The Martian: A Novel, Andy Weir (2014, read 2015)
LOG ENTRY: SOL 381 I’ve been thinking about laws on Mars. Yeah, I know, it’s a stupid thing to think about, but I have a lot of free time. There’s an international treaty saying no country can lay claim to anything that’s not on Earth. And by another treaty, if you’re not in any country’s territory, maritime law applies. So Mars is “international waters.” NASA is an American nonmilitary organization, and it owns the Hab. So while I’m in the Hab, American law applies. As soon as I step outside, I’m in international waters. Then when I get in the rover, I’m back to American law. Here’s the cool part: I will eventually go to Schiaparelli and commandeer the Ares 4 lander. Nobody explicitly gave me permission to do this, and they can’t until I’m aboard Ares 4 and operating the comm system. After I board Ares 4, before talking to NASA, I will take control of a craft in international waters without permission. That makes me a pirate! A space pirate! — Andy Weir, The Martian: A Novel, pg. 259, loc. 4192-4202
Imperfect, but I loved the book, especially its technical details, many of which seem well-researched and accurate. It’s hilarious, too – Whitney’s character is extremely likable.
I only disliked Weir’s narration at certain points, especially leading up to some of the minor disasters. It’s a good idea, but I didn’t care for his tone or execution. That said, he’s still a good writer.
Also, as I read online after reading the book, there is a minor plot flaw: anyone half as smart as Whitney – and certainly any NASA astronaut – would have known quickly that NASA would know they were alive. Why? They knew NASA had satellites monitoring the planet, and would especially monitor the area after the storm/accident. NASA would know there were survivors from changed satellite imagery rather quickly. This doesn’t significantly change the plot, as Watney’s still alone, but it does change his emotions in the beginning of the story.
I look forward to the movie, as it’s possibly my first movie seeing after I’ve read the book.
I should feel free to more liberally highlight the next novel I read! (Only had a few pages of highlights total)