Mark Watney was left for dead on Mars by the rest of his crew, but he’s alive after all. The next Mars mission won’t reach Mars for four years. He has to figure out a way to survive until then.
I don’t know what to add to what’s already been said about Andy Weir’s The Martian. It’s great fun to watch its protagonist encounter obstacles and figure out clever science ways to surmount them. For more, I refer you to the Tor.com review that convinced me to read it and the AV Club review that reminded me to add it to my TBR list.
I disagree with the Tor reviewer, incidentally, that Mark’s too cheerful to be real. Legal Sister and my father would be exactly this cheerful if they were space engineers in this situation. They like to feel like pioneering survivor people. By contrast, if I were left for dead on Mars, I’d OD on the morphine in the space station the first day and call it quits, because y’all, I am lazy. And pessimistic.
(Frankly, it was kind of irresponsible of NASA to hire someone like me in the first place.)
For my art pairing, I’m highlighting Puerto Rican artist Eric Tabales’s painting The Fall of Phaeton. Like Phaeton, Mark Watney and his team dare to fling themselves up to the sky in a fiery chariot, and Watney is the unlucky one who falls back to the ground. Of course, poor Phaeton gets smote by Zeus, whereas Mark is able to bring his considerable ingenuity to bear on the problem of survival. I love the angle of Phaeton’s body as he falls here — you can see he wasn’t expecting anything like this.
This is part of a gorgeous series called Myths and Gods, the rest of which you can check out at Tabales’s website. I particularly like Endymion and Hades. (No Athena though! What gives? I love my girl Athena, despite her unkindness to Troy.)