Audiobook Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

22 08 2013

The Martian by Andy Weir

Read by RC Bray

Podium Publishing

Length: 10 Hrs 28 Min

Genre: Science Fiction

Quick Thoughts:The Martian is probably my biggest surprise awesome audiobook this year. If you like realistic space travel tales, with cursing, 70’s pop culture references, laugh out loud one lines and plenty of fascinating creative science and engineering problem solving, download this sucker now. It’s really good.

Grade: A-

I grew up in a house with a very strict TV policy. Yet, I also lucked out, since my parents were divorced and my father was less interested in watching over what I fed into my brain. One of the reasons I liked my weekends over my fathers was not my attempts to gain the attentions of my dad, but my opportunity to play Atari and watch stupid 70’s movies all day without my mother checking to see it it’s *appropriate* for children. I remember watching some great old movies that I wish I knew their titles so I could revisit them  today to discover just how godawful they really were. I remember one horror movie that ended with a women being chased by bad evil people, then being buried alive, only to discover it was all a dream. Then, in the stunning climax, her real day begins exactly as her dream day did, and she screams… fade to black. To my 7 year old mind, this was the BEST TWIST EVER! I also remember watching another space based horror movie, where astronauts on a space station were being hunted by something or whatnot. There was a scene where a few of the astronauts were exposed to vacuum causing their eyes to explode is gory detail. Also, pretty awesome to my 7 year old brain. Yet, also kind of scary. My sister, clearly traumatized for some reason by exploding eyeballs, made me and my brother promise her that we would never become astronauts, because it was really, really dangerous. I think this was the first time it hit me. You don’t need aliens and space monsters to kill you in space, it can do a damn good job on its own. Space travel isn’t about boldly going anywhere on a cushy space vessel with gravity and air and hot communication officers, but a dangerous exercise for crazy people. I love the idea of space travel. I cheered when we landed the rover on Mars, and think that in order for humanity to survive it must find a way to fling ourselves off this rock, and start putting people onto a new one. But, as important as space travel is, I’m damn well not going out there myself. I like my eyeballs just a bit too much, and I learned at an early age never to break a promise to my sisters. She can kill me quicker than being exposed to vacuum ever could.

Six days into their mission on Mars, the crew of Ares 3 encounters a storm, forcing them to evacuate the planet, and leaving one astronaut behind, dead when a piece of equipment impales his suit. Except, unbeknownst to his crewmates, Mark Watney isn’t dead… just royally fucked. Left behind on Mars, with no hope to escape, little air, food or supplies, Mark Watney must find a way to survive, reestablish communication with NASA, and not go crazy when his only entertainment is bad 70’s TV, Hercule Poirot novels and Disco. Yep… disco. The Martian was a fantastic read. I mean, really. It was good. I was quite surprised at how much I enjoyed this gem of a little novel. Told mostly from the first person, it was equal parts hilarious and tense, with Watney’s very survival depending on his ingenuity. Watney is a wonderful character. He balances between sarcastically hilarious, and almost delusional, but very, very engaging. He’s a character you can’t help cheer for. Weir’s humor bordered on heavy handed at times, in a good way. The book has a style like the best comedians, you can see the set up coming from a mile away, yet still glow in the execution of the punch line. Weir also makes science fun. I love that this book is science fiction in the way that it is fiction about science. There’s no aliens or FTL travel, or the like, it’s one man, with limited equipment and plenty of duct tape trying to survive on a planet’s that is dangerous enough without the crimson court trying to kill him. If Weir’s creation of Mark Watney wasn’t enough, he fills in the story with some pretty cool and realistic secondary characters. I also like that nothing in this book goes smoothly. Both Watney and NASA screw things up royally on multiple occasions making them have to adapt, and this adaptation is the driving force of the novel. The plot was filled with creative problem solving that often went like “Your rover only goes 20mph with a 3 hour battery charge, and you need to travel 3000 miles across the face of Mars, well, let’s try this crazy plan. Oops, almost killed myself.” Of course, all the plans culminate is a well orchestrated, death defying, everything going wrong  at the same time rescue that if this was a movie would have me jumping out of my chair cheering like a friggin’ moron who things the actors can actually hear him.  The Martian is probably my biggest surprise awesome audiobook this year. If you like realistic space travel tales, with cursing, 70’s pop culture references, laugh out loud one lines and plenty of fascinating creative science and engineering problem solving, download this sucker now. It’s really good.

This is my first time listening to RC Bray narrate, and he does one hell of a good job. Bray does what you want from a first person narrator, he totally becomes the character. Bray channels Mark Watney, bringing him alive with all his faults and foibles, delivering his lines with a killer wit and impeccable timing. Bray had me laughing out loud with his delivery of some of Watney’s many one liners, nitpicking Aquaman’s skills or praising the miracle that is duct tape. Except for one strange pronunciation of the acronym “ASCII” he delivered the use of technobabble wonderfully, giving it a rhythmic feel that integrated Watney’s personal dictionary with established technical terms. Bray also handled a diverse cast well, giving them just enough of a little spin to keep them interested. The Martian is an audiobook you should totally listen to. I mean, really. Listen to it. Since the book has been picked up by Random House there is no print version available right now, but the audio is very, very good. If you are in anyway interested in NASA and space travel, and if you are not, I don’t want to know, then really, give this one a go. You are guaranteed 10 hours of good listening.

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4 responses

6 04 2014
Jennifer Conner (@LitHousewife)

I need to be more open to your reviews, Bob. The beauty that is The Martian could have been mine long ago and in audio. 🙂

12 01 2015
The Martian by Andy Weir |

[…] thoughts: Dribble of Ink, The Guilded Earlobe, The Speculative Spaceman, That’s What She Read, Stainless Steel Droppings, Speculative Book […]

16 01 2015
chewrocka

I liked this audiobook for the most part, but most his female voices are all strange to the point of annoying; his voice just isn’t suited for it. Also some of the longer sections where a character with an accent is talking are a bit too much, especially when the guy drones on and on about what theyre going to strip from the M.A.V. to get Watney off Mars.

16 05 2017
The martian

Really loved this audiobook. thanks for the review.

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