In addition to my yearly roundup of favourite reads, I’d like to write semi-regular reading posts like this one when I’ve read a handful of books I’d like to talk about.
Originally, this was an excessively long post covering 10 books. But I’ve dropped discussing The Right to Sex here because I’ve already reviewed it, and I’ve chopped up the other nine across three posts.
For the first three, I’ve decided to group all the science-fiction novels I read together…
When a book is described as “hard sci-fi”, I’m immediately put off. Stories with compelling characters are what draw me in, and a plot heavily reliant on talking about real science sounded like a snoozefest to me. But I had been assured that The Martian was a different kind of hard sci-fi, and I’m delighted to say those who recommended the book weren’t wrong. I loved this novel.
The protagonist Mark Watney is a funny, loveable guy with an infectious pragmatic optimism. When we first meet him, he’s alone and stranded on Mars. From the outset, his situation seems impossible to survive and it only gets worse. Describing something as a page-turner is such a tired cliché, but Weir does tension so well that I found myself speeding through the book because I was so eager to see how Watney survived the latest disaster.
I also loved the book from a craft perspective. We get Watney’s first-person POV via the logs that make up most of the book. But we also get a broader view of the narrative thanks to third-person perspectives from the Ares 3 crew and the people at NASA. It’s a style I’m keen to attempt in my own fiction writing.
How The Martian came to be is also an interesting story. From giving chapters away for free via his website to serialising the novel on Amazon to eventually signing a book deal and making the bestsellers list.
I’m making no commitments, but serialising a novel is on my checklist of things to do.