as much oxygen from Mars' CO2 as you'd like.*

* I mean, I know this is possible, but the specific device itself is fantasy.

Posted by: ace at April 18, 2014 04:44 PM (/FnUH)

34 He had best hope he will not be in a containment that depressurizes. He will get all "bug-eyed" like Arnie.

Posted by: Vic at April 18, 2014 04:45 PM (T2V/1)

35 33 * I mean, I know this is possible, but the specific device itself is fantasy.





Posted by: ace at April 18, 2014 04:44 PM (/FnUH)

Not so much Ace. Subs have long had scrubbers that would take out CO2 and clean up the air.

Posted by: Vic at April 18, 2014 04:46 PM (T2V/1)

36 So no hot sex scenes?

Posted by: WalrusRex at April 18, 2014 04:46 PM (XHK1d)

37 I'll trade honest, hardworking, industrious, intelligent and diligent for interestingly violent and moody.

Nope.

Gimme some cray cray chicks.

Just for a week.

Just a week.

Posted by: Sean Bannion at April 18, 2014 04:46 PM (yz6yg)

38 Mars? You mean where we planted our flag?

Posted by: Shiela Jackson Lee at April 18, 2014 04:46 PM (32Ze2)

39 >>>Not so much Ace. Subs have long had scrubbers that would take out CO2 and clean up the air.

that's a different thing (which is also in the book).

Scrubbing CO2 out of the air is different from manufacturing O2 in the first place.

Posted by: ace at April 18, 2014 04:47 PM (/FnUH)

40 In before the obligatory "Yeah, gonna be drinkin' his own piss for for years" comment.

Posted by: Sharkman at April 18, 2014 04:47 PM (SvDMt)

41
Kinda like every day here on Earth, eh?

Pretty much.

::gazes upon the shambles of his misbegotten life::

But my LDR affords me actual sex on occasion, one of those occasions being tomorrow, so I'm out of here and hitting the road. Have a great Easter, Horde!

Posted by: Frumious Bandersnatch at April 18, 2014 04:47 PM (JtwS4)

42 Yeah.... but the guy left out the part where I helped him...

Which made me sooooo angry....

Posted by: Marvin, the Martian at April 18, 2014 04:48 PM (84gbM)

43
Nope.

Gimme some cray cray chicks.

Just for a week.

Just a week.

Posted by: Sean Bannion at April 18, 2014 04:46 PM (yz6yg)

LOL... it never works like that.

Posted by: tangonine at April 18, 2014 04:48 PM (x3YFz)

44 Hope he got to chance to do the dirty bird with the chick with three boobehs!

Posted by: dananjcon at April 18, 2014 04:48 PM (NpXoL)

45 "Potato soup AGAIN?"

Posted by: GnuBreed at April 18, 2014 04:48 PM (cHZB7)

46 And the F-er took a page from your President.... and ATE Klepton!

Posted by: Marvin, the Martian at April 18, 2014 04:48 PM (84gbM)

47 it turns out -- I'm assuming the book is accurate about this, as you can tell he did a lot of technical reading -- that low oxygen is not nearly as dangerous as high CO2. You have a lot more wiggle room with low oxygen, whereas high CO2 will kill you pretty fast (poison).

But the oxygenator has to make the O2 in the first place, before you can scrub CO2 out of it.

Posted by: ace at April 18, 2014 04:48 PM (/FnUH)

48 LOL... it never works like that.
Posted by: tangonine at April 18, 2014 04:48 PM (x3YFz)


I know.

Oh man, do I know.

Posted by: Sean Bannion at April 18, 2014 04:49 PM (yz6yg)

49 hung myself from the radio mast.

-
Yeah, me too.

Posted by: Zombie David Carradi.e at April 18, 2014 04:49 PM (cuzdH)

50 I know.

Oh man, do I know.

Posted by: Sean Bannion at April 18, 2014 04:49 PM (yz6yg)

mmmhmm.

Posted by: tangonine at April 18, 2014 04:50 PM (x3YFz)

51 Yeah, I just looked up how those things work. It would do him some good, but he would still need a source of O2.

Posted by: Vic at April 18, 2014 04:50 PM (T2V/1)

52 I bet his Playboys are a train wreck by the time he's rescued.

Posted by: Dr Spank at April 18, 2014 04:51 PM (5UteM)

53 He's not going to be like I would be in this situation --
fortunately for him, because I just would have eaten the 100 sols of
food in 50 days and then hung myself from the radio mast.

Were 200 sols of the food something you don't like?

Posted by: Buzzsaw at April 18, 2014 04:51 PM (tf9Ne)

54 "Potato soup AGAIN?"


"Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! I'm sick of you goddamn complaining!"



"'Im sick of you goddamn potatoes!!!"

Posted by: eleven at April 18, 2014 04:51 PM (fsLdt)

55
First it's movie reviews. Now it's book reviews.......

Loquacious Ewok


Posted by: IllTemperedCur at April 18, 2014 04:52 PM (TIIx5)

56 But the oxygenator has to make the O2 in the first place, before you can scrub CO2 out of it.



Posted by: ace at April 18, 2014 04:48 PM (/FnUH)


Yeah... because making O2 from CO2 is just plain crazy talk....

Posted by: a Plant at April 18, 2014 04:52 PM (84gbM)

57 Subs have long had scrubbers that would take out CO2 and clean up the air.

That was part of the life-threatening part of the Apollo 13 mission, the fact the CO2 levels were rising so high. But it's a different animal altogether to take nothing but CO2 and get oxygen out of it. I think Mars has something like 4% atmosphere compared to Earth, so there's not much to work with.

Interesting premise if it could work. There 'should' be water at the poles, but there 'should' be water at the moons poles, too. I'd prefer they figure stuff out closer to home.

Posted by: Annoying Science Guy at April 18, 2014 04:52 PM (oGrEy)

58 How does he deal with the solitude?

Posted by: S. Muldoon at April 18, 2014 04:52 PM (MKpBT)

59
I was browsing through "moon is hell" just now.

Oh, man they're screwed. The expedition was on the FAR side of the moon so, after the rocket blows up, they have to send people, with a radio, to where the earth can be seen just to let them know they're alive and have a chance to live long enough for another rocket to be built.

On the the bright side, they have a fair number of people so there's a lot of knowledge to go around.

Posted by: Comrade Arthur at April 18, 2014 04:53 PM (h53OH)

60 52 I bet his Playboys are a train wreck by the time he's rescued.


Posted by: Dr Spank at April 18, 2014 04:51 PM (5UteM)


No.... but John was getting pissed off.... guy was chasing me all the time...

Posted by: Dejah Thoris at April 18, 2014 04:53 PM (84gbM)

61 fark this martian in particular.

Posted by: ThisBeingMilt at April 18, 2014 04:53 PM (7mQyC)

62 The only good thing about FIFA is everybody knows that everybody is on the take.

Christopher Snowdon ‏@cjsnowdon
Yet more evidence of the mind-boggling corruption at FIFA. http://tgr.ph/1jRqwFu

The 10-year-old daughter of a Fifa executive who helped to select World Cup host nations had more than £2 million put into a savings account set up in her name, the Telegraph can disclose.
Antonia Wigand Teixeira, the daughter of the Brazilian representative on the Fifa executive committee, received the money in 2011. Her father, Ricardo, who stepped down from the committee in 2012, has recently moved to Miami after Brazilian police began an investigation into his activities. The disclosure will raise questions about the finances of some Fifa officials who participated in the decision to award Russia and Qatar the 2018 and 2022 tournaments.

Posted by: Costanza Defense at April 18, 2014 04:54 PM (ZPrif)

63 I think Mars has something like 4% atmosphere compared to Earth, so there's not much to work with.

But he's got the whole planet to himself!!!!!

Posted by: Some "Progressive" "Scientist" at April 18, 2014 04:54 PM (yz6yg)

64
Eating crap grown potatoes for 4 years in many ways is the story of obama.

Posted by: Guy Mohawk at April 18, 2014 04:54 PM (BrAHD)

65 Here we go Ace; a closed loop O2 generation system that converts CO2 to O2.


But it needs water and power.


http://ip.com/IPCOM/000212154

Posted by: Vic at April 18, 2014 04:55 PM (T2V/1)

66 >>>How does he deal with the solitude?

in a joke that doesn't really work for me, he spends most of his time watching the media library of one his crewmates, which is all crappy 70s tv shows.

But he's mostly busy, because there's a lot of shit to do just to survive on mars.

Posted by: ace at April 18, 2014 04:55 PM (/FnUH)

67 1450 divided by howmuch food you have which I assume is 3 squares a day for 300 days and that is what you consume per day.( you get a little more than half a square a day) As long as you have water , you will survive. You'll look like a concentration camp survivor but you'd have a chance to make it.

Posted by: polynikes at April 18, 2014 04:55 PM (m2CN7)

68 But he's got the whole planet to himself!!!!!



.0000000000001 Percenter!!

Posted by: eleven at April 18, 2014 04:55 PM (fsLdt)

69 Eating crap grown potatoes for 4 years in many ways is the story of obama.
Posted by: Guy Mohawk at April 18, 2014 04:54 PM (BrAHD)


I think we have a thread winner here.

Posted by: Some at April 18, 2014 04:55 PM (yz6yg)

70 #3.
Just saw TODAY, that Robinson Crusoe on Mars is recently added on NETFLIX.
Haven't seen since its release in 1964
(God, that made me feel old!)

Posted by: theforgetler at April 18, 2014 04:56 PM (xSWZi)

71 If he plans his diet according to Michelle Obama's school lunch guide lines he should just about make 1,000 days.

He's fucked.


Posted by: dananjcon at April 18, 2014 04:56 PM (NpXoL)

72 as for solitude:

The book is not what you would call emotionally deep, so don't expect much by way of that sort of thing, pondering, going a little crazy, believing in God one day but cursing him the next, etc.

It's got more of a Lighthearted Lark tone than that.

Posted by: ace at April 18, 2014 04:56 PM (/FnUH)

73 So, what you're saying, is that it lacks =depth= and =character=.

(Seriously, isn't this the usual dismissal by snooty critics vis a vis pulp fiction? "We can't have characters who reveal themselves through =action=! Spell it out for us with their innermost thoughts! Also, sex."

Posted by: moviegique at April 18, 2014 04:57 PM (7zeA4)

74 OT: Out Obamaing Obama. Obama signs Cruz's law to keep terrorist Iranian ambassador out of the U.S. then moments later says he won't enforce the law he just signed.

From Weasel Zippers.

Posted by: WalrusRex at April 18, 2014 04:57 PM (FpTHT)

75 Anyone able to tell me if the Clinton Global Initiative has actually achieved anything concrete?

Posted by: thunderb at April 18, 2014 04:58 PM (Pc0ub)

76 I believe Mars, translated to English, means a whales potato.

Posted by: Ron Burgundy at April 18, 2014 04:58 PM (5UteM)

77 Posted by: ace at April 18, 2014 04:55 PM (/FnUH)

***

I think the mechanical issues of air, water, food, shelter are really secondary in a story like this. All of my "rugged individualist" bluster aside, the hardest part of surviving that scenario would be the sheer isolation. My wife and I use the tag line, "Solitude is good, but it's best when you can share it with someone."

Posted by: S. Muldoon at April 18, 2014 04:58 PM (MKpBT)

78 But he's mostly busy, because there's a lot of shit to do just to survive on mars.
Posted by: ace at April 18, 2014 04:55 PM (/FnUH)

Real survival means burning the least amount of calories necessary. If you burn more calories searching or working for food than the calories youobtain, you defeat the purpose.

Posted by: polynikes at April 18, 2014 04:58 PM (m2CN7)

79 He should just dial 911.

Posted by: Piers Morgan at April 18, 2014 04:58 PM (cHZB7)

80 How does he deal with the solitude?

Posted by: S. Muldoon at April 18, 2014 04:52 PM (MKpBT)

Ace? or the Martian?

Posted by: tangonine at April 18, 2014 04:58 PM (x3YFz)

81 >>68 But he's got the whole planet to himself!!!!!

.0000000000001 Percenter!!

Strictly speaking, he's a 100%er.

Posted by: moviegique at April 18, 2014 04:58 PM (7zeA4)

82 Crusoe

Posted by: Miley's Tongue at April 18, 2014 04:58 PM (R+h7Q)

83 74 OT: Out Obamaing Obama. Obama signs Cruz's law to keep terrorist Iranian ambassador out of the U.S. then moments later says he won't enforce the law he just signed.

From Weasel Zippers.

Posted by: WalrusRex at April 18, 2014 04:57 PM (FpTHT)


Which is an abrogation of his oath of office... and in fact could constitute Fraud... as he signed something into law he would not enforce..

Which would be a High Crime or Misdemeanor...

Posted by: Dejah Thoris at April 18, 2014 04:59 PM (84gbM)

84 >>>All of my "rugged individualist" bluster aside, the hardest part of surviving that scenario would be the sheer isolation.

actually now that you mention it, that is addressed in part of the book, but I'll spare you the details.

Posted by: ace at April 18, 2014 04:59 PM (/FnUH)

85 Got Hillary elected to the Senate, appointed to Sec. of State, and now the frontrunner for the Dem nomination and in solid position to be the next Prez.

Posted by: Costanza Defense at April 18, 2014 04:59 PM (ZPrif)

86 74 OT: Out Obamaing Obama. Obama signs Cruz's law to keep terrorist Iranian ambassador out of the U.S. then moments later says he won't enforce the law he just signed.



I dont even know what to say anymore. This is CrazyWorld.

Posted by: grammie winger at April 18, 2014 04:59 PM (oMKp3)

87
related maybe or not:

Scientists say they have identified a protein that causes zombielike behavior in plants.Certain
crops are vulnerable to parasites that take control of their hosts’
behavior, forcing them to act in the intruder’s interest. (The same is
true in some animal species: Spiders in Costa Rica infected by a
parasitic wasp, for example,




Stolen from insty

Posted by: Guy Mohawk at April 18, 2014 05:00 PM (BrAHD)

88 Snowden & Putin & Greenwald? Yuck. Not at the HQ.

Posted by: occam's brassiere at April 18, 2014 05:00 PM (Z64B5)

89 And since it's space related I'll repeat from the previous thread

>>>114 I also didn't know about speculations about the moon's role in making earth a life-friendly world.

(I looked that up on my own, but didn't ask questions, and in fact argued against the point when it was first raised by, I think, maddog.)

Posted by: ace at April 18, 2014 03:52 PM (/FnUH)

Man I got screwed out of my making ace feel stupid hat tip.

Posted by: Buzzion at April 18, 2014 05:00 PM (z/Ubi)

90 In all seriousness, to survive that situation you would have to sleep 18 to 20 hours a day, and masturbate only 2 to 3 times a day.

Posted by: Dr Spank at April 18, 2014 05:01 PM (5UteM)

91 Just bought it for kindle, and even remembered to use ace's amazon link thingy. I buy damn near everything from amazon, and I almost never remember to use it.

I blame everyone but me.

Posted by: DC in Towson at April 18, 2014 05:01 PM (gJ81s)

92 82 Crusoe
Posted by: Miley's Tongue at April 18, 2014 04:58 PM (R+h7Q)
===================

I thought Ace was talking about an Italian cover of Crusoe, sung in a beautiful operatic tenor.

Posted by: MTF at April 18, 2014 05:01 PM (F58x4)

93 SO the Potatoes are the McGuffin?

Posted by: BunkerintheBurbs at April 18, 2014 05:03 PM (WDySP)

94 Posted by: Costanza Defense


Why don't you go buzz-kill a different thread.

Posted by: Dr Spank at April 18, 2014 05:03 PM (5UteM)

95 74 OT: Out Obamaing Obama. Obama signs Cruz's law to keep terrorist Iranian ambassador out of the U.S. then moments later says he won't enforce the law he just signed.

From Weasel Zippers.
Posted by: WalrusRex at April 18, 2014 04:57 PM (FpTHT)
=====================


Obama is the American Denis Pakhomov.

Posted by: MTF at April 18, 2014 05:04 PM (F58x4)

96 Man I got screwed out of my making ace feel stupid hat tip.

Posted by: Buzzion at April 18, 2014 05:00 PM (z/Ubi)

Aw man.

Posted by: m at April 18, 2014 05:05 PM (2AqeI)

97 >>>Crusoe
Posted by: Miley's Tongue

i've been getting that wrong for 30 years

Posted by: ace at April 18, 2014 05:05 PM (/FnUH)

98 I read this a while ago too, I believe a friend recommended it.

Very fun read. It's not a fully polished book, and could probably have stood to have a bit more proofreading, but still very much worth it.

Posted by: Hollowpoint at April 18, 2014 05:05 PM (SY2Kh)

99 >>Man I got screwed out of my making ace feel stupid hat tip.

that was deliberate, smart-guy

Posted by: ace at April 18, 2014 05:06 PM (/FnUH)

100 By the way, I highly recommend the Podcast. Ace is awesome on Hairy Reid, WaPo and the Kochs, among all the other wonderful stuff.

Posted by: MTF at April 18, 2014 05:06 PM (F58x4)

101 >>>In all seriousness, to survive that situation you would have to sleep 18 to 20 hours a day, and masturbate only 2 to 3 times a day.

paradise

Posted by: ace at April 18, 2014 05:06 PM (/FnUH)

102 Ace,

Probably from the "Gilligan's Island" theme:

o/~Like Robinson Ca-ROO-so
It's primitive as can be~\o

Posted by: moviegique at April 18, 2014 05:06 PM (7zeA4)

103 yup, that damn theme song

and "Crusoe" is so much cooler

Posted by: ace at April 18, 2014 05:07 PM (/FnUH)

104 In all seriousness, to survive that situation you would have to sleep 18 to 20 hours a day, and masturbate only 2 to 3 times a day.

paradise

Posted by: ace at April 18, 2014 05:06 PM (/FnUH)

We've been over it 6 times on the white board and fail to find a flaw in this plan.

Posted by: tangonine at April 18, 2014 05:07 PM (x3YFz)

105 Why don't you go buzz-kill a different thread.


okay.. it's not just me then.

Posted by: eleven at April 18, 2014 05:10 PM (fsLdt)

106 New poot. Please proceed accordingly.

Posted by: Jupiter at April 18, 2014 05:11 PM (ukNFU)

107 $9.99 for the Kindle edition
http://is.gd/2dvLHZ


Holy crap. It was only $0.99 when I read it.

Good for him. I hope he follows up with another one.

Posted by: Hollowpoint at April 18, 2014 05:11 PM (SY2Kh)

108 >>>We've been over it 6 times on the white board and fail to find a flaw in this plan.

if only

Posted by: ace at April 18, 2014 05:16 PM (/FnUH)

109 "OT: Out Obamaing Obama. Obama signs Cruz's law to keep terrorist Iranian
ambassador out of the U.S. then moments later says he won't enforce the
law he just signed."

Don't worry. You can be sure that Congress will react vehemently and forcefully against a rogue executive branch which is ignoring the legislatively expressed will of a Constitutionally co-equal branch of government.

Yep. They'll do that any minute now.

::: crickets :::

Posted by: torquewrench at April 18, 2014 05:17 PM (noWW6)

110 This isn't the book where they find the sexy bee people is it?*



* That may have been a dream.

Posted by: Dr Spank at April 18, 2014 05:17 PM (5UteM)

111 I liked it.

There are also a few patches of Very Convenient Plotting Syndrome.

I never noticed stuff like this til I started reading AoSHQ. It's one of a few things I'm not really sure I wouldn't have rather stayed with ignorance is bliss.

Posted by: DaveA at April 18, 2014 05:17 PM (DL2i+)

112 when i say the oxygenator is a fantasy device, I don't mean it's impossible. I mean it's fantasy as of right this moment.

also, in the way it's depicted. Oxygen is just NEVER a concern him; that's the one thing he has plenty of. That's not a problem, because it's fine if he has ONE of his four necessities.

It's just that he has a lot of oxygen. A lot. Literally, he has oxygen to burn, which is important, because it burns it with H2 to make water for his potatoes.

It's just a little fantasy in the sense that he has not only enough oxygen for his mission, but also for various unplanned activities.

NASA really set these guys up with a lot of excess oxygen production.

Posted by: ace at April 18, 2014 05:18 PM (/FnUH)

113 NASA really set these guys up with a lot of excess oxygen production.





Posted by: ace


Well he would be able to use the spare oxygen unused by his deserting crew-mates.

Posted by: Dr Spank at April 18, 2014 05:20 PM (5UteM)

114 he's got more than that.

Posted by: ace at April 18, 2014 05:22 PM (/FnUH)

115 Favorite line in the book- "Look, boobs! (.)(.)"

Posted by: Hollowpoint at April 18, 2014 05:23 PM (SY2Kh)

116 The Armstrong Limit is weird.

Posted by: Dr Spank at April 18, 2014 05:28 PM (5UteM)

117 Cismale gendernormative fascism, top to bottom. I suppose that all the NASA engineers working to save him celebrated their binary gender choices, too.

Posted by: cryptical at April 18, 2014 05:28 PM (9Equ9)

118 MacGyver in Outer Space.

I liked it.

E-book price went up because when a real publisher picked up the book, they got to set the e-book prices. Author's got nothing to say in it.

Posted by: TB at April 18, 2014 05:29 PM (8u/5i)

119 I'm not saying the oxygenator is an objectionable bit of science speculation.

It's just two things: First, he gets into the details of this non-existing technology a little too much, and my eyes glaze over, because, while I want to hear about real science (and he does have a fair amount of real science in the book), I could care less about the specs of a non-existing made-up thng.

Second, mostly NASA has sent a lean payload to Mars. There's extra food, but not much extra; just the overage you'd send in case they have to stay a couple of extra weeks.

And so forth.

It's just that with oxygen, he's so well-stocked you sort of wonder why NASA isn't lean on this particular need.

But this could just be explained by technology, of course. It could be that once you figure out how to crack CO2 into O2 without using too much energy (or if you have so much energy you don't care about energy use), well, you really would have as much O2 as you'd need.

It's not really a big deal at all, it's just that everything else is subject to scarcity, including CO2 scrubbers and such.

I shouldn't have brought it up. When I said "fantasy device" i didn't really mean it in a derogatory way, I just meant that most of the other tech in the book is available right now, and this one isn't.



Posted by: ace at April 18, 2014 05:30 PM (/FnUH)

120 NASA really set these guys up with a lot of excess oxygen production.

It's supposed to be a long term research base for 6? people and the O2 and rocket fuel (hydrazine) for the return trip are manufactured there on Mars.

Posted by: DaveA at April 18, 2014 05:34 PM (DL2i+)

121 He has plenty of Solar panels though they're Mars weak.

I forget if they also had RTG (acronym you wanted earlier)

http://tinyurl.com/7tcgq

Posted by: DaveA at April 18, 2014 05:37 PM (DL2i+)

122 Note to self : Ace loves oxygen; Christmas present?

Posted by: Dr Spank at April 18, 2014 05:37 PM (5UteM)

123 I agree with Ace on this book. At least as far as the liking it; I didn't read it with an eye towards reviewing it, so I wasn't looking for those critiquey kinds of things (POV, convenient plotting, etc) while I was reading it. One thing that did occur to me as I was reading it was how great it would be as a movie or TV mini series. Very entertaining and I think very adaptable.

I read this a couple or few months ago, based on something someone said on the Sunday book thread. I don't know if it was OregonMuse's post itself or someone in the comments, but I know it was the thread. So, thanks to the OregonMuse (and Ace) for the book thread!

Posted by: Anon Y. Mous at April 18, 2014 05:43 PM (IN7k+)

124 >>>I forget if they also had RTG (acronym you wanted earlier)

he definitely had the RTG, because this book is where I know the RTG from.

Although -- and this happens so often -- the moment I learned of the RTG from this book, I immediately saw it referenced like three times in other places.

Posted by: ace at April 18, 2014 05:52 PM (/FnUH)

125 I grok the Martian sole survivor meme.

Posted by: Chris_Balsz at April 18, 2014 05:57 PM (5xmd7)

126 Sounds like an amalgam of David Palmer's Emergence and the Gary Sinise/Don Cheadle/Andy Dufresne film Mission to Mars.

Posted by: Captain Ned at April 18, 2014 06:07 PM (i+Fm3)

127 I read and listened to the audio book, yeah it's great fun if you like hard SciFi (no idea how realistic the science was but it seemed convincing). Gotten a lot of positive mentions on the book thread. Enjoyed the sand storm and the final scene, though the business with the volcano seemed unrealistic.

Posted by: waelse1 at April 18, 2014 06:21 PM (j3mix)

128 A device to take in CO2 and produce O? Already developed. I hold the patent on it. The super secret name of this technical device is 'plant' or 'tree'.

Posted by: The Big Guy Upstairs at April 18, 2014 06:21 PM (oGrEy)

129 The Martian is indeed enjoyable, but the author does make a horrendous hash of oxygen toxicity early on that makes his subsequent 'hard science' a little suspect. But ignore that and it moves well.

Posted by: PersonFromPorlock at April 18, 2014 06:28 PM (UYiBe)

130 >>> Enjoyed the sand storm and the final scene, though the business with the volcano seemed unrealistic.

I thought the volcano sequence was the most metaphorically rich part of the novel.

Posted by: ace at April 18, 2014 06:37 PM (/FnUH)

131 >>>The Martian is indeed enjoyable, but the author does make a horrendous hash of oxygen toxicity early on

ah I missed that.. what did he get wrong?

Posted by: ace at April 18, 2014 06:38 PM (/FnUH)

132 SO the Potatoes are the McGuffin?
Man meets potato. Man eats potato. Man shits out potato. Man grows potato. Man re-meets potato. That's the plot of every story in history.

Posted by: neanderthal babe at April 18, 2014 06:40 PM (hn5v5)

133 It's just that with oxygen, he's so well-stocked you sort of wonder why NASA isn't lean on this particular need.
Duh! It's lightweight! Grab a fistful. It weighs nothing.

Posted by: kelly bundy at April 18, 2014 06:45 PM (hn5v5)

134 The thread's dead.
I guess the NASA relief mission didn't make it in time.

Posted by: andycanuck at April 18, 2014 06:50 PM (hn5v5)

135 Great audiobook 'read'. Lots of interesting turns and twists, personality developments and, best of all, real science-based science fiction.

Posted by: Seipherd at April 18, 2014 08:14 PM (1etLu)

136 I read it like more than a year ago and it was fun but I'm still pissed about the crappy ending.

Posted by: Ray Van Dune at April 18, 2014 08:15 PM (w9Eda)

137 I read it and enjoyed it, despite the flaws you've pointed out. It's totally an engineer's fantasy--the main character's unflappable, nerd-like temper is a bit too good to be true--but the science and tech behind it are truly impressive. Anyone thinking of writing a novel about Mars colonization can basically use it as a handbook. I wasn't sorry I read it at all, even though there's little character development and the ending is a bit predictable. But so what? I've read a great many far more lauded "literary novels" that weren't a fraction as entertaining and involving. Three stars--and coming from me, that's praise.

Posted by: Kierkegaard at April 18, 2014 08:54 PM (Puqo9)

138 Gotta love a book that starts out with "I'm pretty much fucked." as its first line.

Posted by: GGE of the Moron Horde, NC Chapter at April 19, 2014 01:07 AM (yh0zB)

139 I personally thought the plentiful oxygen was reasonable. The base has lots of solar cells, and was designed to make enough oxygen for six adults, plus emergency reserve.

I did a Google search for "split CO2 into oxygen and carbon" and found some links. One pointed out that while it is a hard problem, plants can do it. A suitable catalyst would help a lot, and research is being done.

Here's the one most interesting of the links I found:

http://bit.ly/1liqjz1

Posted by: mr_jack at April 19, 2014 01:57 AM (M59SC)

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