|Gonna Have To Science The Shit Out Of This
||[Jun. 9th, 2016|06:51 pm]
So I just read The Martian, which someone had loaned me. (Wish I remembered who...) I read it now because I had just seen the movie. And I have to say, I liked them both.
If one has not been clued, this is a book that was unexpectedly hot recently -- the story of Mark Watney, a member of the Mars mission Ares III, who ends up being left behind when his team has to abort in the face of a sandstorm strong enough to compromise their assent vehicle; that is, their ride back to their orbiting ship. The book is about his efforts to survive long enough to be rescued, in a fiercely hostile environment, with equipment designed to last for the 31-day mission, no way to communicate with the ship or with Earth (It was the comm dish that hit him and busted his bio computer, so he registered as "dead" on the team's screens), and nowhere near enough food to last until the next mission, in four years.
It's the hardest science science fiction, well researched (the author calculates interception orbits as a hobby), and both enjoyable and relateable. I can recommend it.
The surprising thing is that I can recommend the movie as well. Matt Damon plays the stranded astronaut well, and, more importantly, the filmmakers trusted the book. A lot has been trimmed for time, and they inserted a few bits, but what they inserted is minor, true to the spirit and letter of the story, and works. (Glorfindel, for instance, is not in the book, but the rest of the scene is.) The plot, developments, and giant wads of dialogue are straight from the story. (They succumbed to Cinematography Fever once or twice, but the movie survives it.)
Do you have any idea how rare this is? Even Peter Jackson used maybe 15% of the books, and filled the rest up with cinematic bullshit-- I'm surprised he didn't put in a car chase. The story goes that the producer of The Maltese Falcon thought of it as a nothing project, so he just handed the book to his secretary and asked her to "type this up as a screenplay", which is why it's a great movie, but otherwise to film a book is to ruin it. (I understood Tim Burton's Alice when I came across an interview in which he said that he hated the book and had never read it. I think his source document was the execrable Disney movie.)
So I enjoyed the book -- I sat up halfway to dawn last night to finish it -- and I enjoyed the movie. Full props and my recommendation.