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Posts Tagged ‘The Martian’

I finally got to see The Martian this past weekend, and if you’ve been following the reviews at all my reaction will come as no surprise: it was great. What’s that, you’ve been busy/off the grid/media fasting? Here’s a trailer.

I read Andy Weir’s book last year so the specifics weren’t a surprise, but in this case knowing the story did nothing to detract from the experience. The execution, whether in terms of writing, acting, directing, or visuals, was a delight. The movie compressed the story in exactly the right ways, maintaining dynamism and tension in what could have been a dull one-man alone setting.

Also, no stupid characters were required to move the plot. Yay! You may not agree with every decision, but at no point did the script make some hapless individual look down at a big red button under glass and say, “Gosh, I know they told me not to touch anything but I wonder what this does,” literally or otherwise. Also times two, smart, strong characters, women included. How refreshing is that?

 

A lot has been written about the movie, and about Weir’s journey from self-published indie author to Hollywood hit, and it’s both interesting and well-deserved (see here and here and here and here, for examples).

As an entertainment consumer both versions scored high for me. As a writer, I was impressed by Weir’s concrete attention to detail, his willingness to dig himself into seemingly impossible holes, and his facility at getting out of them in realistic ways. Drew Goddard did an excellent job translating the book into a screenplay (I’d expect nothing less from this Buffy/Angel/Alias+ alum) for Ridley Scott.

I came out of the theatre kicking myself for not studying more math in school. Astronauts are awesome, and while most of us will never make that exalted level, there’s nothing to say we can’t try. (Ok, fine, my eyesight is bad and I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that astronauts need to be able to do more than 10 pushups, but you get my point.)

Helping kids (and everyone else) see that science is about exploration, discovery, innovation, capability and (in this case) freaking outer space?

That’s exactly the kind of story I can get behind. Recommended.

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Planet boredom
On Mars I learned that boredom has two sides – it can either rot the mind or rocket it to new places…

This essay provides a fascinating look at the HI-SEAS (Hawai’i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation) Mars training mission from the inside. Written by Kate Greene, a science and technology journalist (i.e. not an astronaut), the piece gives a great inside look at what a trip to Mars might be like. For speculative fiction writers, this sort of research provides terrific insight into what life in space would actually feel like to those living it.

Short answer? Boring. Longer answer? Sometimes boring can be a good thing…

Find the full essay at aeon Magazine. For more on the pitfalls of life on Mars, you could also check out Andy Weir’s recent novel The Martian.

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