The BookBrowse Review

Got a question? Click here!

The BookBrowse Review

Published May 21, 2014

ISSN: 1930-0018

printable version
You are viewing a sample edition of The BookBrowse Review for members. To learn more about membership, click here.
Back    Next

Contents

In This Edition of
The BookBrowse Review

Highlighting indicates debut books

Editor's Introduction
Reviews
Hardcovers Paperbacks
First Impressions
Recommended for Book Clubs
Publishing Soon

Novels


Historical Fiction


Short Stories/Essays


Mysteries


Thrillers


Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Alternate History


Biographies/Memoirs


History, Science & Current Affairs


Young Adults

Novels


Romance


Extras
  • Blog:
    Give Your Old Books A New Lease on Life
  • Notable:
    @RailBookClub
  • Wordplay:
    O H Die H
  • Quote:
    A library is thought in cold storage
Andy Weir
Andy Weir

Andy Weir Biography

Andy Weir was first hired as a programmer for a national laboratory at age fifteen and has been working as a software engineer ever since. He is also a lifelong space nerd and a devoted hobbyist of subjects like relativistic physics, orbital mechanics, and the history of manned spaceflight. The Martian is his first novel.


This biography was last updated on 02/20/2014.

A note about the biographies
We try to keep BookBrowse's biographies both up to date and accurate. However, with over 2000 lives to keep track of it's inevitable that some won't be as current or as complete as we would like. So, please help us - if the information about a particular author is out of date, inaccurate or simply very short, and you know of a more complete source, please let us know. Authors and those connected with authors: If you wish to make changes to your bio, please send your complete biography as you would like it displayed so that we replace the old with the new, including your website URL if relevant.

Interview

A Conversation with SpaceGeek and Science Fanatic Andy Weir, author of The Martian

So it seems you're a bit of a science geek.  You list space travel, orbital dynamics, relativistic physics, astronomy, and the history of manned spaceflight among your interests. How did you incorporate these passions into your debut novel The Martian?
Those interests allowed me to come up with the story in the first place. I love reading up on current space research. At some point I came up with the idea of an astronaut stranded on Mars. The more I worked on it, the more I realized I had accidentally spent my life researching for this story. Early on, I decided that I would be as scientifically accurate as possible. To a nerd like me, working out all the math and physics for Mark's problems and solutions was fun.

In one sentence, tell us what your novel is all about.
It's the story of an astronaut trying to survive after being accidentally left behind on Mars.

Explain how the science in The Martian is true to life.
The basic structure of the Mars program in the book is very similar to a plan called "Mars Direct" (though I made changes here and there). It's the most likely way that we will have our first Mars mission in real life. All the facts about Mars are accurate, as well as the physics of space travel the story presents. I even calculated the various orbital paths involved in the story, which required me to write my own software to track constant-thrust trajectories.

What inspired you to write The Martian?
I was thinking about how best to do a manned Mars mission (because that's the sort of dork I am). As the plan got more detailed, I started imagining what it would be like for the astronauts. Naturally, when designing a mission, you think up disaster scenarios and how likely the crew would be to survive. That's when I started to realize this had real story potential.

Are you an advocate for a manned mission to Mars? Are you hopeful we'll actually make it out there sometime soon?
Of course I'm a huge fan of space travel, manned and unmanned. I would love to see people land on Mars in my lifetime. However, do I think it will actually happen? I'm not sure. Unlike the 1960s, we're not in a race with anyone to get there, so it's not a priority. Also, computer and robotics technologies are leaps and bounds better than they were during the days of Apollo. So logically, you have to ask why we would risk human lives rather than just make better robots. Still, it would be awesome, and maybe that's reason enough.

Do you have anything in common with your wise-cracking hero Mark Watney?
I'm the same level of smart-ass as he is. It was a really easy book to write; I just had him say what I would say. However, he's smarter than I am and considerably more brave. I guess he's who I wish I were.

In The Martian, Watney has access to his crewmates digital entertainment on Mars, including TV episodes of Three's Company, a variety of Beatles songs, and digital books including The Mysterious Affair at Styles. Any reason you chose to work those specific examples into the novel?
It's a selection of things I loved when I was growing up.

You're stranded on Mars and you can only take one book with you.  What is it?
It's always hard to pick one "favorite book." Growing up, I loved early Heinlein books most of all. So if I had to pick one, I'd go with Tunnel in the Sky. I do love a good survival story.

How long do you think you'd last if you were left in Mark Watney's position?
Not long at all. I don't know how to grow crops, nor how to jury-rig the solutions he came up with. It's a lot easier to write about an ordeal than it is to experience it.

You have the chance to meet any astronaut living or dead: Who is it and why?
John Young. He is the quintessential astronaut. Competent, fearless, highly intelligent, and seemingly immune to stress. When Apollo 16 launched, his heart rate never got higher than 70. Most astronauts spike to at least 120 during launches.

Watney seems to be able to maneuver his way around some pretty major problems with a little duct tape and ingenuity! So he's a bit like MacGyver in that way. Did you watch the show as a kid? Any favorite episodes?
Indeed I did! I loved that show. My favorite episode was the one where engineering students had a barricade contest.

Star Wars or Star Trek?
Doctor Who.

Your idea of the perfect day . . .
Sleep in. Meet Buzz Aldrin for brunch. Head over to Jet Propulsion Lab and watch them control the Curiosity Mars rover. Dinner with the writing staff of Doctor Who.

How did you feel when your original, self-published version of The Martian became a phenomenon online? Were you expecting the overwhelmingly positive reception the book received?
I had no idea it was going to do so well. The story had been available for free on my website for months and I assumed anyone who wanted to read it had already read it. A few readers had requested I post a Kindle version because it's easier to download that way. So I went ahead and did it, setting the price to the minimum Amazon would allow. As it sold more and more copies I just watched in awe.

Film rights to The Martian were sold to writer-producer Simon Kinberg (Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Sherlock Holmes, X-Men: First Class). What was your first reaction? Who should play the part of Mark Watney?
Of course I'm thrilled to have a movie in the works. The movie deal and print publishing deal came within a week of each other, so I was a little shell-shocked. In fact, it was such a sudden launch into the big leagues that I literally had a difficult time believing it. I actually worried it could all be an elaborate scam. So I guess that was my first reaction: "Is this really happening!?" As for who could play Watney, I think some good candidates would be Aaron Paul and Chris Evans.

What's next for you?
I have a few irons in the fire. There's a long-running sci-fi story I've been poking at here and there for a while. Though based on the response from The Martian, I might go with a different story idea I have in mind: a "science-crime" novel. Lots of problem-solving as technically savvy criminals match wits with an equally savvy FBI agent trying to track them down.


Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher. This interview may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the copyright holder.

Books Featured at BookBrowse

If you enjoy Andy Weir's books, try these!


Caroline Alexander

Caroline Alexander was born in Florida, of British parents and has lived in Europe, Africa and the Caribbean. She studied philosophy and theology at Oxford as a Rhodes scholar and has a doctorate in classics from Columbia ... (more)

Davide Longo

Davide Longo was born in 1971 in the province of Torino, Italy. In addition to novels, he writes books for children, short stories, and articles.

Susan Beth Pfeffer

Susan Beth Pfeffer was born in New York City. She grew up in the city and its nearby suburbs and spent summers in the Catskill Mountains. When she was six her father wrote and published a book on constitutional law, and ... (more)

Charlotte Rogan

Charlotte Rogan graduated from Princeton University in 1975. She worked at various jobs, mostly in the fields of architecture and engineering, before teaching herself to write and staying home to bring up triplets. An old ... (more)
If you enjoyed
The Martian

Try
The Lifeboat
by Charlotte Rogan

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.