The Martian

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I bought this book because of a review I saw online recently, and I have to say I loved it. Its interesting, humorous, and a generally fun read with a story line that I haven’t seen before. Its refreshing to encounter a new author who has some genuinely new ideas to explore. I highly recommend this book.

The Martian Book Cover The Martian
Andy Weir
Fiction
Random House
August 28, 2014
369

The bestseller behind the major film from Ridley Scott, starring Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain. I'm stranded on Mars. I have no way to communicate with Earth. I'm in a Habitat designed to last 31 days. If the Oxygenator breaks down, I'll suffocate. If the Water Reclaimer breaks down, I'll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I'll just kind of explode. If none of those things happen, I'll eventually run out of food and starve to death. So yeah. I'm screwed.

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Earthbound

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This is the third book in the Marsbound series. The Others have just turned off all electronics on Earth, and now we need to survive. One problem with this book is that it jumps straight into the action — I had to go back and re-read Marsbound and Starbound in order to understand what was happening in this book. That was ok because those two books are excellent, and I enjoyed re-reading them. In fact, those two are probably a little better than this one.

Overall Earthbound is pretty dark, and there isn’t a lot of hope presented — its just a series of scenes where the main characters attempt to deal with an all powerful adversary. Perhaps if the Others weren’t so powerful this would be a better book, because you just know that everyone is doomed. I also respect authors who are willing to kill off lead characters, but that happens a lot in this book, which sort of bothered me. Perhaps that’s what combat is really like though — people you have an attachment to just stop being there. There’s no warning or explanation.

The end of this book isn’t very satisfying. There better be a sequel or I’m going to be annoyed.

[isbn: 9781937007836]

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Red Mars

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This is another book on colonization. To be totally honest I enjoyed the first half of the book more than the second, and I rather thought the book dragged on and could have done with a more vigorous editing. There are sections which are deeply descriptive, but it doesn’t progress the story. Overall, I was a little disappointed.

[isbn: 0553560735]
[awards: hugo nominee 1993; nebula winner 1993]

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Starbound

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This is the newly released sequel for Marsbound which I really liked, so I was excited when this arrived the other day. This book is much like the previous one stylistically, being written as a set of mostly first person diary entries. However, the people writing these entries are older now, and this feels less like a teen fiction novel. There is also more than one narrator in this book, unlike the first, with generally each chapter being narrated by one of three people. This can be a bit jarring at first, because it takes a while to realize that a new person is narrating and that’s why the point of view changed. You get used to it though. This book is also quite Heinlein like in this level of sex, which is similar to Marsbound, but not true of all of the Haldeman books I’ve read — I think it might be a relatively recent change to his style.

Overall a good book, I enjoyed it, and I can’t wait for the next one in the series (which Joe finished at the end of 2010).

[isbn: 044101979X;9780441019793]

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Mars: A Survival Guide

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This book, written in the style of a travel guide, was an impulse purchase the other day as a brand new book. That’s rare because I don’t tend to buy new, and certainly not in Australia (everything is so expensive!). However, this book isn’t available on Amazon because its from the ABC, and looked good, so I bit the bullet. The book’s first half is interesting and very readable. After that it tends to die down into an exhaustive treatment of issues you’d need to consider if moving to Mars, and feels like a list of lists. It picks up again towards the end. I know its hard to be interesting in non-fiction reference books, but I feel this book lost its way at the midpoint and could have tried harder to be interesting. However, it was still ok overall and I might be being overly harsh as I don’t read much non-fiction.

[isbn: 9780733324895]

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Marsbound

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This book really worked for me. I’ve seen other people criticize it for being juvenile, but I don’t feel its any more juvenile than The Forever War, which is considered a classic. The style is quite conversational, as if the main protagonist is talking to you and explaining the story, but I liked that. This is a great book.

[isbn: 9780441017393; 0441017398]

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