Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.
Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there.
After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.
Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first.
But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?
|Edition description:||Movie Tie-In|
|Product dimensions:||4.10(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.00(d)|
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Excerpted from "The Martian (Mass Market MTI)"
Copyright © 2015 Andy Weir.
Excerpted by permission of Crown/Archetype.
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Reading Group Guide
A castaway story for the new millennium, The Martian presents a fresh take on the classic man-vs-nature battle for survival by setting it on the surface of Mars—a planet completely hostile to sustaining human life. Yet debut novelist and self-proclaimed space nerd Andy Weir manages to make every moment of astronaut Mark Watney’s outer-space ordeal painstakingly realistic and believable.
After Mark Watney is injured, separated from his crew in a sandstorm, and left for dead, alone on the red planet and cut off from any communication, his first priority is tending to his injury and making it through the first day—or sol. Soon he realizes he must do more than survive the day—he must plan long-term if he is to live for years until the next mission is due to arrive.
At its heart, The Martian is a tale of survival of the geekiest. Mark’s scientific ingenuity, his radically inventive botanical solution to starvation, his ability to address seemingly insurmountable problems with rationality and practicality, his sanity-saving sense of humor, and his understated bravery becomes a moving testament to the human spirit. When the ground team at NASA and his crew discover he is alive, their commitment to rescuing one man against all odds likewise speaks to humanity’s deeply rooted sense of connection.
Ultimately, The Martian transcends its undeniable nerdy thrills of how to survive on Mars to celebrate human resilience. We hope the following questions will make your reading group’s experience truly out of this world.
1. How did The Martian challenge your expectations of what the novel would be? What did you find most surprising about it?
2. What makes us root for a character to live in a survival story? In what ways do you identify with Mark? How does the author get you to care about him?
3. Do you believe the crew did the right thing in abandoning the search for Mark? Was there an alternative choice?
4. Did you find the science and technology behind Mark’s problem-solving accessible? How did that information add to the realism of the story?
5. What are some of the ways the author established his credibility with scientific detail? Which of Mark’s solutions did you find most amazing and yet believable?
6. What is your visual picture of the surface of Mars, based on the descriptions in the book? Have you seen photographs of the planet?
7. Who knew potatoes, duct tape, and seventies reruns were the key to space survival? How does each of these items represent aspects of Mark’s character that help him survive?
8. How is Mark’s sense of humor as much a survival skill as his knowledge of botany? Do you have a favorite funny line of his?
9. To what extent does Mark’s log serve as his companion? Do you think it’s implicit in the narrative that maintaining a log keeps him sane?
10. The author provides almost no back story regarding Mark’s life on Earth. Why do you think he made this choice? What do you imagine Mark’s past life was like?
11. There’s no mention of Mark having a romantic relationship on Earth. Do you think that makes it easier or harder to endure his isolation? How would the story be different if he was in love with someone back home?
12. Were there points in the novel when you became convinced Mark couldn’t survive? What were they, and what made those situations seem so dire?
13. The first time the narrative switched from Mark’s log entries to third-person authorial narrative back on Earth, were you surprised? How does alternating between Mark’s point of view and the situation on Earth enhance the story?
14. Did you believe the commitment of those on Earth to rescuing one astronaut? What convinced you most?
15. To what extent do you think guilt played a part in the crew’s choice to go back to Mark? To what extent loyalty? How would you explain the difference?
16. How does the author handle the passage of time in the book? Did he transition smoothly from a day-to-day account to a span of one and a half years? How does he use the passage of time to build suspense?
17. Unlike other castaways, Mark can approximately predict the timing of his potential rescue. How does that knowledge help him? How could it work against him?
18. When Mark leaves the Hab and ventures out in the rover, did you feel a loss of security for him? In addition to time, the author uses distance to build suspense. Discuss how.
19. Where would you place The Martian in the canon of classic space exploration films like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Apollo 13, and Gravity? What does it have in common with these stories? How is it different?
20. A survival story has to resonate on a universal level to be effective, whether it’s set on a desert island or another planet. How important are challenges in keeping life vital? To what extent are our everyday lives about problem-solving and maintaining hope?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
One of the best books I have ever read! You don't have to like Si-Fi to love this book. Mark Watney has such a wonderful sense of humor all the way through the book, and his intelligence, wow!!!! The way he works through everything, just so enjoyable. Do yourself a favor and read the book. Made me laugh, cry and just want to keep reading. I can't wait for the next book from this wonderful author!!!!
The Martian, written by Andy Weir, consists of humor, science, and a lot of emotion. Andy Weir also has another novel called Artemis which also contains science fiction. Other books that would connect to novel The Martian would be would be Packing for Mars by Mary Roach, and Spin by Robert Charles Wilson because they all relate to science fiction. The Martian takes place on the planet Mars in which an astronaut is accidently abandoned by his crew. This leads the astronaut to learn how to survive on the planet and adapt to it while facing many challenges on his own. The Martian can compare to the novel Packing for Mars because it takes place in the same setting and it is also science fiction. This book would deserve a rating of 4 out of 5 because the concept of this novel is so spectacular being a humorous science fiction novel. I recommend this book for people that like to have a good laugh but are also very interested in science such as physics.
One of the best books I've ever read—and I read a LOT of books! It is completely and utterly gripping from the first line. You are immediately in the middle of the story, in the middle of the action, and author Andy Weir does a SUPERB job of giving you a setting and a scene with a minimum of sentences. A freak accident causes Mark Watney's crewmates to think he had been killed, leading to him being left unconscious on Mars, while the rest of the crew leaves as scheduled. He wakes to realize that he is alone with no way to communicate with Earth or anyone. The bright note is that he has access to a Hab that is designed to last for 31 days, on a planet that no one is scheduled to return to for FOUR YEARS. In his words, he realizes the only way to survive is to “science the $hit out of it.” Mark has MacGuyver-like fixing and modification abilities, the ability to think out of the box and to create new ways to use things that NASA never thought of (or even actively tried to prevent!). While obviously we don't have all the technology yet that is present in this book, all of the theories and space program information and the science and technology ALL seems to be realistic, with sound reasoning behind it. Literal rocket scientists AND NASA have gone through and claimed that it could be real. While when reading any fiction book we have to make a leap of faith and believe that what we are being told is true for the purpose of getting lost in the story. When reading Harry Potter we have to believe that “Yer a Wizard, Harry!”, when reading Hunger Games we have to believe that the government selects tributes to fight to the death, when reading Lee Child we have to believe that Jack Reacher just wants to mind his own business and hitchhike across the country but people always interfere. When reading The Martian, it is incredibly easy to believe that it could happen because the science is so real and accurate. Each time Mark comes with a way to rig something, or a dangerous plan to save himself, he explains it in a way that makes sense to non-science nerds. Of course, some of the time he makes mistakes because he's dealing with things that NO ONE has ever had to (neither in the world of the book nor in actual reality!). And some of those mistakes almost kill him—which makes it that much more realistic! And other things happen that are unrelated to his solutions, but just things that fail, or things that succeed beyond what he guessed. This book was incredibly suspenseful and tension-filled. The author did a fantastic job of ratcheting up and up and UP the tenion level—I literally would have to put the book down and pace around to relieve the tension and anxiety that I felt for Mark Watney! And then Mark would deliver some of his sarcastic humor and a laugh would burst out of me. Mark is a very funny character anyway, but he deals with stress by making jokes and mocking himself. The phrase “page turner” is an understatement for this book—even when I reread it I cannot put it down!!
This book will not disappoint. Put it in your cart right now. Like now. Why are you still reading this, let's go!
One of the best books that I've ever read! The humor is perfectly balanced with the drama as Watney's experiences on Mars unfold. I almost cried laughing at some parts because Andy Weir perfectly captured the humor of someone refusing to be defeated by the circumstances.
Let me begin by saying this: I am not much of a reader. I find it hard to regularly sit down and read a book. This is not the case for this book. Despite it's unfortunately large amount of vulgarity, I found this book incredibly interesting, thought-invoking, and often hilarious to say the least. As I read this book, I found myself really enjoying Mark’s lighthearted sarcasm to be quite enjoyable, Weir expertly blends humor with what would otherwise be despair and hopelessness. From Mark’s unexpected Hab disasters to losing communications with the only human contact he had, I found myself subconsciously cheering for Mark. Weir did a fantastic job of making his solutions to problems exciting and interesting. I loved how Weir carefully analyzed and explained how each situation developed. It was fun to see how the plausible science behind each event worked itself out. Ultimately, it was Weir's immense attention to details that made this book very interesting, and it was Weir's ability to bring humor and sarcasm into the mix that made it enjoyable. Lastly, Weir did an excellent job answering the questions that one might have about the kind of emotional and physical toll that such a situation as Mark Watney's would have on any human. Weir answered these questions through Mark Watney's character and all of his other supporting characters. From the thoughts and feelings of Mark's fellow crew members to those of the concerned members of NASA back on Earth, Weir really captured the shock and awe of Mark Watney's dire situation. In addition, his characters like Venkat Kapoor and Teddy Sanders at NASA proved as powerful reminders of a human's basic desire to help one another. This book is a fun, quick, and overall fantastic read for anyone - as long as you're willing to put up with a slight excess of vulgarity.
You have gotta read this book before seeing the movie. Andy Weir has done an excellent job on developing the characters and keeping the plot moving.