The Martian by Andy Weir is a wonderful book. I saw many people mention and recommend it on Twitter and I was curious because I like sci-fi as much as the next guy.
But I also saw many people mention it was “hard sci-fi” and “very math heavy.” I do not math well and numbers across paragraphs scare me off.
So I took a chance on the book in audio form. The narrator, R.C. Bray, was just wonderful. Seriously, a narrator you can’t stand reading a book kills the story. Even if they’re a great narrator, it’s all about their voice. If I don’t like it, I can’t listen to it for hours.
This was not the case with The Martian.
I tweeted it was taking over my life. After starting it, I listened to it on the commute home from work. I listened to it that evening after I got home. I listened to it before falling asleep that night. I listened to it the next morning, during the commute to work and most of the day at work. (The joy of support work with little to support means time to listen as I reply to email.)
I finished it the second day as I walked home. I had about an hour to go once I got home and finished it as I did chores. The Martian was a fantastic story. The main character, Mark Watney, was funny and snarky. He took the situation he was in and made the best of it.
I loved the journal entries, recounting each sol on Mars. I enjoyed hearing of his triumph. Then hearing of his life-and-death struggle the very next sol.
It was a fun listen and the math didn’t seem overwhelming and wasn’t important to the story anyway. Yes, he took this many millilitres of this and combined it with that many liters of that to get this and that. But it’s not important. The importance is what it means for his survival.
I can see how the math could bog down a reader. But in audio it was a joy to listen. There is a map of Watney’s travels on Mars with a spoiler-free version for those who haven’t read the book.
The book clocks in at 10 hours and 53 minutes. I had a hard time stopping it at any time. The story is riveting and the outcome is never clear.
Get The Martian on Kindle, paperback or audio. It’s about $9 in print and $21 in audio-form.