This weekend's release of the film version of The Martian, starring Matt Damon, has thus far received almost universal acclaim. This makes me happy because the book lends itself to a film adaptation. In fact, it screamed "Make me into a movie!" when I read it on vacation a few months back. From the hype and reviews of the film, it sounds like they got it right. Now it is my hope people will go back to read the book because it is terrific. Author Andy Weir has given us an engrossing, wildly funny, and action-packed story.
Mark Watney is a crew member on a Mars mission when a violent storm separates him from his crew who, thinking him dead, abort their mission and head back to Earth. As you can guess, Mark isn't dead and now he's stuck alone on Mars and must fend for himself. It is a bit Robinson Crusoe on Mars though fortunately not this Robinson Crusoe on Mars. Watney is a plucky sort as well as a very able scientist who can assess his situation and work toward his goal of staying alive. His other challenge is to find a way to communicate with Earth to let them know he's very much alive and really needs a lift home.
Weir is a first-time novelist who never thought The Martian would get published, so much so, he posted the book online for free before an agent made hay with the book and turned it into a bestseller. In interviews, Weir talks about how hard he worked on the science of the book and it shows. While some of it was well over my head, it only slowed down the pace of the book a wee bit. Readers smarter than me may not be slowed down at all.
Provided director Ridley Scott has done his job successfully, and by all accounts, he has, audiences will be cheering in the theaters much like I did in a Nags Head beach house. The Martian is a great, big, rousing success of a story, book, and author. Don't just see the movie. Read the book.