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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


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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