seanpersaud replied to your post:I saw The Martian yesterdayI have this book sitting in front of me….

Monday, October 5th, 2015

I have this book sitting in front of me. I intended to read it before seeing the book but sometimes we don’t get what we want. Should I wait and read the book first or see the movie and read it after?

Because of how closely the movie tracks the book’s plot, whichever you do first is going to spoil you for the second. The way I did it (book first, then movie) certainly worked; there was plenty to enjoy in the movie even knowing what was going to happen. But I think it would work the other way, too, and might even work better, because:

  • You’ll have the movie characters in your head while you’re reading the book. That normally seems like a potential downside to me, because much-loved book characters have a way of becoming over-simplified in movie form, but in this case I think the realistic-characterization arrow points the other way.
  • You’ll get to experience the movie sooner and with a bigger audience, which I certainly enjoyed, and which ought to add to the fun.
  • A lot of what was left out of the movie was the detail of how Watney worked out the solutions to his problems. And you can totally still enjoy that when you read the book. It will be like a super-bonus-extended version of the movie, since most of the parts left out could totally have happened off-camera in the movie as-shown.

I don’t know what sort of reading you’re into. When I was younger I loved sci fi, especially authors like Niven and Heinlein and Zelazny. Weir mentioned in one of his interviews that Heinlein was his favorite, and it really shows in the book, because the long sections of “smart person figures out complex technical problem while explaining it interestingly” could have come straight out of the pages of Have Space Suit – Will Travel or The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. For me it was wonderful to read an homage to those books, though that might not be as strong a factor for someone who wasn’t raised with them.

Either way, enjoy! I hope you’ll share what you think after seeing and/or reading it!

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I saw The Martian yesterday

Monday, October 5th, 2015

Long, rambly, but mostly non-spoilery thoughts after a cut.

  • They did not screw it up. It’s extremely faithful to the book’s old-school “hard sci-fi” sensibility.
  • Having read the book multiple times (including one time reading it out loud, which really tends to cement a book in my brain), I was super-aware of any departures from the text. There were very few.
  • The main adaptation changes were in leaving some specific incidents out, and glossing over some of the technical detail. Which made sense, given the already-long running time.
  • Some of the weaker parts of the book (the back-on-Earth characterizations and dialog, is what I’m thinking of) were fixed by just not having those characters do too much. It turns out that having a two-dimensional/cardboard-cutout level of characterization works just fine as a minor character with only a few minutes of screen time,
  • A lot was riding on Matt Damon’s portrayal of Watney. And he delivered. It’s the main reason the movie is compelling. I saw it in a packed theater where the audience was really into it. The lady on my left didn’t know the story, I’m pretty sure, and she was super caught up in what was going to happen. The biggest addition the movie brought to the experience of having read the book was in Damon’s wordless portrayal of Watney’s emotions at key moments. Those parts were powerful.
  • There was a smallish departure from the book during the climax. I could see how it made the ending more emotionally satisfying, and it was really quite restrained. I’m a curmudgeon about stuff like this, but I give it a pass.
  • I saw it in 3D, which I usually avoid, because the showtime fit my schedule better. And it was fine. I had no issues with the 3D.
  • The attempts to make Mars look epically cinematic occasionally felt a little forced. I know it’s Ridley Scott and that’s his look, so it’s okay. I guess my inner curmudgeon wanted something a little more subtle. But you need soaring cliffs and whatnot if you’re going to show off the 3D.

My overall takeaway: For me personally, it wasn’t a great movie, because it just felt a little cold and simple and straightforward. But that was the book. Comparing it to the two other big quasi-realistic space sci fi movies I’ve seen in the last few years (Gravity and Interstellar), I think I’d have to say that The Martian is the best when evaluated strictly by the standards of realistically non-stupid sci-fi, with Gravity the worst and Interstellar somewhere in between. But as a movie, in terms of its emotional impact, The Martian fell a little short of Interstellar, at least for me.

But it was really good. And it was cool to have a movie that was so faithful to the kind of sci fi I grew up reading.

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maxiekat: THE MARTIAN – Ares 3: Farewell  – introducing the…

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015


THE MARTIAN – Ares 3: Farewell 
– introducing the crew

I’m getting cautiously optimistic. I re-read the book after seeing the trailer, and I know a trailer can be cut to craft any impression you want, but the trailer sure sticks close to the book. And this “viral” trailer, which I hadn’t seen until now, again seems consistent.

The most exciting thing about The Martian for me was how it embraced the values of the “hard” sf Andy Weir (and I) grew up with. I know there are problematic things about that genre. But its rules are baked into my story-processing apparatus at a pretty deep level. If you’re going to show me something packaged as science fiction I’m going to measure it against those rules. Too often, movie sf falls short.

Anyone who’s seen movies made from beloved stories knows how badly it can go. But sometimes it can go right. I hope this is one of those times.

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markwatney: Help is only 140 million miles away. I enjoyed…

Monday, June 8th, 2015


Help is only 140 million miles away.

I enjoyed this book a lot. It reminded me of the old-school sci fi I grew up with. Glad to hear it’s going to be a movie; hopefully one that honors the source material by not being movie-stupid.

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