Once again a bestseller much touted by everyone has failed to live up to the praise. There is a trend here that the public should take note of—if a book falls into a genre category, check with those who love the category before buying the book. In this case, The Martian could be called MacGyver Goes to Mars. If you like such things, read it. If, however, you have been reading science fiction for a while, realize that this might not be the best book for you.
First, the money! This has always been one of NASA’s major hurdles, the huge amounts of money involved in space exploration and discovery. The astronomical amounts involved in this book kind of make me want to hurl. How many Star Trek episodes argued about the value of the many vs. the one? This book turns all of that on its head. And then all the blood rushes there and makes the reader pass out. Seriously, the scenario is believable, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. The marketing angle in this alone is crazy-making.
Second, if you love technical manuals, this is a book for you. Apparently, all the science is accurate. So, yes, it’s all possible. However, that doesn’t mean I’m thrilled to read about it. I don’t read sci-fi for accurate technical details, surprise, sorry! If I wanted that, I would subscribe to Popular Mechanics and Popular Science. (Actually, I like the occasional dip into these, but not many engineering or chemistry books make it to my reading lists.) Science fiction has been aptly called speculative fiction because people speculate what could be someday, not give the steps for what could happen tomorrow.
This will make a great movie—better than Gravity, but only somewhat. The same conundrum exists: it just isn’t believable nor probable that so many things could go right. We get our happily-ever-after, but at what cost? It is a fairy tale! This technical dissertation disguised as science fiction is actually filled with Pollyanna’s special magic for a lovely happily ever after. Just skip it. ~ Tessa March 2015