Andy Weir – The Martian Audiobook
Under the threat of a violent sandstorm, the crew of Ares 3, on a mission to Mars, are forced to shell themselves in an emergency. During the evacuation, Mark Watney is injured by a twirling parable and left for dead on the red planet. But Mark is alive, and he will have to face alone the biggest challenge of the solar system: to survive in a super-hostile environment with limited resources and without any means to communicate with the Earth.
What follows is a race against the clock, an incredible series of tests won thanks to unparalleled ingenuity, unwavering determination, and 6 billion people in solidarity, united around a supreme objective: to save the cosmonaut Watney. Yes, this is the time when I will become almost as sarcastic as Mark Watney. If the novel is technically very realistic, this story of mutual aid and federation between peoples is much less so. In Mark’s world, humans are brave and generous, willing to sacrifice years of life and billions of dollars to save a single person. As long as we’re stuck in history, we don’t really pay attention, but looking back, it seems a bit easy. Another not very credible aspect: the secondary characters, not very representative of reality and totally clichés. As the hero is a white guy, the author decided that the commander of the ship would be a woman and the staff of NASA, a Benetton ad (with the exception of the big boss, do not mess around).
The story The Martian is written by Andy Weir in “Logbook” mode, sometimes bordering on the telegraphic style. Mark is the one telling the story, and inevitably, he writes as he speaks: “Damn ! We must quickly extract this CO2 from the atmosphere of Habitat!” It is very effective: we are immersed directly in the action, there is practically no downtime. The adventures follow one another at a frantic pace and it is difficult to put the book down. Nothing to say about that side. But it is also very cold and arid. There is more liquid water on Mars than poetry in this book. If you did not like Flaubert, you will appreciate here the total absence of introductory scenes. The author does not even take the time to set the scene. At least, in the film, you will have one or two shots of Martian landscapes. The only descriptions in the book are technical: you will know how long a water recycler cycle lasts or what parts of the rover can be used to make a solar toaster. I like Hard S-F, but here we are at ground zero of poetry. 100% technical and 0% literary, Seul sur Mars is too factual and less detailed than a film script. Well, add to that that I made the mistake of reading it in French … I do not overwhelm the translator, the book is poorly written from the start.
To make us understand that the story is super well documented and super-realistic, the author spends his time making detailed calculations without much interest in the development of the plot. The process could be tedious if it were not repeated dozens of times. The author is a computer programmer and frankly, it shows. He must live in fear of being caught in default on a technical aspect of his work by a revenge geek. Some examples copied and pasted from this page:
I need 1,500 calories a day and I have four hundred days of food to start. How many calories do I need to produce per day during this period in order to last a thousand.
Okay, let’s admit that I cultivate the aforementioned surface. It seems reasonable to me. Where will I find the water I need? To go from sixty-two to one hundred and twenty-six square meters of earth by ten centimeters thick, I will need 6.4 cubic meters of additional soil – from work to shovel! – and more than two hundred and fifty liters of water.
My idea is to get six hundred liters of water – using hydrogen from hydrazine. Which means I need three hundred liters of liquid O2. I can create O2 quite easily. In twenty-four hours, the VAM fuel plant fills a ten-liter tank of CO2. The oxygenator will transform this CO2 into O2; the atmospheric regulator of the Habitat, noting an excessively high oxygen concentration, will store it in the main tanks. Once these are full, I will have to transfer the O2 to the tanks of the rovers, or even combinations if necessary. However, the process is slow. At the rate of half a liter per hour, it will take me 25 days to produce all the oxygen I need.