It is hard sometimes not to watch a famous movie within reading a book, because all around you are talking about it. So it was like maybe 2 years ago that I watched the movie and I was amazed since I really like Cosmos stories. So I knew that I will at some point read a book.
And eventually, it happened. This summer I bought a book and decided to read it immediately. I was afraid at first that since I watched the movie it will spoil the impression. But it happened something really opposite.
This book was written by Andy Weir, a software engineer and a big lover of Cosmos. He used a lot, a lot, a loooot of professional terms, of course, they had explanations like footnote but I was thinking about this a lot, and I figured out that I kind of find that easy because of the movie. And it was easier to put all of this together in my head and understand it. For example, there is a lot of chemical terms and reactions, that is unknown for me, and reading it even with the whole process would be hard and understandable if I did not watch the movie. So, for me, the book and movie are two inseparable pieces, and one without another is less interesting. So I think that a movie is just helpful to watch before reading the book.
So I gave the four stars to the book. I enjoyed it, and it was really good, but for my taste, too much professional, and I think that this four stars would not be here without the movie. And for the movie I gave 5. 🙂
In 2035, the crew of NASA’s Ares 3 mission has arrived at Acidalia Planitia for a planned month-long stay on Mars. After only six sols, an intense dust and wind storm threatens to topple their Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV), trapping them on the planet. During the hurried evacuation, an antenna tears loose and impales astronaut Mark Watney, a botanist and engineer, also disabling his spacesuit radio. He is flung out of sight by the wind and presumed dead. As the MAV teeters dangerously, mission commander Melissa Lewis has no choice but to take off without searching for Watney.
However, Watney is not dead. His injury proves relatively minor, but with no long-range radio, he cannot communicate with anyone. He must rely on his own resourcefulness to survive. He begins a log of his experiences. His philosophy is to “work the problem”, solving each challenge in turn as it confronts him. With food a critical, though not immediate, problem, he begins growing potatoes in the crew’s Martian habitat (the Hab), and burns hydrazine to generate water for the plants.
NASA eventually discovers that Watney is alive when satellite images of the landing site show evidence of his activities; they begin devising ways to rescue him, but withhold the news of his survival from the rest of the Ares 3 crew, on their way back to Earth aboard the Hermes spacecraft, so as not to distract them.
Watney plans to drive 3,200 km (2,000 mi) to Schiaparelli crater where the next mission, Ares 4, will land in four years and their MAV is already pre-positioned. He begins modifying one of the rovers for the journey, adding solar cells and an additional battery. He makes a three-week test drive to recover the unmanned Pathfinder lander and Sojourner rover and brings them back to the Hab, enabling him to contact NASA. Mitch Henderson, the Ares 3 flight director, convinces NASA Administrator Teddy Sanders to allow him to inform the Ares 3 crew of Watney’s survival; they are thrilled, except for Lewis, who is guilt-stricken at leaving him behind.
The canvas at one of the Hab airlocks tears due to Watney’s repeated use of the airlock, decompressing the Hab and nearly killing him. He repairs the Hab, but his plants are dead, threatening him again with eventual starvation. Setting aside safety protocols due to time constraints, NASA hastily prepares an unmanned probe to send Watney supplies, but the rocket disintegrates after liftoff. A deal with the China National Space Administration provides a ready booster—planned for use with the Taiyang Shen, an unmanned probe—to try again. With no time to build a probe with a soft-landing system, NASA is faced with the prospect of building a capsule whose cargo can survive crashing into the Martian surface at 300 meters per second (670 mph).
However, astrodynamicist Rich Purnell devises a “slingshot” trajectory around Earth for a gravity assist that could get Hermes back to Mars on a much-extended mission to save Watney, using the Chinese rocket booster to send a simpler resupply probe to Hermes as it passes Earth. Sanders vetoes the “Rich Purnell Maneuver”, as it would entail risking the other crewmembers, but Henderson secretly emails the details to Hermes. All five of Watney’s crewmates approve the plan. Once they begin the maneuver (and disable NASA’s remote overrides), NASA has no choice but to support them. The resupply ship docks with Hermes successfully.
Watney resumes modifying the rover because the new rescue plan requires him to lift off from Mars in the Ares 4 MAV. While working on the rover, Watney accidentally shorts out the electronics of Pathfinder, losing the ability to communicate with Earth (except for spelling out Morse code with rocks).
After Watney leaves for Schiaparelli, NASA discovers that a dust storm is approaching his path, but has no way to warn him. The rover’s solar cells will be less and less able to recharge, endangering both the rendezvous and his immediate survival (if there is not enough power to run his life-support equipment). While crossing Arabia Terra, Watney becomes aware of the darkening sky and improvises a rough measurement of the storm’s shape and direction of movement, enabling him to go around it.
Surviving a rover rollover on his descent into Schiaparelli, Watney reaches the MAV and reestablishes contact with NASA. He receives instructions on the radical modifications necessary to reduce the MAV’s weight to enable it to intercept Hermes during its flyby. The modifications include removing the front of the MAV, which Watney has to cover with Hab canvas. After takeoff, the canvas tears, creating extra drag and leaving the MAV too low for the rendezvous. Lewis hastily improvises a plan to intercept the MAV by firing Hermes‘attitude thrusters and then blowing a hole in the front airlock with an improvised sugar-and-liquid-oxygen bomb, using the thrust from the escaping air to reduce speed. Beck, the Hermes‘ EVA specialist, uses a Manned Maneuvering Unit, MMU, on a tether to reach Watney and bring him back to Hermes. In a final log entry, Watney expresses his joy at being rescued, reflecting on the human instinct to help those in need.