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Saturday, 5 March 2016

Andy Weir


There is nothing better in the world (okay, maybe one or two things) than starting a book at 5am, getting hooked in three lines - yes, three lines - and then not even feeling a little bit guilty for reading until it's done.

The Martian is that book. And I'm a fantasy reader, not science fiction.

Seriously. Ender's Game is as close to sci fi as I get, but my friend, Roxi, who must love me very much, gave me The Martian for Christmas, and then I read Nathan Van Koop's fairly spectacular review, so I figured I could always go back to sleep if it didn't hook me.

Yeah, that didn't happen.

This is not a funny book. The guy gets stranded on Mars - how is that funny? Except, Mark's voice (that's the guy) has exactly the wry snark I hear in my own head, and his irreverent comic timing is perfect while mine is about twenty minutes after the moment of perfection.

The crazy thing is, I didn't stop laughing, even when an entire planet of crap could go wrong - and did - with alarming frequency. 

This book, with its perfect storm of nerd humor, scientific MacGyver brilliance, and sharp, dry, self-deprecating wit is truly one of the most excellent stories I've ever read.

So, when I had the chance to take my family to hear Andy Weir speak, I jumped at it! My husband had listened to The Martian while driving on snowy mountain roads in the Yukon, and my older son had inhaled the book after hearing me laugh out loud for hours while I read. My younger son was along for the ride, but was as engaged as the rest of us were as Andy spoke.



Things I learned:
Andy Weir self-published The Martian, but 300-500 downloads a day got the notice of a literary agent who made a deal with a publisher in the same week the film rights were optioned.

The one unrealistic part of The Martian is the storm that starts it all. Andy knew that storm couldn't have happened like he wrote it, but because it's a story of Man vs. Nature, he used it anyway. Since then, he has learned that Mars does have lightening strikes, and would definitely have used a lightning storm to strand Mark Watney if he'd known about them then.


The Planet Venus has a thing called "standing lightning," and the atmosphere is 90 times more dense than Earth's. "Don't go to Venus," Andy said. "It's hell."

Andy Weir has absolutely no interest in going to space. Zero. None. He writes about brave people, he isn't necessarily one of them.

Mark Watney is cooler and more resourceful than Andy is, because most authors "write main characters they either want to be, or want to have sex with." On a side note, the hero of Andy's next book, due out in early 2017, is a woman. Just saying.


My younger son did ask to borrow a notebook and a pencil while we waited, and doodled this masterpiece as Andy spoke.


Which Andy very generously signed for him.


Afterwards, Andy very generously stayed to sign books and talk to fans. As my son always remarks, I am far more likely to fangirl over authors whose books I love than over celebrities (unless they have odd names like Hiddleston or Cumberbatch), so this happened too.



It was a really excellent event, Andy Weir is a genuinely smart, funny, well-spoken guy, and I got to share my passion for a great book, written by a fascinating author, with my family.

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