The Martian – Apples to Oranges
I will admit it. I secretly wanted to be an astronaut when I was a child. I imagined myself floating in zero gravity and seeing Earth from way above. It was my dream until Jan 28, 1986 when the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up. Then it became essential to get a job with my two feet safely on the ground. But a part of me never stopped being fascinated with space exploration. I have watched Tom Hanks’ Apollo 13 a zillion times and I am constantly recommending Mary Roach’s Packing for Mars: the Curious Science of Life in the Void. Despite my personal interest, I believe that as a society we have lost our national enthusiasm for space achievements.
Then Andy Weir came into our lives and got us all excited about saving Matt Damon.
Andy Weir, a self-proclaimed space nerd, wrote a book called the Martian in which a space crew member is left behind on Mars and must survive unbelievable obstacles as everyone else struggles to help him from another planet.
There were pros and cons to both versions. What I enjoyed most about the book was the small details and scientific explanations. Here are a few examples:
Potatoes: When I saw the movie, I couldn’t figure out how the astronauts brought fresh produce with them to Mars. If any space museum gift shop is to be believed, they are supposed to eat freeze dried packaged food. In the book, it was explained that special food, including potatoes, was given to the crew to enjoy during a future Thanksgiving meal to boost morale. In the movie, there is a split second shot of Matt Damon opening a plastic tub labeled “Don’t open until Thanksgiving”. Did we need to know why they had potatoes on board their shuttle? It wasn’t necessary for the movie but it gave layers of depth to Andy’s book. Getting all the details correct can’t be said for the film. I saw the movie with a chef, who is still waiting for an explanation on how Mark Watney could have planted Yukon Gold potatoes that produced multi-color potatoes.
Depleting Oxygen Levels: In the movie, the audience hears warning notices from his suit that he was dangerously low on oxygen after his initial injury that damaged his suit. The book goes for pages on how the suit works, what steps would happen when it starts to lose oxygen and what Mark needed to do to survive. The movie accomplished the same situation with high pitched beeping. Both versions worked for their audiences but you felt smarter after reading the book.
It was much easier to read about Mark’s initial injuries in the book because there was a detachment from the pain with explanations of his medical training. In the movie, I cringed with every single staple. I also applaud the movie version for bringing the introduction of the entire crew to the start of the movie because we understood why Mark didn’t blame them for leaving him on Mars and why the crew would risk their lives to save him.
Which one did I enjoy best? Drum roll please…. the movie!
I didn’t pick the movie because of Matt Damon. Well, he certainly helped tip the scales in the movie’s favor but I really selected the film version because of the way I felt when I left the movie theater. The overall message I took from the movie was that you could overcome any obstacle with some brain power and a great sense of humor. These are qualities I wish I had more of personally. I would have died when the food ran out because I never would have figured out how to produce food on Mars. I couldn’t even keep an herb garden alive during a harsh summer. But the bad day I was having, when I decided to treat myself to the latest Matt Damon movie, felt completely insignificant. I came back to my challenge with renewed vigor the next day. I have air, water, and a wide variety of condiments to enjoy with my potatoes. It’s all about one’s perspective.
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.
Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there.
After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.
Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first.
But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?
For April’s blog post, since Season 1 has just finished airing on MTV, next month we will be discussing Terry Brooks’ Shannara series. Which version did you enjoy?
Columnist: Jessie lives in Oregon and writes to avoid the rain. She only feels compelled to kill her characters when she starts a new diet and if she hates the ending of a TV episode she’ll rewrite it to give everyone a happily ever after. Currently Jessie is an unpublished author but she works tirelessly to removed two letters – un – from that word.
Column book and movie tape drawn by Evangeline Owen
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