THE MARTIAN by Andy Weir

I read The Martian by Andy Weir for one of my book groups, the Twin Cities’ Books and Bars. It was on a lost of best-of lists last year, but I’d heard some grumblings from other people who’d read it that it was more math and science than an actual sci-fi book. I found it a thumping good read, with one big caveat.

I found the science in this book of fiction to be a big strength. Many sci-fi books are vague on details. Weir is obviously a giant geek, and he loads them on, going into such detail that I was convinced of his science bona fides, and unsurprised to learn he was a programmer prodigy as well as a space nerd. That said, I actually skimmed many of the detailed science sections–I trusted him to get the details, while I just read ahead to see if and how his protagonist, the immature but mostly winning smart-ass protagonist Mark Watney, would survive when he was left for dead on the surface of Mars.

My one concern with the book was a blithe disregard (ignorance?) about race and sex. The character uses the word “rape” casually, and another time insults people by saying their mothers and sisters are prostitutes.

“Lighten up,” some people at the book discussion tweeted at me when I brought this up. But no, I will not. Rape is not a casual word, and joking about prostitutes is not OK. Further, Watney is CLEARLY a Mary-Sue character, meaning a projection of the author himself, so I can’t help but read this as Weir’s own take. It perpetuates bad attitudes in the same way that Jeremy Renner’s jokes about Black Widow being a whore do. These cheap jokes marred an otherwise good book. Rape and prostitutes are not joking matters. Period. The end.

One Response to “THE MARTIAN by Andy Weir”

  1. Margy Says:

    I read this book quite a while ago. My husband is a scifi nut and he passes some books along to me that he thinks I might enjoy. What i enjoyed was his ingenuity in surviving when the odds were against him, especially using the potatoes to grow his own food. I’m not too well versed in the science aspects, but they seemed white plausible from my point of view. - Margy