“I’m stranded on Mars. I have no way to communicate with Hermes or Earth. Everyone thinks I’m dead. I’m in a Hab designed to last 31 days.

If the oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the water reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I’ll just kind of explode. If none of those things happen, I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death.

So yeah.”

— From Mission Specialist Mark Watney’s Mars Journal

It never would have occurred to me to laugh my way through a book about an astronaut left to die on Mars, but Andy Weir’s Mark Watney is a space faring MacGyver. He approaches every catastrophe as a problem solvable by hard work, science, engineering, and irreverence. I’ve read this twice now, once when it was new and then again after seeing the movie, and it was just as good the second time around. It is one of the few book-to-movie adaptations where I would recommend both versions. Each brings something special to the table while retaining the same delightful core. The book expands on the problems and challenges and more importantly, it presents the complicated technical solutions in a clear and understandable way for the lay reader. The film brings the personal costs of a tragedy like this to the fore in a way the book really cannot. My recommendation would be to read the book first and then see the movie. In the end, the real joy in this story is rediscovering the sense that, yes we can do the impossible.

The Martian review by staff member David D.