The Martian (Andy Weir)

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The Martian: A Novel
The Martian 2014.jpg
Cover of the 2014 hardcover edition
Author Andy Weir
Cover artist Eric White
Country United States
Language English
Genre Science fiction
Publisher Crown Publishing Group
Publication date
2011 (electronic book),
March 2013 (audiobook),
February 11, 2014 (hardcover)
Media type Print (hardcover and electronic book) and audiobook
Pages 369
ISBN ISBN 978-0-8041-3902-1 (hardcover), ISBN 978-0-8041-3903-8 (eBook)

The Martian is the first published novel[1] by American novelist Andy Weir. It was originally self-published in 2012 before Crown purchased the rights and re-published it in 2014. A science fiction novel, it follows the fictional American astronaut Mark Watney as he becomes stranded alone on Mars and must improvise in order to survive.[2][3][4] It has been described as an Apollo 13 meets Cast Away.[5] A film version directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon is scheduled for release in November 2015.[6][7]


NASA astronaut Mark Watney, a botanist and mechanical engineer, is left stranded on Mars when the crew of the Ares 3 mission is forced to evacuate their landing site in Acidalia Planitia due to a dust storm with high winds. Watney is impaled by an antenna during the evacuation, destroying his EVA suit's bio-monitor computer, and his five crewmates believe him to be dead. His injury proves relatively minor, but with no way to contact Earth, Watney must rely on his scientific and technical skills to survive, growing potatoes in the crew's Martian habitat (or Hab) and burning hydrogen to make water. He begins a log of his experiences for some future archeologist who might discover it long after his death. NASA discovers that Watney is alive when satellite images of the landing site show evidence of his activities; they begin working on ways to rescue him, but withhold the news of his survival from the rest of the Ares 3 crew, on their way back to Earth aboard the Hermes spacecraft, so as not to distract them.

Watney plans to drive 3,200 kilometres (2,000 mi) to Schiaparelli crater when the Ares 4 mission lands there in four years. He begins modifying one of Ares 3's rovers for the journey, adding solar cells and an additional battery. He makes a long test drive to recover the unmanned Pathfinder lander and Sojourner rover and bring them back with him to the Hab, allowing him to contact Earth. Mitch Henderson, the Ares 3 flight director, convinces NASA Administrator Teddy Sanders to allow him to inform the Ares 3 crew of Watney's survival; his crewmates are thrilled, except for Melissa Lewis, the commander, who is guilt-stricken at leaving him behind.

As Watney's second potato harvest approaches, a tear in the canvas at one of the Hab airlocks breaches, collapsing the Hab and cannoning Watney away from it, breaking his suit visor. Watney survives and repairs the Hab, but his plants are dead, threatening him again with starvation. NASA hastily prepares an unmanned probe to send Watney supplies, but the probe's rocket disintegrates on liftoff. A deal with the China National Space Administration provides a ready booster to try again, but with no time to build a probe with a soft-landing system, NASA is faced with the unlikely prospect of building one whose cargo will survive a crash. Meanwhile, an astrodynamicist named Rich Purnell has discovered a "slingshot" trajectory that could get Hermes and the Ares 3 crew back to Mars on a much-extended mission to save Watney, using the Chinese rocket to send a resupply probe to Hermes as it passes Earth. Sanders vetoes the "Rich Purnell Maneuver" as involving too much risk for the other crewmembers, but Mitch secretly emails the maneuver to Hermes. All five of Watney's crewmates agree to the plan, and once they begin the maneuver, NASA is compelled to send them the supply ship to save their lives.

Watney resumes modifying the rover, since the new rescue plan requires him to drive to Ares 4's scheduled landing site and lift off from Mars in that mission's Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV), which has already made an unmanned landing as part of the long preparations for that visit. While working on the rover, Watney accidentally shorts out the electronics of Pathfinder, again losing the ability to communicate with Earth. The resupply probe launches and docks with Hermes successfully. As Watney prepares to leave for Schiaparelli, NASA discovers that a dust storm is approaching Watney's course, potentially stranding him on the journey if the rover's solar cells cannot recharge, but has no way to warn him of this new danger. While crossing Arabia Terra, Watney becomes aware of the encroaching dust storm and makes a rough measurement of the speed and direction of its movement, allowing him to go around it.

Surviving a rover rollover on his descent into Schiaparelli, Watney reaches the MAV and reestablishes contact with NASA. He receives instructions on the radical modifications to the MAV that are necessary to reduce its weight and allow it to intercept Hermes during its flyby. The modifications leave a large hole in the front of the MAV, which Watney covers with Hab canvas. During launch, the canvas patch tears, slowing the liftoff and leaving the MAV on a course too far from the Hermes for Watney to be rescued. Lewis develops a plan to intercept the MAV by firing Hermes' attitude thrusters, then slowing down to match the MAV's velocity by blowing a hole in the Hermes front airlock with an improvised bomb. A crewman on a tether uses a Manned Maneuvering Unit to reach Watney aboard the MAV and carry him back to Hermes. In a final log entry, Watney expresses his joy at being rescued.

Publishing history[edit]

Andy Weir has a background in computer science. He began writing the book in 2009, researching the book to be as realistic as possible based on existing technology.[5] Weir studied orbital mechanics, astronomy, and the history of manned spaceflight.[8]

Having been rebuffed by literary agents, Weir put the book online for free at his website.[5] At the request of fans he made a Amazon Kindle version available through at 99 cents (the minimum he could set the price).[5] The Kindle edition rose to the top of Amazon's list of best-selling science-fiction titles where it sold 35,000 copies in three months.[5] This garnered the attention of publishers: Podium Publishing, an audiobook publisher, signed for the audiobook rights in January, 2013, and Weir sold the print rights to Crown in March 2013 for six figures.[5]

The book debuted on the New York Times Best Seller list on March 2, 2014 in the hardcover fiction category at twelfth position.[9]


The Martian was published in print by Crown on February 11, 2014. An audiobook edition, released by Podium Publishing, preceded the print release in March 2013 on, and later followed on CD in association with Brilliance Audio. The audiobook was nominated for an Audie Award (2014) in the Science Fiction category.


In a starred review, Publishers Weekly said that "Weir laces the technical details with enough keen wit to satisfy hard science fiction fan and general reader alike."[10] Kirkus Reviews called The Martian "Sharp, funny and thrilling, with just the right amount of geekery."[11] The Wall Street Journal called the book "the best pure sci-fi novel in years."[2] Entertainment Weekly gave the novel a grade of "B", describing it as "an impressively geeky debut novel" but saying Weir "stumbles with his secondary characters".[4]

Film adaptation[edit]

In March 2013, Twentieth Century Fox optioned the film rights, and hired screenwriter Drew Goddard to adapt and direct the film.[5][12] In May 2014 it was reported that Ridley Scott was in negotiations to direct an adaptation that would star Matt Damon as Mark Watney.[6] The film is scheduled for release on November 25, 2015.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Weir wrote a novel before this called Theft of Pride under the pen-name "Jack Sharp" which was released on the web for free.
  2. ^ a b Shippey, Tom (February 7, 2014). "Book Review: 'The Martian' by Andy Weir; 'Red Rising' by Pierce Brown". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved February 16, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Andy Weir delivers with ‘The Martian’". Associated Press (via Washington Post). February 11, 2014. Retrieved February 16, 2014. [dead link]
  4. ^ a b Catucci, Nick (February 12, 2014). "The Martian (2014)". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Alter, Alexandra (February 14, 2014). "A Survival Guide to Mars". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  6. ^ a b "Ridley Scott in Talks to Direct Matt Damon in 'The Martian' (Exclusive)". Hollywood Reporter. May 13, 2014. Retrieved May 14, 2014. 
  7. ^ a b Anderton, Ethan (August 1, 2014). "Fox Shifts Release Dates for 'The Martian,' 'Miss Peregrine' & More". Retrieved August 2, 2014. 
  8. ^ Flatow, Ira (February 14, 2014). "Andy Weir: ‘The Martian’". Science Friday. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Best Sellers: HARDCOVER FICTION". New York Times. March 2, 2014. Retrieved 21 February 2014. 
  10. ^ "Fiction Book Review: The Martian by Andy Weir". Publishers Weekly. November 25, 2013. Retrieved April 24, 2014. 
  11. ^ "THE MARTIAN by Andy Weir". Kirkus Reviews. December 8, 2013. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  12. ^ Sneider, Jeff (May 15, 2013). "Drew Goddard in Negotiations to Write and Direct ‘The Martian’ for Fox (Exclusive)". The Wrap. Retrieved February 16, 2014. 

External links[edit]