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Is there life on Mars?

I have on occasion fantasised about what music and books I would choose should I find myself invited on to Desert Island Discs and how I would cope if abandoned on a deserted island. But I can’t begin to imagine how I would survive if I found myself alone on Mars?

Geraldine Gardner

geraldine.gardner@newburynews.co.uk

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01635 886684

Is there life on Mars?

The opening lines of The Martian are somewhat reminiscent of the opening scene of Four Weddings and a Funeral when Hugh Grant realises he is going to be late and utters one word several times.

Astronaut Mark Watney has a similar reaction when he realises that he is alive but alone on Mars, although in this instance the expletives seem, if anything, under-stated.

On the face of it The Martian is not my sort of book at all – action in out of space does not immediately catch my attention but it was recommended to me and so I took the plunge and I have to say I loved it - it’s a very engaging read.

I struggled a bit at the start as some of the detail is very technical and scientific and as neither chemistry nor physics were my strong point at school I could make neither head nor tail of what our hapless astronaut was talking about.

I was just thinking maybe I’d have to give up when something happened, which literally made me sit up and go ‘oh this is interesting’ and from then on I zipped through it and didn’t worry about what I couldn’t understand. I just accepted that scientifically it must be possible.

Yes, it is a bit far-fetched and is heading for an obvious conclusion, but it’s still a roller-coaster read and if, like me, you’re not particularly into out of space adventures, give it a go.

Mark Watney, our abandoned hero is quite a character and has an amusing, wry take on his situation, but he’s also a gung-ho, all-action gutsy guy with a never-say-die attitude.

In The Martian, Andy Weir has created realistic characters who react in a human way and therefore you can feel the tension and empathise with the predicaments they have to deal with. The Martian is a book with attitude.

And I enjoyed the film just as much as the book - Matt Damon played the central role with relish and the supporting cast were equally 'on board'. Its not often that a film of a book lives up to expectations, but in this instance it did.

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