The Martian by Andy Weir was a fascinating and unusual sci-fi story. The author had taken great pains to identify realistic problems and suggest feasible solutions. The problem solving approach of the protagonist was intriguing and the book was not only entertaining, but also a very satisfying read.
So when I heard about alien life, interstellar travel and impending apocalypse in Project Hail Mary, I was a little skeptical. Was Any Weir veering away from his greatest strengths and gravitating towards cliched sci-fi tropes? I put my faith in him, and read the book anyway. I was not disappointed. Converting problem solving and basic science into riveting page turners is definitely Andy’s forte, and I look forward to a lot more from him in future.
Genre: Science Fiction, Futuristic, Adventure
Price: Rs 432.25 for Kindle edition
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A junior high science teacher wakes up from a medically induced coma to find himself alone in a strange room. He can’t remember who he is, or how he got there. Luckily for him, his reasoning powers are intact. As he struggles to figure out his location using basic high school physics experiments and common sense, some old memories are triggered. Over time, he gradually remembers he is on a mission to save humanity from space microbes that have been depleting the sun of its energy leading up to apocalyptic climate change on Earth, unless he can do something about it. But what can he do?
He recalls that studies on Earth had revealed, that the space microbes had similarly affected all but one of the near by stars. What made Tau Ceti special and could that knowledge save Earth? It is his mission to find out. But being the only surviving crew member, can he carry out the mission successfully?
That’s when he notices another spaceship in his vicinity. It’s clearly not of human design. Is this another problem for him to tackle, or an ally who can help him, or perhaps a little of both? Read on to find out.
What I Liked About The Story
The book, in typical Andy Weir style, has a practical scientific approach to problem solving. In a panic situation, the protagonist does the only thing that makes sense. He identifies the problems he can conceivably tackle, and does his best to solve them. Sometimes he succeeds, and sometimes his actions give rise to new, unforeseen problems. Then he moves on to tackle the new problems as best he can. This approach keeps his mind occupied, and helps him stay calm through an unbelievably frightening situation.
The protagonist for all his abilities to cope with a crisis situation, is a regular flawed human with paralyzing fears and deep insecurities, but the crisis brings out the best in him as he rises to the occasion and delivers more than any one could have ever hoped for.
Sci-fi authors have tried to tackle the issues of inconveniently long space flight and impossible fuel requirements in a variety of ways ranging from warp drive, to hyperspace travel, to travel in bio-stasis. The cute and creative idea suggested in this book tickles the imagination.
The logistical difficulties portrayed in first contact between vastly different species from different planets, where the most basic assumptions can break down, are realistic, and some innovative practical ideas for communication between alien species have been explored.
The story also highlights the complexities of evolution, and the pitfalls of simplistic assumptions made while trying to artificially engineer it.
The protagonist's sense of humor and casual easy-going style of narration, makes this an engaging and entertaining read.
The soul of the story is a heart warming friendship that melts away impossibilities into mere challenges.
A practical approach to the curve balls in life
Think, formulate, execute, survive… repeat
Thanks PlusMinus’N’More, for everything I learned from you about reviewing books.