Senin, 02 Februari 2015

The Martian - or Geniuses Guide to Survive on Mars

Title: The Martian
Author: Andy Weir
Publisher: Crown (2014)
ISBN: 978-080-41-3902-1
Pages: 384 halaman
Published: 2011
Literary Awards: Goodreads Choice for Best Science Fiction (2014)

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first men to walk on the surface of Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first man to die there.

It started with the dust storm that holed his suit and nearly killed him, and that forced his crew to leave him behind, sure he was already dead. Now he's stranded millions of miles from the nearest human being, with no way to even signal Earth that he's alive--and even if he could get word out, his food would be gone years before a rescue mission could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to get him first.

But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills--and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit--he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. But will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

Remember the movie Cast Away when a man stranded on an island for years and he had to go by all means to survive? Well, imagine that situation, but instead of an island it was.... on Mars. Yup, that's where Mark Watney was, alone and no one on earth even know he was alive!

It started with a sand storm hitting Hermes crews on the surface of Mars. The storm was so violent that NASA decided to cut to mission short, from 31 Sol (days on Mars) to just few Sols they already had. When they was heading back to the MAV, Mark Watney -one of the crew, the botanist, the least important one- swept out of the storm and disappeared. After his vital body reading went zero, Commander Lewis in charge, forcefuly had to took off and left the dead body unfounded. Unfortunately... or should I say, fortunately, Mark Watney is still alive. And so begin his Sols of survival.

First to deal with was air, water and food. The basic needs. Even when air and water could last with the recycled machines, food was another story. They only had 32 sols of ransom pack for 6 people. So do the math (and believe me, this novel was packed with logic and mathematical calculation -that were exact acurate-). The point was, he couldn't last 'till the next Mars mission launch. He will die starving. But d*mn, he was a botanist. And then he became the first interstellar potato farmer. How, you'll ask?? Just read this novel.... Oh dear, it was so.... I don't even know the words. It laid between disgusting and mere genius, insanely stupid and just fully resourceful.

After that step by step we accompany Mark journey to salvation one sol after another. Even though there were so many things happened, good and (mostly) bad, his personality kept him going. I really think that his 'sunny' attitude was as much important as his McGyver way of thinking around problems. His will to live pulled up his skill to survive. Yes, he broke down and had his tantrum from time to time, but still....
Mars keeps trying to kill me.
Well…Mars didn’t electrocute Pathfinder. So I’ll amend that:
Mars and my stupidity keep trying to kill me.

Between that, back on earth we saw how pure incidents made low levels NASA operatives gave Mark huge advantages, from noticing his survival to providing him a way to catch a ride home, as much as high levels NASA tried everything they could to help him, eventhough sometimes it means to ignore a direct order and even a mutiny from his colleages the Hermes Crews. And more, how politician and leaders of all nations gave leeway to the attempt of rescuing him.

Is there any spending limit to this rescue operation?” another reporter asked. “Some people are beginning to ask how much is too much.”
“It’s not about the bottom line,” Annie said, prepared for the question. “It’s about a human life in immediate danger. But if you want to look at it financially, consider the value of Mark Watney’s extended mission. His prolonged mission and fight for survival are giving us more knowledge about Mars than the rest of the Ares program combined.”

To my surprised, some minor aspects also got cover, from review of Mark psychological behaviour that kept him going, to post stamps that had his face (that had to be cancellled), to fundamental funding problem. After some time reading, I was questioning the same question as the reporter. How are they gonna pay for all of this? Sooo glad that NASA had financial justification for this problem, it made this novel so much believeable.

In the end, [Spoiler] I actually exhaled when Vogel finally grabbed Beck and Mark inside the Hermes and locked the door behind them. My God, it was hell of a ride.

By far... this is the most technical, interesting, intriquing, resourceful, and lonely stranded story I've read, and undoubtly the most fun too. Well... if you had to die in mars, might do it with laughing as well.... smart *ss Mark Watney's style.  XD

Moreover, if all that surviving story did not winsome enough, his last sentences might be. Touché Mark, touché. Humanity is what makes us human after all.

The cost for my survival must have been hundreds of millions of dollars. All to save one dorky botanist. Why bother?

Well, okay. I know the answer to that. Part of it might be what I represent: progress, science, and the interplanetary future we’ve dreamed of for centuries. But really, they did it because every human being has a basic instinct to help each other out. It might not seem that way sometimes, but it’s true.

If a hiker gets lost in the mountains, people will coordinate a search. If a train crashes, people will line up to give blood. If an earthquake levels a city, people all over the world will send emergency supplies. This is so fundamentally human that it’s found in every culture without exception. Yes, there are assholes who just don’t care, but they’re massively outnumbered by the people who do. And because of that, I had billions of people on my side.

Pretty cool, eh?

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