Goodreads Choice Winner (2014)
Seiun Award1 for Best Novel (2015),
John W. Campbell Memorial Award Nominee for Best Novel (2015),
ALA Alex Award (2015),
Green Mountain Book Award Nominee (2015)
One thing I’m discovering about whichever of the Puppies put together the slate for the Hugo Awards this year is that they are woefully underread.
If the true agenda was to recognize good, old-fashioned rip-roaring science fiction of the Golden Age why the actual [bleep] did they not pick The Martian? This is a book that could have been written by Isaac Asimov in 1967, only I’m glad it wasn’t, because Weir was able to put in all sorts of wonderful 1970s pop culture references and give a very modern, sly, sarcastic voice to the main character, the guy we’re rooting for: Mark Watney.
The Martian of the title, it turns out, is Mark. Mark is on a manned crew to Mars when things go pear-shaped in a hurry and his colleagues abandon him after they see him get impaled on a communications array antenna and, quite rightfully, think he’s dead.
Only he’s not.
And, having been impaled on the communications array… well, let’s just say, there’s no easy way to phone home and let them know that he’s going to run out of food pretty damn quickly.
What follows is the single most hardcore science nerd-y, yet deeply gripping story I have read in a long, long time. It’s kind of like a cross between MythBusters and Apollo 13. Duct tape features heavily and mad, mad math, engineering, botany, chemistry, AND ALL THE SCIENCE. So much science-y goodness. So. Much.
In some ways, I’m not at all surprised that this novel has been already optioned and made into a film.
On the other hand, I’m baffled because: so geek that it really ought to be much more boring than it is.
I can’t say for a fact that the movie is going to live up to the book (because we’ve all been down that disappointing road), but fingers crossed.
So, what were the Puppies thinking? I would have voted for this book so hard had it been on the ballot this year.
Of course, maybe they knew about this book and didn’t put it on the slate because The Martian completely invalidates their argument that old-fashioned science fiction can’t win awards. Or maybe they’re obsessed over a single award. I don’t know. It might also be because the author self-identifies as “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” and as an agnostic.
Luckily, it’s all the Puppy Drama™ is going to be over in a matter of days when the Hugo Award voting closes on July 31, 2015. In the meantime, the rest of us can sit back and enjoy the heck out of the math geek badassery of Weir’s The Martian.
The Seiun Award is often called “the Japanese Hugo.” Irony, much? ↩