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JackieLikesVariety
06-27-2014, 03:36 PM
I searched and don't see this book mentioned so I'll do it here: if you like Science Fiction, you will want to read this book.

The Martian (http://www.amazon.com/Martian-Andy-Weir-ebook/dp/B00EMXBDMA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1403897639&sr=8-1&keywords=the+martian)

go read it and come back so we can talk about it. I'll wait.

and a Thank You to Tuckerfan for suggesting it.

Snowboarder Bo
06-27-2014, 03:43 PM
I don't have a kindle and don't care for reading books on my iPad anyway, but I did order the hardcover. I'll check back in after I've read it; hopefully middle or end of next week.

Dung Beetle
06-27-2014, 03:51 PM
I read it and liked it but had to skim some of the complicated stuff in the interest of just finding out what happened next! Had it been me I’d have spent a lot more time thinking about the amazing/fucked up aspects of the whole situation, than you know, actually doing anything about it.

Peter Morris
06-27-2014, 04:58 PM
This would be the same Andy Weir that gave us the fabulous Casey and Andy and Cheshire Crossing.

It goes next on my to read list.

enipla
06-27-2014, 05:17 PM
Looks good. I did JUST start another book, but I ordered The Martian. Love having plenty to read, thanks.

eburacum45
06-27-2014, 05:18 PM
This is a very good book; the Mars technology and planetology is impeccable. Makes me want to go there and grow potatoes.

JackieLikesVariety
06-27-2014, 05:30 PM
I read it and liked it but had to skim some of the complicated stuff in the interest of just finding out what happened next! Had it been me I’d have spent a lot more time thinking about the amazing/fucked up aspects of the whole situation, than you know, actually doing anything about it.

I mostly didn't do this, although I am usually all about What Happens Next and not so much for the details. while this book was all about the details.

mostly, the author made it interesting, IMO, and mostly explained "the complicated stuff" in a way that was readable.

Makes me want to go there and grow potatoes. does this board have spoilers? well, I don't see where. made me want to grow some potatoes, too.

jharvey963
06-27-2014, 06:10 PM
I finished it a couple of months ago, after hearing an interview with the author on the radio or a podcast or something. It's a great hard-science, near-future tale. Reminded me a little of Heinlein or Steven Gould (wrote "Jumper"). It takes you into the mind of the main character and describes his thought process for how he figured out the problems he was facing.

I had a hard time putting it down, since I like stories about smart characters overcoming their problems.

I recommend it highly.

J.

Bryan Ekers
06-27-2014, 06:12 PM
does this board have spoilers? well, I don't see where. made me want to grow some potatoes, too.

Put {SPOILER} / {/SPOILER} tags (replace the curly bracket with square ones, i.e. [ and ] ) around the content you wish to conceal, so if someone clicks and finds out
MARS IS MADE OUT OF PEOPLE!!!

...it's their own damn fault. Make sure to preview before posting to confirm the formatting is correct.

JackieLikesVariety
06-27-2014, 07:13 PM
OK, I'll give it a whirl

it made me sad when the potato plants died!

Broomstick
06-27-2014, 07:59 PM
I bought the e-book some weeks ago and devoured the novel pretty quickly. Definitely hard science fiction, which isn't as common as I'd like it to be. I definitely recommend it.

susan
06-27-2014, 11:57 PM
I enjoyed it, and hope the movie stays relatively true to the book.

RandMcnally
06-28-2014, 01:02 AM
This would be the same Andy Weir that gave us the fabulous Casey and Andy and Cheshire Crossing.

It goes next on my to read list.

I've been meaning to read this for months. I'll start this weekend so I can play.

And I had boo idea that this was the same guy. I've read Casey and Andy multiple times.

araminty
06-28-2014, 01:30 AM
I read it, it was OK.

Couldn't tell if the author was being mannered and trying a bit too hard to write in the character's style, or if that was the author's voice. I'm not often a fan of the epistolary novel for this reason.

Some of the science was flat-out wrong, I can't recall what - probably the biology/potato growing, since that's more my field. Oh, I think it was something to do with pathogens in faeces. Yeah. Urgh. And wrong.

JackieLikesVariety
06-29-2014, 09:25 AM
here is a review I feel like sharing

“A book I just couldn’t put down! It has the very rare combination of a good, original story, interestingly real characters and fascinating technical accuracy…reads like “MacGyver” meets “Mysterious Island.”
— Astronaut Chris Hadfield, Commander of the International Space Station and author of An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth

susan
06-29-2014, 11:03 AM
Some of the science was flat-out wrong, I can't recall what - probably the biology/potato growing, since that's more my field.I looked up the wind speed and found it higher than my admittedly cursory internet search suggested for Mars.

Bryan Ekers
06-29-2014, 11:54 AM
here is a review I feel like sharing

“A book I just couldn’t put down! It has the very rare combination of a good, original story, interestingly real characters and fascinating technical accuracy…reads like “MacGyver” meets “Mysterious Island.”
— Astronaut Chris Hadfield, Commander of the International Space Station and author of An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth


Well, when Chris Hadfield says he can't put a book down, you have to make sure he's in a gravity well at the time.

eburacum45
06-30-2014, 12:46 PM
I am fairly sure that missions to Mars will include some safe way to recycle human faeces into fertiliser - maybe not on the first mission, but probably on subsequent missions. Any viable CELSS would rely on this sort of recycling.

Stuffy
06-30-2014, 03:31 PM
I read this a few month back, truly great, I devoured it in a day or two. I also agree with the crowd, it's got a hard sci-fi element to it, and the ending is hilarious. There is also a story I read last year that reminds me a lot of this story. In it, a contest winner gets a ride to orbit and ends up stuck there...that sound familiar to anyone?

iiandyiiii
06-30-2014, 03:37 PM
I really enjoyed it. Very realistic sci-fi, or at least it was written in a way that made it seem very realistic.

pinkfreud
06-30-2014, 04:02 PM
There is also a story I read last year that reminds me a lot of this story. In it, a contest winner gets a ride to orbit and ends up stuck there...that sound familiar to anyone?Orbit, by John J. Nance?

Omar Little
06-30-2014, 04:26 PM
I read it last year, when it was just an ebook, before he got it picked up by a publisher. It was a definite page turner hard science fiction, with snarky humor thrown in.

Good read.

turner
07-03-2014, 06:14 PM
I just finished. What a great book. I like the reaction of the main character. I thought that was very realistic--"I'm fucked. I don't have a choice, how can I fix it. What a pain in the ass that was, but I made it." I Don't usually get emotionally attached to a book character, but I couldn't help share his emotional rollercoaster.

BrainGlutton
07-03-2014, 07:45 PM
Is this the same Andy Weir who used to do "Casey and Andy" (http://www.galactanet.com/comic/)?

Peter Morris
07-03-2014, 10:22 PM
yes it is.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/forum/cd/discussion.html/ref=ntt_mus_ep_cd_tft_tp?ie=UTF8&cdForum=Fx1LQO2I51UNLHM&cdThread=Tx255EZCMGTS6G1

Learjeff
07-06-2014, 11:12 AM
Great book! I'd have read it in one session, but I had to work the next day so got some sleep.

I have a few technical nits to pick, just for the fun of it. Should I do that here or another thread? It'd be a pain to discuss everything in spoilers.

(Most of these "nits" are more like questions than criticisms. As in "What would 120MPH wind feel like in 1% atmosphere?")

Attack from the 3rd dimension
07-06-2014, 12:24 PM
Thanks for the recommendation. I just finished it, and thought it was quite good. Now I've got to find the other stuff he's written.

JackieLikesVariety
07-06-2014, 12:43 PM
Should I do that here or another thread? It'd be a pain to discuss everything in spoilers.

I think here is fine, go for it

Peter Morris
07-06-2014, 01:11 PM
Now I've got to find the other stuff he's written.

He's written a couple of webcomics that you might like to check out.

Casey and Andy (http://www.galactanet.com/comic/view.php?strip=1), loosely based on himself and his real life best friend.

Cheshire Crossing (http://www.cheshirecrossing.net/), a crossover between several famous classic works.

BrainGlutton
10-01-2014, 03:07 PM
Here's one thing that's got me puzzled: The whole story depends on a storm that threatened the astronauts' camp. But, if the air pressure on Mars is so low, how strong can the winds be?

emarkp
10-01-2014, 03:13 PM
Weir mentioned in a podcast (http://twit.tv/show/triangulation/163) that the storm is the one science fudge he did intentionally. He had a scenario for a technical glitch, but because the story was essentially "man vs. nature" the storm was thematically better.

Smeghead
10-01-2014, 04:32 PM
I got the audio book of this last time this thread was bumped up, and really loved it. It hovered right on the edge of being overly ridiculous (what, yet ANOTHER disaster so incredibly life-threatening that there's no way he could possibly survive??), but I enjoyed seeing him systematically work through each one in turn, bit by bit.

susan
10-01-2014, 10:25 PM
Storms don't get that fast on Mars. I looked it up because it seemed wrong to me.

emarkp
10-02-2014, 12:01 PM
I got the audio book of this last time this thread was bumped up, and really loved it. It hovered right on the edge of being overly ridiculous (what, yet ANOTHER disaster so incredibly life-threatening that there's no way he could possibly survive??), but I enjoyed seeing him systematically work through each one in turn, bit by bit.
Pretty much the same here. I'm a software engineer, and it seemed to scratch right where the problem-solving part of my brain itches. Turns out Weir is in software as well.

epbrown01
10-02-2014, 01:45 PM
Pretty much the same here. I'm a software engineer, and it seemed to scratch right where the problem-solving part of my brain itches. Turns out Weir is in software as well.

That's what I liked about it (and Gould's latest Jumper novel "Exo") - they reminded me of old sci-fi I've read where the adventure was in problem solving rather than killing aliens (more prevalent post Star Wars, imo). A really old favorite of mine is "Two Men and a Mirror" with two guys trapped on a nearly friction-less surface.

Learjeff
10-02-2014, 05:00 PM
Here's one thing that's got me puzzled: The whole story depends on a storm that threatened the astronauts' camp. But, if the air pressure on Mars is so low, how strong can the winds be?That was my first question!

Weir mentioned in a podcast (http://twit.tv/show/triangulation/163) that the storm is the one science fudge he did intentionally. He had a scenario for a technical glitch, but because the story was essentially "man vs. nature" the storm was thematically better.Good answer. :-) Thanks!

Storms don't get that fast on Mars. I looked it up because it seemed wrong to me.Well, Viking measured 60 MPH, so 100 MPH isn't too far out of the question. But I doubt that would have much force. Of course, there is a V^2 term (or a V^3 term for power -- right?) but still, I'd guess that a 100 MPH wind with a 1% atmosphere would balance out to around the equivalent of a 10 MPH wind here on Earth. (Folks who can actually do the math, please fight my ignorance!)

Now, if the air is full of dust, that might increase the effect a bit. But still I wouldn't expect it to be so severe. In any case, Weir acknowledges that, and it makes for a good story.

Unfortunately I can no longer remember my other questions. I guess I'll just have to read it again!

Learjeff
10-02-2014, 05:03 PM
That's what I liked about it (and Gould's latest Jumper novel "Exo") - they reminded me of old sci-fi I've read where the adventure was in problem solving rather than killing aliens (more prevalent post Star Wars, imo). A really old favorite of mine is "Two Men and a Mirror" with two guys trapped on a nearly friction-less surface.I think that's more of a "geek vs pop" distinction than a "then vs now" one. Buck Rogers was more of the alien shooting, wasn't it?

I really like the ones where we get both aspects combined, like Alien and The Thing.

But this sure was a great book. I'd have read it in one sitting, except I had to go to work!

kaylasdad99
10-03-2014, 09:19 AM
What I don't get is: why didn't he just build a Potato-Plants-Surviv-O-Mat?

MaxTheVool
10-04-2014, 11:29 AM
Ridley Scott is adapting it into a movie (http://www.avclub.com/article/jeff-daniels-joins-ridley-scotts-martian-210096), with Matt Damon as the protagonist, and a bunch of other good actors and actresses. I think there's some potential.

emarkp
10-04-2014, 11:47 PM
Will Matt Damon be in blackface, or did they whitewash the part? (I'm actually kidding here. Yes, the protagonist is black in the book, but I don't require that to be unchanged in an adaptation.)

Peter Morris
10-05-2014, 12:15 AM
Is he? I don't recall any comment about that.

RandMcnally
10-05-2014, 12:35 AM
I don't remember that at all.

emarkp
10-05-2014, 01:50 AM
<shrug> I listened to the audible version. I remember distinctly thinking, "Oh, I didn't think of a race at all. Didn't picture him as black." Since I have ample evidence that my memory isn't perfect, I could be wrong. But I could have sworn it was the case.

Measure for Measure
10-05-2014, 02:46 AM
385 pages of gallows humor. My kinda book. Recommended.


A search on the book for "African" found nothing. A search for "black" found 6 results, none of them relating to ethnic background.

Peter Morris
10-05-2014, 07:02 AM
Ah, I've been trying to find a pdf copy to consult, but no success. There's a few other words you might try: color, ethnic, negro, race.

Smeghead
10-05-2014, 08:28 AM
I have no memory of any mention of race at all.

turner
10-05-2014, 11:14 AM
I pictured him as Caucasian because he "sounds" like Harry Dresden

StarvingButStrong
11-30-2014, 11:00 AM
Late to the party but I picked this up yesterday --- and finished reading it at 4:30 a.m.

I'll be suffering for the missed sleep later, but it was totally worth. One thought that kept recurring was how much Heinlein would have loved it.

gregorio
12-02-2014, 03:50 PM
Well he pulls a Heinlein at one point to save himself. I think there are a few other sci fi shoutouts, but can't remember the details, dammit. And I just put the book down. Maybe I read it too fast.

Wow that was fun!

Peter Morris
12-02-2014, 04:30 PM
Well he pulls a Heinlein at one point to save himself.

Explain, please :confused:

gregorio
12-03-2014, 01:40 PM
Are we spoilering still?


I can't find it, but isn't there a chapter where a Heinlein hero (and the girl?) are stranded on the moon in an emergency shelter? They walk themselves to safety by rolling the tent like a human hamster ball. I remember nudity and perhaps talk of dangerous sunburn, the tent being transparent.

Watney uses a similar method to move his separated, sealed airlock tunnel back to the HAB. Although it is not such a cake-walk.

Someone will come along soon to cite the book, chapter and pages where this happens I am sure.

jharvey963
12-03-2014, 01:46 PM
This book won the GoodReads (http://www.goodreads.com/choiceawards/best-books-2014?utm_campaign=winners&utm_content=view_winners&utm_medium=email&utm_source=GRCA_2014)choice awards for best science fiction novel of 2014. I think it deserved it IMHO.

J.

Sam Stone
12-08-2014, 02:47 PM
I just finished this book, and loved every page of it. It had a very 'Heinlein' feel to it. In particular, the method of cultivating the soil was described almost exactly the same as in 'Farmer in the Sky'. Weir has said that the Heinlein Juveniles were his favorite books, and that if he could only take one book on a desert island it would be "Tunnel in the Sky'.

Anyway, great book. Any nits with technical inaccuracy have to be forgiven since it's one of the most technically accurate SF books I've ever read. Weir said he even wrote his own software to calculate the orbital parameters of ships under constant acceleration in order to get it all exactly right. Reminds me of Robert and Ginny Heinlein spending days calculating orbits for his own books.

WordMan
09-18-2015, 07:57 AM
Will Matt Damon be in blackface, or did they whitewash the part? (I'm actually kidding here. Yes, the protagonist is black in the book, but I don't require that to be unchanged in an adaptation.)

Reviving this old thread because it is about the book, not the movie or the book's adaptability.

I just finished it. Loved it in for all of it's hard sci-fi goodness. Hope the movie works; given the players, there is a possibility!

As for the issue whether Watney is African American, no clue - I don't recall any indication of race. I noticed, though, that 3 times in the book, he referred to his jury-rigged, kludged-together creations as "ghetto." I think the rover he built out, and the Hab after he took a chunk of canvas out for the portable bedroom he built, then glued the Hab back together, etc.

I noticed the use of the word enough for it to stick with me when I went and searched for an SDMB thread on the book, found this, and saw the post above. Other than that, I found his tone to be fun and snarky.

ElvisL1ves
09-18-2015, 09:22 AM
Will Matt Damon be in blackface, or did they whitewash the part? (I'm actually kidding here. Steely-eyed missile man Rich Purnell is black in the film, but Weir did not mention his race in the book, either. The Indian program head at NASA, Kapoor, will also be played by a black actor.

Randolph
09-18-2015, 01:17 PM
They're taking over!

Irishman
09-18-2015, 03:43 PM
I read it. I loved it. There were a few science bits that were questionable, especially the violence of the first storm, but overall it felt genuine. He really did know a lot about his space hardware and systems and stuff.

There was a minor quibble that one mention of the astronaut boots on the space ship being magnetic. Not that they couldn't be, but current boots aren't and it really isn't necessary, and later it isn't mentioned for the later spacewalk. Would have been better to go with foot restraints, but it didn't really detract from the story.


What I don't get is: why didn't he just build a Potato-Plants-Surviv-O-Mat?

A what? How? He needed all the floorspace and more to grow the potatoes.

Will Matt Damon be in blackface, or did they whitewash the part? (I'm actually kidding here. Yes, the protagonist is black in the book, but I don't require that to be unchanged in an adaptation.)

I also don't recall any mention of race for the main character. The NASA PR lady is mentioned as being blond, the woman doing the telemetry download and processing is Asian, and the program head is Kapoor, which is an Indian name, but that's all I recall.

As for the issue whether Watney is African American, no clue - I don't recall any indication of race. I noticed, though, that 3 times in the book, he referred to his jury-rigged, kludged-together creations as "ghetto." I think the rover he built out, and the Hab after he took a chunk of canvas out for the portable bedroom he built, then glued the Hab back together, etc.

That's hardly a telling point. "Ghetto" has entered the lexicon as a phrase to mean run down and trashy. So much that an open letter in the local community newspaper from the neighborhood community used it to describe people putting out their large trash items early.

ElvisL1ves
09-18-2015, 04:24 PM
Weir has said he wishes he hadn't chosen the windstorm, and if he could rewrite it, he'd use an engine test failure instead. Don't know why that change didn't get into the film script, though.

Miller
09-18-2015, 04:45 PM
A what? How? He needed all the floorspace and more to grow the potatoes.

It's a reference to a repeated theme in Weir's first webcomic, Casey and Andy (http://www.galactanet.com/comic/view.php?strip=15).

zwede
09-18-2015, 06:20 PM
Weir has said he wishes he hadn't chosen the windstorm, and if he could rewrite it, he'd use an engine test failure instead. Don't know why that change didn't get into the film script, though.

Not in the interviews I've watched. In those he said he was well aware that a Mars dust storm will never feel like more than a slight breeze, but he intentionally stretched the truth for dramatic purposes. He initially had an engine failure in its place but went with the (unrealistic) storm as he wanted it to be a "man vs nature" story, rather than "man vs machine".

ElvisL1ves
09-18-2015, 07:12 PM
How about this one? (http://www.spaceflightinsider.com/editorial/preview-andy-weirs-the-martian/) About two seconds Googling.

In fact, when SpaceFlight Insider and USA in Space asked Weir if he would change anything in the movie, he told us, “Yeah, I’d replace the sandstorm at the beginning with an engine test failure. A real Martian sandstorm can’t cause damage like what’s shown in the story.”
As for why the movie has a storm too:
“Mostly, my job was just to cash the check,” Weir said when he was asked if had been involved with the movie’s development. “Though they did send me the screenplay to get my opinion. They are not required to listen to anything I have to say. They keep me updated on the production because they’re cool.”

zwede
09-18-2015, 07:56 PM
How about this one? (http://www.spaceflightinsider.com/editorial/preview-andy-weirs-the-martian/) About two seconds Googling.

Rather than relying on a quote, here's the man himself:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9-oaje-I-A

Go to 39:50 and he says exactly what I posted above.

zwede
09-18-2015, 08:18 PM
Missed the edit window: Of course it is perfectly plausible he said both things. We humans are not terrible consistent.

Irishman
09-18-2015, 08:48 PM
Both are probably true. He originally planned the engine test, opted to change to the sandstorm for dramatic purposes, but now feels it was a mistake.

Sherrerd
09-24-2015, 04:53 PM
Both are probably true. He originally planned the engine test, opted to change to the sandstorm for dramatic purposes, but now feels it was a mistake.

I agree with him; it weakens the book because even readers less-knowledgeable about science will find it decidedly odd that the chances of another punishing-winds storm is never, ever mentioned in the book. (All there is, is the chance of a sunlight-blocking storm.)

I just read the book, and found it highly entertaining. But at the risk of offending many--this book is beloved--I can't help pointing out what seem to me to be fairly gigantic plot holes:


***In the first quarter of the book, roughly, Watney's thoughts and actions center on the goal of making the epic and wildly-dangerous journey to the Ares 4 site, so that he can be picked up by the Ares 4 crew when they arrive, years hence. It NEVER occurs to him that any other option is possible--because it never occurs to him that NASA will know he's alive, until that years-in-the-future moment when Ares 4 arrives. We are asked to believe that either Watney didn't realize that images of Mars were being continuously sent to Earth by satellites, or that Watney assumed that no images of the Ares 3 area would ever be looked at. Or that he had no idea that anything he could do would show up on the images (that is, that he was clueless about the resolution of the images).

All these are ridiculously implausible. The 'Watney assumes no one can figure out he's alive until Ares 4 arrives' contrivance is purely there to create suspense and drama (against all odds, a lowly tech realizes that WATNEY IS ALIVE!!1!!!!!!1)

***The plot establishes that the series of Mars landings are supported by many--14--pre-landing, unmanned missions that deliver the supplies needed to sustain the crews--missions that take place over a swath of time. This makes it clear that the safest (by far) way to get Watney back home safely, is to divert some planned unmanned supply missions to dump their contents nearer Ares 3 (where Watney is relatively safe in his Hab), diverting them from near the planned Ares 4 site, many kilometers away. This is made explicit in the discussion of the first IRIS launch.

So why is this option--keep Watney fed and supplied via unmanned 'deliveries' so that he'll live until Ares 4 lands--abandoned so quickly, in favor of the massively-dangerous decision to keep Ares 3 going for a year longer than its physical components will be safe? Not to mention the danger in making Watney travel to the Ares 4 site?

If Weir had said "all fourteen supply missions for Ares 4 have already launched and can't be diverted," then...it wouldn't make much sense, but at least readers wouldn't be asking themselves "why don't they divert supplies to Watney?"

Yes, going for the 'divert supplies to Watney, then pick him up when Ares 4 lands' option would have meant, perhaps, that the planned Ares 4 mission would not be able to do the science it was designed to do--and even could have meant bumping one of the astronauts, so that bringing Watney back would be easier and safer. Why was disappointing an astronaut so unthinkable, given the severe hazards imposed on the Ares 3 people (including Watney) by the 'return of Ares 3' plan?

With our current technology we can get a rocket to Mars in six months--and there's a lot of talk about a new one that can get there in only 39 days. Yes, the rocket has to be built and supplied, and that takes time. But in this book's world, 'rockets to Mars' is an ongoing endeavor--again, FOURTEEN supply missions are routine for each of the Ares missions. Is it plausible that ALL FOURTEEN of the Ares 4 had already launched (and thus couldn't be diverted) so soon after Ares 3 landed?

Weir didn't establish that. He didn't establish that it was really impossible to send Watney any supplies. I realize he was trying to imply that with the failure of the IRIS mission (really? protein bars turning to sludge? they had no idea that would happen?), and the resort to a Chinese launch. But in a world he created-- a world in which an ongoing Mars program had unmanned missions in such large numbers (for five Ares missions, that's at least SEVENTY launches in the works within a few years!)--he really didn't set up "the best chance to save Watney is to make him travel 3200 kilometers in dangerous conditions."

Yes, again: I realize that it was the Ares 3 crew itself that imposed the dangers on themselves (and on Watney, by forcing him to journey to the 4 site). But why did no one at NASA say 'we have time to divert some of the 14 unmanned Ares-4-supply missions, and even some of the planned Ares 5 supply missions, so they'll land closer to Watney, and he can live on what we'll send until Ares 4 lands'.......?? The answer, obviously, is that if the Ares 3 crew knew that, they would have said 'thank Rich Purnell, but Watney will have a better chance by waiting for the Ares 4.'

In other words, to make the plot work, the characters had to be stupid.

What I'm saying is that these things come off as plot contrivances of an unappealing sort.

But I guess the level of starvation for pure science fiction is high enough that a lot of people are willing to overlook such bad (plot) engineering. (Sorry, had to say it.)

Irishman
09-24-2015, 06:48 PM
I just read the book, and found it highly entertaining. But at the risk of offending many--this book is beloved--I can't help pointing out what seem to me to be fairly gigantic plot holes:

You have some valid points.


***In the first quarter of the book, roughly, Watney's thoughts and actions center on the goal of making the epic and wildly-dangerous journey to the Ares 4 site, so that he can be picked up by the Ares 4 crew when they arrive, years hence. It NEVER occurs to him that any other option is possible--because it never occurs to him that NASA will know he's alive, until that years-in-the-future moment when Ares 4 arrives. We are asked to believe that either Watney didn't realize that images of Mars were being continuously sent to Earth by satellites, or that Watney assumed that no images of the Ares 3 area would ever be looked at. Or that he had no idea that anything he could do would show up on the images (that is, that he was clueless about the resolution of the images).

Okay, here Weir is relying on most of the audience's lack of information. I suppose it could be forgiven by a couple of points. First, Watney is rather busy thinking up how to stay alive, he can be forgiven for not remembering details of satellite imagery. Second, without any way of being contacted by anyone else, he has no way of knowing what they know. Sure, he could set up a bright beacon (hab cloth/rocks) or some other signal, but without any means to relay plans to him, he has to plan as if he is on his own. Up until a cargo pod lands near him, at any rate.


***The plot establishes that the series of Mars landings are supported by many--14--pre-landing, unmanned missions that deliver the supplies needed to sustain the crews--missions that take place over a swath of time. This makes it clear that the safest (by far) way to get Watney back home safely, is to divert some planned unmanned supply missions to dump their contents nearer Ares 3 (where Watney is relatively safe in his Hab), diverting them from near the planned Ares 4 site, many kilometers away. This is made explicit in the discussion of the first IRIS launch.

So why is this option--keep Watney fed and supplied via unmanned 'deliveries' so that he'll live until Ares 4 lands--abandoned so quickly, in favor of the massively-dangerous decision to keep Ares 3 going for a year longer than its physical components will be safe? Not to mention the danger in making Watney travel to the Ares 4 site?

[snip]

Yes, going for the 'divert supplies to Watney, then pick him up when Ares 4 lands' option would have meant, perhaps, that the planned Ares 4 mission would not be able to do the science it was designed to do--and even could have meant bumping one of the astronauts, so that bringing Watney back would be easier and safer. Why was disappointing an astronaut so unthinkable, given the severe hazards imposed on the Ares 3 people (including Watney) by the 'return of Ares 3' plan?

The problem you seem to be forgetting is that Watney's food supply will run out prior to any resupply rocket having a chance to arrive. It is only by virtue of growing potatoes that he has a chance to make it that long, and then the hab failure ruins that and puts him on a shorter timetable again. They have no time to build another launcher or delivery vehicle in the time window to allow it to get there before he runs out of food. That's why they start planning the really cheap lithobraked (i.e. crashlanded) resupply of protein bars.

Option A: rush like hell to make a food delivery crash lander that consists of protein mush that he somehow will still be able to eat. If that one gets there, then they'll have time for more resupply vehicles to follow.

Option B: Redirect the orbital transfer vehicle that still has some velocity and send it now instead of later on a return to Mars trajectory for recovery.

Option B is taken by the astronauts in the vehicle, forcing that result. Option A is only safer if that first food delivery works, and that is not very certain. They already had one launch failure due to rushing.

Weir does indeed suppose that the idea of truncating Ares 4 instead of making it a rescue and return mission is ridiculous to NASA. That part is questionable to say the least, but the premise he starts with is that NASA wants a plan that picks him up, and then retain the full Ares 4 mission. Of course that changes after the launch failure.

The other challenge is how to get Watney from Ares 3 site to Ares 4. The touchdown/shuttle method is crazy bad, but is necessitated by the fact that the return vehicle is already on Mars. They can't just land at Ares 3, because the return vehicle is at Ares 4, and that is what drives the need to ultimately get there.

With our current technology we can get a rocket to Mars in six months--and there's a lot of talk about a new one that can get there in only 39 days. Yes, the rocket has to be built and supplied, and that takes time. But in this book's world, 'rockets to Mars' is an ongoing endeavor--again, FOURTEEN supply missions are routine for each of the Ares missions. Is it plausible that ALL FOURTEEN of the Ares 4 had already launched (and thus couldn't be diverted) so soon after Ares 3 landed?

Watney barely had food to last until the first one could get there on a rushed timetable. They were drastically rushing the next resupply, which means none of the other 13 missions are anywhere near far enough along to matter. And then the launch failure, and then the Hab failure. If he's out of food before the rushed one can make it, any later resupplies will be even more too late.

Maybe what's throwing you is overestimating their timetable. It appears they ramp the resupply missions as the mission launch gets closer, so they haven't started working on most of the launches at all. There's only one that is close, and that one is the one they rush and blow up. Nothing else is far enough along to do any good.


I think that's your biggest complaint, and I think it was adequately explained, you just missed it somehow.

Peter Morris
09-24-2015, 07:15 PM
I think you are wrong.


We are asked to believe that either Watney didn't realize that images of Mars were being continuously sent to Earth by satellites, or that Watney assumed that no images of the Ares 3 area would ever be looked at.

On the contrary, he assumed that they would be looking at the images, he depended on it. He moved rocks on the ground to spell out messages. He went to collect the old probe to allow them to speak to him. That depends on them seeing him alive.


Watney's thoughts and actions center on the goal of making the epic and wildly-dangerous journey to the Ares 4 site, so that he can be picked up by the Ares 4 crew when they arrive, years hence .... the safest (by far) way to get Watney back home safely, is to divert some planned unmanned supply missions to dump their contents nearer Ares 3 (where Watney is relatively safe in his Hab)

If that were possible, it would feed him for a while. But he has to go to the Aries 4 site, because that is where the launch vehicle is. They can't pick him up at the Aries 3 site. It simply isn't possible.

With our current technology we can get a rocket to Mars in six months--and there's a lot of talk about a new one that can get there in only 39 days. Yes, the rocket has to be built and supplied, and that takes time.

It's not just that, there is a very specific launch window for every mission, where Earth and Mars are in optimum position for the shortest possible journey. If you miss the window you have to wait many moths for the next one. It possible that all the planned supply rockets aren't due to be launched for a couple of years, and are nowhere near ready to use yet.

Sherrerd
09-24-2015, 09:40 PM
Stuff in reply to Peter Morris, under the spoiler tags:


On the contrary, he assumed that they would be looking at the images, he depended on it. He moved rocks on the ground to spell out messages. He went to collect the old probe to allow them to speak to him. That depends on them seeing him alive.

If you look at the book again, you'll see that Watney made no rock messages during the first quarter (or so--the period during which Watney assumed no one would know he was alive until the Ares 4 arrived) of the book---which was the period about which I was saying 'this is contrived and implausible.'

So 'he made rock messages' is not a counter to my argument about that first large chunk of the book.



If that were possible, it would feed him for a while. But he has to go to the Aries 4 site, because that is where the launch vehicle is. They can't pick him up at the Aries 3 site. It simply isn't possible.

It's true that the Ares 3 can't pick Watney up at the Ares 3 site, but that's not what I was discussing. I was discussing the Ares 4 (which, at four years out, could presumably be made to land pretty much anywhere that meet the 'safe' criteria--such as 'fairly near the Ares 3 site.')



It's not just that, there is a very specific launch window for every mission, where Earth and Mars are in optimum position for the shortest possible journey. If you miss the window you have to wait many moths for the next one. It possible that all the planned supply rockets aren't due to be launched for a couple of years, and are nowhere near ready to use yet.

The information I'm seeing says that for a minimum-energy launch you would have to wait as much as two years and two months--but not more. For a launch that could consume more energy, you wouldn't have to wait that long.


Irishman, my apologies, but given the time required to make these posts properly spoiler-tagged and my wish to answer you fully, I won't get to that reply until tomorrow. (Though some of your points are answered in this post.)

Sherrerd
09-24-2015, 09:54 PM
Okay, just a quick pass: No, I'm not forgetting about the food-supply issue. What I'm saying is that given the book's premise--that 'missions to Mars' are on ongoing endeavor, with many (dozens!) of launches of unmanned supply craft being sent within a relatively small number of years--given that premise, the idea that there could be only one or two (with the help of China) attempts to supply Watney with additional food, doesn't hold up. It's basically hand-waved: some characters are distraught that the Iris protein-bar fiasco occurred, and we take that to mean that no other launches are possible.

Maybe some discussion along the lines of "this is a really unusual astronomical period during which we can't launch any of the other dozen or better unmanned supply missions that are already lined up and underway for the Ares 4 and the Ares 5 after it, even if we made a massive effort to move them up on the calendar and get the supply payload ready to go in weeks instead of the usual months" etc....maybe that would have helped. As it was, those of us who noticed the fact that Weir established in his fictional world, an ongoing program that included dozens of launches, would have been less bothered by the 'oh no, Iris failed, so we can't supply Watney with enough food to last until Ares 4 lands' development.

WordMan
09-25-2015, 07:05 AM
https://www.reddit.com/r/books/comments/3m34oc/i_am_andy_weir_author_of_the_martian_ama/

Good stuff. Seems like a nice guy, too.

oft wears hats
09-25-2015, 08:40 AM
If you look at the book again, you'll see that Watney made no rock messages during the first quarter (or so--the period during which Watney assumed no one would know he was alive until the Ares 4 arrived) of the book---which was the period about which I was saying 'this is contrived and implausible.'

So 'he made rock messages' is not a counter to my argument about that first large chunk of the book.


My understanding was that

Watney had no reason to believe that NASA would even be monitoring the Ares 3 site after the mission was scrubbed and he was believed dead. Indeed Kapoor had to convince Sanders to give him satellite time to check the Ares 3 site for salvage. Sanders had already written Ares 3 off as a complete loss and didn't want to waste expensive satellite time on it, not to mention wanting to avoid having to publish any images of Watney's corpse. Even if it's not true to what NASA would really do, it's not a huge stretch that this was standard procedure in their universe and Watney knew it.

Sure, I also expected him to try to make at least a simple message on the off chance that someone was looking, but it's also believable that he would focus his efforts into his best shot for survival: growing sufficient food to survive to Ares 4, which was the next time he was sure that they were coming back.

Still, YMMV, and I can understand how that would disrupt one's suspension of disbelief.

Peter Morris
09-25-2015, 11:04 AM
It's true that the Ares 3 can't pick Watney up at the Ares 3 site, but that's not what I was discussing. I was discussing the Ares 4 (which, at four years out, could presumably be made to land pretty much anywhere that meet the 'safe' criteria--such as 'fairly near the Ares 3 site.')



You're missing a point that Ares 4 has already landed - at least several of the 14 supply rockets have - and they landed a long way from Watney. The launch vehicle that Watney needs is already in position and can't be moved. He has to go to it.

Frazzled
09-25-2015, 02:12 PM
Weren't most of the early supply missions to each site mainly hardware that could sit on the surface for a time. It's possible food wouldn't be in any of the supply missions currently going to the Ares 4 site which is what Watney really needed most. And the radios were probably already at Ares 4 in the MAV so there may not have been anything useful on the way. You're still looking at a year minimum then to get supplies to him.

standingwave
09-25-2015, 04:49 PM
You're missing a point that Ares 4 has already landed - at least several of the 14 supply rockets have - and they landed a long way from Watney. The launch vehicle that Watney needs is already in position and can't be moved. He has to go to it.

According to the book, there's nothing at the Ares 4 site other than the MAV which the Ares 3 crew remotely landed from orbit before they descended. The MAV needs to be there longer so it can make fuel from the Martian atmosphere. Presupplies will be launched ahead of the Ares 4 crew but not four years ahead.

Irishman
09-25-2015, 11:09 PM
Okay, just a quick pass: No, I'm not forgetting about the food-supply issue. What I'm saying is that given the book's premise--that 'missions to Mars' are on ongoing endeavor, with many (dozens!) of launches of unmanned supply craft being sent within a relatively small number of years--given that premise, the idea that there could be only one or two (with the help of China) attempts to supply Watney with additional food, doesn't hold up. It's basically hand-waved: some characters are distraught that the Iris protein-bar fiasco occurred, and we take that to mean that no other launches are possible.

I thought they laid out the sequence pretty clearly.

Weir proposes that it will resemble current NASA processes, that these will be largely sequential. Landers and launchers may be parallel, but they merge at some point, and the launcher assembly flow may have break points where one moves far enough the next can begin, but the next one will necessarily be a lot behind. The launches are stovepiped, I.e. one long sequence with little redundancy.

You think they will be close enough together that even if the first is not quite ready, another will be right behind it almost ready as well. This doesn't match NASA history.

Thus is very much in line with any process where you don't anticipate needing extras at a moments notice. The process is stovepiped, where they are sequential units.

Keep in mind the crew vehicle has ion drive, but the resupply vehicles use chemical rockets. They are slower to travel, and that constrains the schedule.

*I can't go verify, I ordered the book from the library, so it would take a while to get it again.


Maybe some discussion along the lines of "this is a really unusual astronomical period during which we can't launch any of the other dozen or better unmanned supply missions that are already lined up and underway for the Ares 4 and the Ares 5 after it, even if we made a massive effort to move them up on the calendar and get the supply payload ready to go in weeks instead of the usual months" etc....maybe that would have helped.

Actually, they are in the middle of the optimum time, as this is nominally the beginning of surface ops.

Strictly speaking, you probably have a point. It would be sensible to be 2 or 3 vehicles ahead of need, to protect for run of the mill delays at any point. Practically, experience hasn't borne that it for NASA.


If you look at the book again, you'll see that Watney made no rock messages during the first quarter (or so--the period during which Watney assumed no one would know he was alive until the Ares 4 arrived) of the book---which was the period about which I was saying 'this is contrived and implausible.'[/spoiler]

Correct.

It's true that the Ares 3 can't pick Watney up at the Ares 3 site, but that's not what I was discussing. I was discussing the Ares 4 (which, at four years out, could presumably be made to land pretty much anywhere that meet the 'safe' criteria--such as 'fairly near the Ares 3 site.')

It's established that the MAV is already landed at the Ares 4 site - their pilot did it before they landed. The MAV is the only return to orbit vehicle, which is why

they purpose the crazy land at Ares 3, then hop to Ares 4

plan.

According to the book, there's nothing at the Ares 4 site other than the MAV which the Ares 3 crew remotely landed from orbit before they descended. The MAV needs to be there longer so it can make fuel from the Martian atmosphere. Presupplies will be launched ahead of the Ares 4 crew but not four years ahead.

Yes.

Miller
09-26-2015, 12:16 AM
Okay, just a quick pass: No, I'm not forgetting about the food-supply issue. What I'm saying is that given the book's premise--that 'missions to Mars' are on ongoing endeavor, with many (dozens!) of launches of unmanned supply craft being sent within a relatively small number of years--given that premise, the idea that there could be only one or two (with the help of China) attempts to supply Watney with additional food, doesn't hold up. It's basically hand-waved: some characters are distraught that the Iris protein-bar fiasco occurred, and we take that to mean that no other launches are possible.

Maybe some discussion along the lines of "this is a really unusual astronomical period during which we can't launch any of the other dozen or better unmanned supply missions that are already lined up and underway for the Ares 4 and the Ares 5 after it, even if we made a massive effort to move them up on the calendar and get the supply payload ready to go in weeks instead of the usual months" etc....maybe that would have helped. As it was, those of us who noticed the fact that Weir established in his fictional world, an ongoing program that included dozens of launches, would have been less bothered by the 'oh no, Iris failed, so we can't supply Watney with enough food to last until Ares 4 lands' development.

I'm not really seeing the flaw in all that. Yeah, NASA is building a lot of rockets, but as soon as the rockets are finished, they use them. They're not stockpiling them. They build one, launch it, then build the next. That's how it works currently - NASA doesn't have a bunch of booster rockets sitting in a warehouse that they dust off when they're ready to throw another robot at Pluto. The Martian does not seem set so far in the future that this model must have changed by then. This isn't a fully mature space industry, this is basically the Martian version of the Apollo program.

Siam Sam
09-26-2015, 11:35 AM
Finished this book today and really liked it. I didn't pick up any indications at all in the book that he was black, but I admit the knowledge that Matt Damon was going to play the protagonist onscreen may have influenced that. But I don't think so. There really was no indication, and the book is fresh in my mind.

Can't wait for the movie. Hearing good things about it already. Opens in Bangkok next week just like in the US, but I may have to wait for the wife to get less busy.

Habeed
09-26-2015, 08:58 PM
The flight to deliver those supplies was not a normal trajectory. This was a special, high energy rocket, probably 2 or 3 upper stages fueled with liquid hydrogen, intended for another mission. There are specific times when you get an efficient transfer, and all the other times a mission to Mars needs a huge amount more propellant to make it at all.

They couldn't launch one of the other rockets they had because it lacked the dV to make it to Mars at all.

In the book, the only rocket in the solar system that isn't limited by chemistry - liquid hydrogen/oxygen being the best you can practically do - is the Hermes...

Irishman
09-27-2015, 08:53 PM
I don't think that's quite true. Yes, the part about Hermes being ion drive and the others being chemical propellants is true. Yes, there are low energy routes (Hohmann transfers) and higher energy routes.

The rockets themselves consist of launchers to orbit and then the delivery vehicles that make the trip. The delivery vehicle was the payload part they were simplifying by using the existing space vehicle and slapping a landing stage onto. That collective unit was the payload they strapped to the rocket that was being prepped for launching the telescope payload.

I wouldn't mind someone with access to the book checking this.

standingwave
09-28-2015, 01:44 AM
I don't think that's quite true. Yes, the part about Hermes being ion drive and the others being chemical propellants is true. Yes, there are low energy routes (Hohmann transfers) and higher energy routes.

The rockets themselves consist of launchers to orbit and then the delivery vehicles that make the trip. The delivery vehicle was the payload part they were simplifying by using the existing space vehicle and slapping a landing stage onto. That collective unit was the payload they strapped to the rocket that was being prepped for launching the telescope payload.

I wouldn't mind someone with access to the book checking this.

From page 81...

“What about an Ares 4 presupply?” said Teddy. “Land it at Ares 3 instead.”

“That’s what we’re thinking, yeah,” Venkat confirmed. “Problem is, the original plan was to launch presupplies a year from now. They’re not ready yet.

“It takes eight months to get a probe to Mars in the best of times. The positions of Earth and Mars right now…it’s not the best of times. We figure we can get there in nine months. Presuming he’s rationing his food, he’s got enough to last three hundred and fifty more days. That means we need to build a presupply in three months. JPL hasn’t even started yet.”

“That’ll be tight,” Bruce said. “Making a presupply is a six-month process. We’re set up to pipeline a bunch of them at once, not to make one in a hurry.”

“Sorry, Bruce,” Teddy said. “I know we’re asking a lot, but you have to find a way.”

“We’ll find a way,” Bruce said. “But the OT alone will be a nightmare.”

“Get started. I’ll find you the money.”

“There’s also the booster,” Venkat said. “The only way to get a probe to Mars with the planets in their current positions is to spend a butt-load of fuel. We only have one booster capable of doing that. The Delta IX that’s on the pad right now for the EagleEye 3 Saturn probe. We’ll have to steal that. I talked to ULA, and they just can’t make another booster in time.”

Irishman
09-28-2015, 03:47 PM
Thanks!

Habeed, my apologies.