Sunday, 23 November 2014

Robinson Crusoe for Geeks: The Martian -- best ever survival story

I spent two days struggling to survive on Mars, captivated by Andy Weir's obsessively accurate survival story about a man left behind for dead on Mars, a story set just a few years in the future. My wife likes it too.

Andy has been running Mars scenarios for years, even writing software to calculate rescue orbits.   He gamed possible answers to worse case life-ending scenarios and lured me into his world.  The astronaut's mates aborted the mission without him when signals showed his suit had depressurized and life signals stopped, but the wind had dropped him with the puncture facing into the sand, his blood sealed the hole, the suit re-pressurized.  I wanted to be there using a spare spacesuit to cache water that I had just manufactured from rocket fuel so I could grow enough potato calories per day so I could survive until the first possible rescue date.   Then there's the moment when a NASA tech scanned the abandoned site to see what could be re-used to fund an extra mission and saw an emergency tent had deployed.  All plausible, heart-stoppingly plausible.  These aren't spoilers because about a hundred
similar obstacles are met and overcome
with Yankee grit and engineering know how.

He published this free, a chapter at a time.  Later he put out a Kindle version for 99 cents.  Now it's over $11 and a movie is in the works.

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