It feels strange to finish reading The Martian tonight, surrounded by news that puts the ugly side of humanity all on display. I’d been introduced to the story through the movie, which had been a deeply optimistic portrayal of humanity, and the book is the same, although it is has much less portrayal of the world and more of just the central character. It’s gain some, lose some; we get more of Mark Watney’s inner mind, and a lot more of his personality, but his universe gets thinner.
Indeed, one can see definite weaknesses in the book, especially if you’re not into highly technical descriptions. Andy Weir has persumably done his homework, and arguably it makes sense for all these scientist characters to talk at length with all their fancy terms, and of course much of the story is told through Watney’s log entries, but still, the eyes of most readers are going to glaze over a lot. Perhaps it works a bit better in those sections where suddenly we go out of the limited POV narration and into an odd scientific/documentary style narrative, where even Watney is referred to just as “the astronaut,” and it makes it easier to focus in on whatever mechanical affair is about to happen.
Mostly I now want to see the movie again. Not even necessarily out of it being better, but just because I feel like I didn’t get enough. And I don’t know if I would’ve felt that way had I read the book first.