The Martian is the story of NASA astronaut Mark Watney who gets mistakenly left behind on Mars when his science team must evacuate the planet quickly. He is left with the task of surviving on the planet until a future mission, some long time away, can relieve him. Food, water, and oxygen are of paramount importance and of course, not available on the red planet. Not to mention, no one knows yet that he is still alive and it wouldn’t matter if they did. Help is a minimum of months away. In his situation, there are no small problems and the smallest thing can become a catastrophe in the blink of an eye.
Watney’s plucky perseverance gets him through most obstacles, but it soon becomes obvious that he can’t do it alone. What happens next is a testament to humanity. To rescue this castaway, national interests must be ignored, ideological differences must be set aside, petty politics can have no place and personal interests must be eschewed.
Kudos to Mr. Weir for keeping the science in this story believable and real. It would have been so easy to invent fantastical technology and scientific breakthroughs to keep Watney alive. Anyone who has been just slightly following recent missions to Mars will be able to keep up with the science presented. Even so, science isn’t the hero here. Mark Watney survives on the planet for as long as he does because of the curiosity, tenacity, and ingenuity of the human spirit.
In the end, it doesn’t matter if Watney survives his ordeal. It doesn’t matter if he is rescued from the planet or even if his body ever makes it back to Earth. This story is not about Mark Watney. It is about what can be accomplished in the World when it pulls together towards a single goal.
parts of this article were originally posted on I Read What You Write