Podcast - Adam Savage Project

SPOILERCAST: The Martian, by Andy Weir – 10/7/2014

Adam, Norm, and Will discuss Andy Weir’s debut novel, The Martian. This podcast is full of spoilers, so if you don’t want key plot elements of the novel spoiled, skip the episode! Enjoy!

Comments (91)

91 thoughts on “SPOILERCAST: The Martian, by Andy Weir – 10/7/2014

  1. I just finished reading the book on Sunday evening in a frantic rush to be ready for this spoilercast – I am so psyched to hear what you fellows have to say – here it goes – I clicking play right now! 🙂

  2. That is some special video later in this podcast – how about if we keep it a secret for the comments so people have to watch to find out the secret “mission failure”

  3. I love the book, I had just finished it when you guys mentioned it for the first time on the podcast. I’ve read it 5-6 times already and I keep going back to it and discovering more and more details.

  4. I loved the book (and am waiting on my next Audible credit to listen to the audio book), but the thing that took me most out of the story was wondering about the disparity in force between the different sand storms which are key to the plot.

    Weir did such an excellent job selling how thin the atmosphere is over the course of the novel that I had trouble at times not feeling that the sandstorm which caused the whole cascading scenario couldn’t possibly have had enough force to blow Watney (and the communications dish) away from the rest of the crew.

    Sure, the dish would have had surface area, but then what of the undisturbed state of Sojourner, or else any of the probes that landed via airbag. Seems like those should have been disturbed as well, but were depicted as undisturbed.

    Granted, without that first storm, Weir doesn’t get to spin the rest of this excellent yarn. Just my nitpick.

  5. I saw a quote somewhere about Mars recently that made me clinically giggle.

    “Unless we find life there or we colonize it, Mars has a completely robotic population!”

    -Random Redditer

  6. It was the Apollo 7 crew (Wally Schirra, Don Eisle, and Walt Cunningham) that had the “attitude problem” that resulted in them never flying again.

    Ian McShane is the guy from Deadwood/Pirates of the Carribbean that you guys envisioned as Mitch.

  7. That is some special video later in this podcast – how about if we keep it a secret for the comments so people have to watch to find out the secret “mission failure”

    I love the photo part way though that pops up of Adam in a cardboard box and child made space suit… Oh wait… We’re not spoiling the picture show.

    Nothing to see here.

  8. Oh man I’ve been looking forward to this particular Still Untitled Spoilercast. Just now sitting down at work and listening to this.

  9. Andy Weir gives a talk at Google (available on YouTube) in which he concedes the sandstorm was a stretch. He also shows off the orbital dynamics simulation he wrote to work out where everything was in the novel.

    He says there may be a competition to identify the date of the mission at some point in the future, all the clues are in the book.

  10. How are we going to survive on Mars, when we can’t even get a reliable video feed from the bloody Mission District?!

    We are fucked! 😅

  11. My understanding is that next week’s podcast will be via morse code from the roof of Adam’s cave as photographed by Google Earth cameras! 😅

    How are we going to survive on Mars, when we can’t even get a reliable video feed from the bloody Mission District?!

    We are fucked! 😅

  12. It may be too much of a stretch for his dramatic acting chops but tbh I wonder how Chris Pratt would do as Watney. He’s not too much of a leading man and that’s what Watney felt like to me. He felt like a supporting character that accidentally became the lead. Also the sense of humour would really fit I think.

    Oh and Gina Torres from Firefly as Lewis gets my vote.

    Another key piece of casting would be Venkat Kapoor. I have no ideas for that though. But I think he is more important than Mitch as the Earth side of the story really pivots around him.

  13. You should give “The Postmortal” by Drew Magary a read…it has a similar approach to plausible near-future science fiction, both in its science and societal reactions. It’s a wonderful first novel on a world without natural death.

  14. I had a 9 hour drive coming up last weekend so I subscribed to audible and got the book. I had to listen at 1.25X speed to finish it before my trip was over. SO excited to watch this cast!!!

  15. Oh and Gina Torres from Firefly as Lewis gets my vote.


    for Venkat, i would cast Dileep Rao (Inception, Avatar) or Bernard White (on the World Security Council in The Winter Soldier)

  16. There are a few little tiny things that are off with the book like the number of wheels on a rover, not having even one of the solar panels hooked up during the drive, the airlock being so small that he could only get 3 cubic feet of dirt in at a time (he had three airlocks why not use all of them?) Other than my moaning a bloody excellent book.

    Some Moon style filming could make this film work really well, especially for things like the first Hab explosion. Show the before and the after journal entries then show a flash back of the explosion. Seeing the flight couches and everything else just being launched out of the MAV from a distance would be a good shot.

  17. It was the Apollo 7 crew (Wally Schirra, Don Eisle, and Walt Cunningham) that had the “attitude problem” that resulted in them never flying again.

    Ian McShane is the guy from Deadwood/Pirates of the Carribbean that you guys envisioned as Mitch.

    Was going to post that but you beat me to it!

    How are we going to survive on Mars, when we can’t even get a reliable video feed from the bloody Mission District?!

    We are fucked! 😅

    “How are we going to get to the moon if we can’t talk between two buildings!” I’m guessing you’re referencing Apollo 1 here?

    Apollo 13 is my favorite movie. I’m wearing a knockoff Omega Speedmaster right now. I’m obsessed with space history; it’s my one true love. I’m so glad you guys loved this book too and I can’t wait for the movie!

    you mentioned The Hunt for Red October as describing technical problems in a similar fashion. Would you suggest any other technical books of this nature that are worth reading? The last book I read that had a good mix of technical content to physical narriative was How Apollo Flew to the Moon by David Woods, but it was about 90/10 tech to story.

    Not sure if it was a little Kubrickian of Weir, but I loved how Aries 3, the third manned mission to Mars, was the failed mission. Little hat tip perhaps that Apollo 13 was to be the third mission to land on the Moon. Alongside the other nods to the Apollo 1 fire and that CO2 scrubbing canisters had been standardized after A13.

    I’m glad you guys discussed the math in this book, particularly the style and relative simplicity. It very much reminded me of Charles Lindbergh in The Spirit of St. Louis doing fuel calculations and mental math to keep himself awake/alert. I loved that part as well. I loved all of it. I could go on but I’ll continue my discussion with my roommates once they finish reading the book!

  18. Just finished the book over the weekend as well. I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to listening to the spoilercast later today.

  19. The camera isn’t as big as you might think. When I bought it a couple of years ago we went through all the choices at B&H and most of the consumer cameras were too small and inflexible. A pro video guy convinced me that the added features were worth the extra size and cost. The size hasn’t turned to be as big an issue as thought it would and I’ve been lugging it all over NYC and environs for two years now I put it on top of my photo bag when I’m on travel and use a little Slik 20 tripod to shoot on a table. For inside work it’s a good compromise and I carry it all over the place. No it’s not as small as a Go Pro, but I think it would fit in typical messenger bag. But for things like podcasting, where you’re already carrying all that sound gear? Something like this should be a non issue.

  20. Just finished the book on my lunch break, so this was an interesting coincidence, and I’m of two minds.

    Some nice tension (even if I never had any doubt of the outcome), and obviously the detail and research is really impressive, but to me it’s really a matter of craft over art.

    Even Watney is only about half a character, despite us spending hundreds of pages basically inside his head. The rest of the characters are 1.5-dimensional at best, and I find there to just be a conspicuous lack of, well, soul, I guess is the only way to put it.

    The idea Norm puts forward of people loving these sorts of ‘thought experiments’ is a valid one, but the whole book just feels like an extended series of Youtube walkthroughs for tech lifehacks or something.

    I think Adam’s offhand observation at around the 24:00 mark about it being the best of “science writing” is telling. It may well be, but it’s just not great fiction writing.

    Intellectually, it’s certainly impressive, but I also fully agree with something Norm said at some point, this will function better as a movie than it did as a book, because that way you get actors and characters to really invest in.

  21. Bah, I only got halfway through it this weekend, but so far it’s excellent. Definitely a love letter to engineers. I’ll be saving this spoilercast for later, and I’m sorry to be missing out on the semi-live discussion here.

  22. I am almost ashamed to admit, I haven’t chewed my way through a book, like I chewed my way through The Martian, in… ummm… a decade… maybe more.

    I laughed aloud with it… I teared up with it… I am SO glad you recommended it.

    Now if I could only get some of the humans around me to also read it, so I’d have someone to talk about this book with.

    Thanks for the spoilercast, being a bit of a stand-in for that.

    Bummer about the camera, but the Mars pix were an awesome 2nd choice


  23. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

    That was just a bit of my frustration coming out over the GoPro going down.. 😳


    The often used mantra, “Two is one. One is none.” doesn’t only apply to defensive firearms..

  24. No surprise to me your GoPro 3 failed mid podcast, I have had experience with every model, all have failed for one reason or another. I migrated to Sony products and have had a superior experience over the flawed action cameras when used for videoing ultralight aircraft. I have found that there are just too many compromises made in producing a camera as small as required for helmet mounting. Nice “save” posting the Mars pictures but seriously consider upgrading your studio camera. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVjBgv6Tymg

  25. Its really too bad that it is getting made into a film. Sometimes when a book this good comes along I would much rather see it as show (Band of Brothers esque) of maybe 2 seasons, so essentially 20 1.25 hr long episodes with all Mars drama told through the couple of cameras (maybe fixed diary cameras or rover cameras?) Watney has on hand, self narration, and satellite photos. The transitions and timing between dramatic set pieces within the book perfectly match that of a show such as Game of Thrones and think it is just way too much to include in a single film. Also the gravity (see what I did there) of each of his accomplishments, mishaps, and failures probably cannot be captured faithfully on film. I am just thinking there would be too much action and not enough depth. Oh well, at least the film is in the more than capable hands of Ridley Scott. Here’s to hoping the movie is great! Expecting a full spoilercast when it comes out…or maybe even a TESTED viewing party!!!! Wouldn’t that be something.

    Paul Bettany (sans accent), Edward Norton, or Brendan Fraser.

  26. 17 minutes in, I was so intrigued that I hit pause and went to order the book. I’ll listen to the rest of the podcast when I’ve read the book =)

    PS. I also ordered The Maltese Falcon as the guys have been talking about that book earlier too.

  27. Will,

    I used a Sony HDR CX500 with Raynox .5 and .7 wide angle attachment lens and circular polarizing filter, I fabricated anti-vibration mounting systems to reduce the excessive vibration of the 2-cycle engines and props when the camera was not being hand held. My option now is to try a GoPro 4 or continue on with the Sony cameras, considering my past experience I will probably just upgrade to a newer Sony.

  28. Thank you so much for inspiring me to read this book!

    Once I heard you were doing this spoilercast I got the book and started reading. I finished the last 20 pages in the car, in the dark with the rain pouring down. Then I started listening to podcast. It’s the best book I’ve read in years! To be honest, it’s the only book I’ve read in years… This is why I’m so proud to be a Tested member and part of this community.

    You guys are an inspiration on so many levels! I’d love for you to do more spoiler casts on books, and of course movies!

  29. Why isn’t C3P0 and T5 having a game of cards.

    I remember when My wife and I were courting She lived in London and I lived the other end of the M4. I used to drive there and back late at night. (5 hours straight drive). To keep my self awake I used to work out how many bolts there were on the central reservation. on the 220 miles of motorway. Man that math hurt

  30. I totally concur with on this – Red Mars blew me away when I first read it on a cross country drive 20 years ago. The science is so right on and the story is character driven and compelling to the nth degree. Green Mars was almost as good but Blue Mars did get really soapish towards the end. Nevertheless, Kim Stanley Robinson is a fantastic author and I heartily recommend the Mars trilogy as well as his Antarctica book.

    Let me think about it and post some more recommendations. The Red Mars trilogy is an obvious starting point. The first book is incredible, but the followups aren’t as good, and it gets a bit soap opera-y by the end.

  31. Think the book missed a trick. Would loved to have seen a team trying to figure out what was going on on Mars by testing ideas out in the desert somewhere. (Sounds like a job for The Myth Busters) Would work well in a movie. Suddenly massive bloody explosion and audience fears our hero is dead. It’s OK. Relax. That’s definitely a badly singed beard but our hero doesn’t have red hair…

  32. Dream cast!

    Mark Watney – Brent Spiner!

    Argument: Intelligence and wit in spades! Perhaps not young enough, but that may just add to the characters appeal.

    Second choice for Watney, Adam freakin’ Savage! Why the hell not? He’d be perfect!, wit, intelligence, capacity to spin techno babble so that it’s intelligible. The only quality he may not posses to the level that Mr. Scott would want, is acting. Don’t get me wrong, Adam’s got skillz! but to achieve some of the emotional expression, it will be a challenge to be sure. I’m curious – and no, I don’t actually see this happening – if Adam was offered the part, would he take it, if it interfered with other filming responsibilities.

    As far as Matt Damon goes, I’d actually prefer they pick someone else. a) Matt Damon is a big name, and a familiar face. Many movies do just fine with a recognizable actor, and Matt’s done some great stuff, but I think this is one of those movies that needs a fresh face, someone who really makes you ask the question ‘is this guy going to make it through this?’. b) there isn’t much about Damon that shouts Astronaut, Botanist, Engineer. He certainly has the wit, and he not only pulls off smart but is himself very intelligent, but there doesn’t seem to be much about him that intuitively adds to his believability as being at the top of not only his game(Botany), but engineering as well, not to mention all the other qualifications they need. I’m sure Matt could/will do a great job in the role; but, I see this as an opportunity to put either a fresh faced actor will some real intellectual gravity to him, or heck, why not cast a real astronaut [like Hadfield?](obviously one with at least passable acting skills). So much of what happens in the movie would be easy for an astronaut, and any lack in acting skill could be dismissed [at least by me] if the general public knew the this guy was 100% legit genius space dude.

    Also, Jeff Daniels might be on board!…

    Another big name has been launched into consideration for Ridley Scott’s sci-fi filmThe Martian. Emmy winnerJeff Danielsis the latest actor in talks to joinMatt Damonin the movie about a stranded astronaut struggling to survive. Daniels would play the NASA director dealing with the crisis back on Earth.Jessica Chastain, Kristen WiigandKate Maramay also star in the film written byDrew Goddard(World War Z)andadapted from the self-published book of the same name by Andy Weir.

    Lastly, can I take this opportunity to express my dissatisfaction with Hollywood’s propensity for casting models in movies. I’m not saying an entire cast is often models, and I’m not saying models shouldn’t be cast, and I realize that they might just be talented actresses who happen to look really good. Taking The Martian as an example, so far all the female actors are extremely attractive, and Matt Damon isn’t bad himself. This impacts the believeability for me. When I think of NASA, I don’t think of skinny 20 year olds.


  33. When I heard you guys were doing a spoiler cast on The Martian I had an extra Audible credit laying around, so I bought the book and finished in two days. Wow, one of the most amazing books I’ve read in a long time. Completely awesome.

  34. I really stopped listening to this podcast because now I want to read the book, you guys have a really exciting way to getting us into things we might not be interested if heard from other places. Thank you! Keep all these awesome things coming.

  35. I will simply echo the sentiment of others.

    I plowed through the book over the weekend in preparation for this podcast and all I can say is…I spent the majority of Saturday listening to my wife ask if I was going to “get anything done” today….to which I barked “later!!!”.

    This was a wonderful read and I have since recommended it to all of my colleagues at work..(nerd software engineers)…

    Thank you for a a wonderful Saturday guys….Very much appreciated…

  36. I read it the weekend before last, just because this spoilercast was coming up. Definitely the highest tingly feeling per page rate I’ve ever had from reading a book.

  37. As a meta-freak I’d like to thank you for the spoiler-casts. I love listening to people talking about media without consuming it myself. I have not watched or read any of the films or books you talked about, but I love listening. Does anybody else feel the same?

  38. You guys must have really loved this book. Not a single segue in sight!

    Nooooo, I haven’t read it, but I couldn’t stop listening damnit! I am weak.

    I’ve always thought starship troopers would make a fantastic film if they played it straight and did it exactly like the book.

  39. Hello!

    My name is Juhani Jokinen. I’m a long time listener ( first time poster ) and a fan as well as a concept artist in the entertainment industry. Currently I work at Ubisoft designing environments and props for games.

    The moment I finished this great book from Andy Weir I decided to start a personal project designing some of the equipment from the book. While listening I thought that some of you might be interested in seeing some of my designs. I started with the EVA suit and I’ll post a link to that below. However, my knowledge of real space suits is limited and I didn’t take notes while reading the book ( stupid me ) so the design contains a lot of inaccuracies- I merely wanted to explore what a spacesuit, that still remains familiar to us and at least looks functional on the surface might be like.

    I’ve already started working on the rover but that’ll take a bit of time to finish.

    Here’s the link:


    Here’s my portfolio to those interested.


    Thanks a lot for the great content guys!


  40. Thanks for recommending this book. Loved it. It made my laugh, cry, and lose a day at work listening to the audiobook. As an electrical engineer, I appreciate all the problems Mark goes through. Weir didn’t prefer to explain just the mechanical problems. Computer, electrical, mechanical, biological, and social engineering are all wonderful.

    My cast for The Martian would be Matt Damon as Mark Watney, Alan Arkin as Mitch, Liev Schrieber as the cosmonaut, Jessica Chastain as Commander Lewis, and Karl Urban as Teddy. Venkat’s character is important for the movie, but I don’t know who would fit there. Honestly, I haven’t watched enough movies to do any casting. They should hire Adam to do some design for the movie. He is passionate about space suit design.

    Thanks also for turning me on to Fashioning Apollo. That book was well-written and the battle between designs was crazy. Should Playtex have product placement in the movie?

  41. Listened to the SpoilerCast yesterday. I had never heard of “The Martian”, but I was intrigued by your description. I bought the book yesterday around Noon and it was phenomenal! I may or may not (re: I did) blow off some things I should have been doing to read the book yesterday, but I ended up finishing last night at 2AM. I’m exhausted at work today, but it was totally worth it. Keep the SpoilerCasts coming!

  42. For Mark Watney I elect Nathan Fillion. He could perfectly capture both the seriousness and humor of the character. I kept imagining him while reading it.

    For Venkat Kapoor I think either Amitabh Bachchan or Om Puri would be a good choice.

    Also, Niel Degrasse Tyson and/or Michio Kaku should have at least a cameo somewhere.

  43. Disregarding the frustratingly hackneyed plot, The Last Days On Mars did a great job of visually presenting a believable Mars mission. This was pretty much the mental image I had of the rover and the hab while I was reading the novel, anyway.

  44. Am I the only one that thinks the EVA suit is a little overbuilt? I understand that Mar’s atmosphere is super thin. but it seems the real barrier is Oxygen. A sealed helmet would easily solve the oxygen issue. I can tell you from living in Cold Lake Alberta, -50 Celsius is seriously cold, but by no means unmanageable; it’s mentioned in the book at one point that it was -60 Celsius. I can’t imagine there is that much difference between the -50 I grew up with, and -60. I see an effective Mars EVA suit as a sealed helmet, and a wind proof suite that is super insulated. If temperature is still an issue at that point, a reverse idea of Adam’s cooling suite would work: a hose that pipes in a slow stream of warm air. The suite wouldn’t be air proof, and the air would eventually escape, but you shouldn’t need a strong stream, and the air could come from Mars, and just ran over some heat sinks; honestly it shouldn’t be that hard to keep warm: a properly insulated suite keeps me toasty in -50.

    Does it get colder on Mars? Colder than -50? era, I guess I can just look that up, one sec….

    Ok, Wikipedia says:

    Surface temp. min mean max
    Kelvin 130 K 210 K[7] 308 K
    Celsius −143 °C[9] −63 °C 35 °C

    Plus 35°, that’s crazy warm. But −143 °C, not good. Damn, I figured I’d halved the cost of an EVA suite, hah. I guess NASA really knows what they’re doing. 😉

  45. Why should we be in space? Is it worth the cost? Should we give all this up and spend the money on Earth instead?

    “No. We have to stay here and there’s a simple reason why. Ask
    ten different scientists about the environment, population control,
    genetics and you’ll get ten different answers, but there’s one thing
    every scientist on the planet agrees on. Whether it happens in a
    hundred years or a thousand years or a million years, eventually our
    Sun will grow cold and go out. When that happens, it won’t just take
    us. It’ll take Marilyn Monroe and Lao-Tzu, Einstein, Morobuto, Buddy Holly, Aristophanes .. and all of this .. all of this
    was for nothing unless we go to the stars.”

    Cmdr. Jeff Sinclair, “Infection,” Babylon 5

  46. When I heard about the book from Tested.com and that Tested.com was going to do a spoilercast I rushed out and got The Martian from the library. I foolishly started reading it the night before I had early morning work to do. It got later and later and when I realized that I lacked the will power to put it down and go to sleep I finally resorted to “chemical assistance.” Then I missed nice afternoon weather, which is getting in shorter and shorter supply as we head towards winter, finishing the book. Best book I’ve read in years.

    Very funny that a camera breaks during the spoilercast of a book that has things breaking as major plot elements. But not quite as funny as when I watched Network in the theater. The film broke, and some clever person yelled out, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore.” Everyone was still laughing when the film resumed a couple of minutes later.

  47. Speaking of Deadwood, how about Gerald McRaney as one of the astronauts?

    I listened to the audiobook in many episodes, and found myself beginning to think of my home as my own ‘Hab’

    I enjoyed the audiobook, but there were times when I tired of stuff being explained to me. Pretty early on I accepted that he was clever and his explanations were correct, so I wondered why I needed so many of them – I liked his ideas, such as cutting Hab canvas to make his bedroom, but I only needed the broad outline of how he did it, not the detail.

  48. I kept seeing Nathan Fillion as Watney as I was reading it and Jodie Foster as the PR lady. For Mitch I thought Andy Serkis and for the Wimpy Boss Mathew Broderick

  49. Man, I bit the bullet and stopped the spoilercast 5 minutes in to go read the book. Basically I havent put it down since then. Great, great read. Ayyyyy!

    Page turner, funny and oh, so much lovely problem solving. I can see why this hits right home with Adam and the tested crowd. As a german engineer, my only two gripes so far are:

    – Vogel saying “Ja” instead of “Yes”. I know it’s a characterization, but a sloppy one. Give the guy some credit! He has studied a hell of a lot, works at ESA which operates in English, French and German and has trained with NASA and an american crew of Astronauts for years for this mission.

    He does not say Ja. That’s not how code switching works (going from one language to the next). The jumbled sentence structure is a stretch, given the proficiency he displays overall and his likely character background. But this “Ja” all the time makes him sound like a WW2 propaganda film nazi.

    – Why does Watney need to tear a big hole the trailer? In the communication with JPL it is established to be necessary in order to get the “Big three” into the rover: atmospheric regulator, oxygenator and water reclaimer. But when Mark actually loads up he is quite content to explain that they break down into multiple parts for shipping to mars, which makes sense. Can anyone appologize that, as Norm likes to put it?

  50. Fillion would be great, but playing Cactoid Jim burns him for that role in my opinion. At least to Thrilling Adventure Hour listeners 😀

    I would alwas look for blue marsians insisting on it being designated G’loot Praktaw.

  51. That would have to be one of the best books I have ever read, I seldom read fiction but this book got its claws into me and didn’t let go until the end. It has inspired me so much I have just signed up to go to mars, Well my name anyway

  52. The reason for the big hole is that although they break down into manageable components for maneuvering, they still need to be assembled into big honking things that won’t fit without the hole. That’s how I read it. And the do-it-yourself tent makes them accessible in a shirt-sleeve environment.

    –Paul E Musselman

  53. Awesome work, Thanks for the heads up about this Adam. Im not much of a reader so I got the audio which is genius! The accents and gender changes are phenomenal. thankyou thankyou thankyou!…

  54. I read online somewhere that Kate Mara was offered a role in the film. I have to imagine if that is true she’d be cast as Mindy.

  55. When i finished it, i started it over again. I don’t WANT to nitpik…but the central conceit of sending Raw unradiated potatoes into space for a 120 day trip bothers the crap out of me. If they sent potatoes, they would have sent carrots, and they would have been irradiated so they wouldn’t sprout. But if i ignore that, Best book i have read in years and years.

    my vote is for Laura Linney for Lewis

  56. Thanks God I bumped on this podcast after reading the book.

    Loved 90% of the book.

    Couldn’t stop reading it! Read it it two days.

    The technical parts are awesome!

    Didn’t like the ending very much … Very unlikely compared to everything that was so well worked to appear to be likely.

    Still, it is a very good book! Had lots of fun and laughed a lot with Mark jokes. I hope they come up with a better ending for the movie.

    Could not avoid thinking about Mark as Matt Damon though! LOL

    Looking forward to watching it when it comes out.

  57. First the simple bit, a mile is 1.6 km so Watney travelled 2000 miles on his last journey.

    This is the best fiction book I have read in a long time, although I agree that the ending is weak. I would cut the movie once the airlock door closes behind Watney and Beck. Let the viewer fill in the high five moments, parades etc that tend to ruin many movie endings. Actually Gravity is a good example.

    I think Matt Damon is perfect to play Watney, and I thought Jodie Foster could play Lewis. I thought that Ed Harris should play the NASA executive as a nod to his role on Apollo 13. It also provides a visual link for the audience to the links provided in the book.

  58. Finished the book yesterday and it was a very nice read!

    Would have been awesome if you guys did a build on the rover for example.

    Loved the spoilercast btw

  59. Admittedly I watched the spoilercast before reading the book…

    Before finishing the video I had downloaded it on kindle, and then I couldn’t put it down. Definitely one of my top ten books now.It’s technical, funny, smart, and just really well done.

    Thank you for this recommendation.

    You guys should do a “book club” segment. That would be really great.

    Excellent job with the map, if you made it. If you didn’t, thanks for that link 🙂

  60. Someone mentioned the goth girl on CSI…did you by any chance mean Abby from NCIS? Or am I missing something?

  61. I have learned several things. I will usually enjoy books/movies that are recommended here and to stay away from Spoilercasts until i have read/watched said media. The book was great. Just finished it last night and then listened to a great Spoilercast on the way to work. Thanks!

  62. OK, this book was absolutely astounding and nearing the end i was just waiting for another tragedy that would end up killing a member of the crew on Hermes….

    anyways, i can’t wait for a Talking Room with the author, but as part of that interview i have a huge request… Would it be possible to setup the talking room as a podcast? I know it isn’t as scheduled as your other podcasts, but it would super handy for downloading audio and taking it with me.

    I love the show!

  63. I think this book would be much better served as a Netflix or HBO mini series. Might not make as much cash as a feature, but my favorite parts of the book were the in depth explanations of the technical challenges. And that takes time. Time a feature won’t have.

    I also think its the only way to convey the feeling of tedium experienced on the surface and the tension on earth standing by helplessly. Moon did a fantastic job of conveying that tedium, but it doesn’t have a 1/10 of the survival challenges to explain and overcome. I think a feature is going to feel like Gravity on steroids if they attempt even half the plot.

    Don’t get me wrong though, I’d love to see a Ridley Scott feature! Its going to be awesome. Im actually one of the rare birds that really liked Prometheus.

    And Tig Notaro would be perfect for Lewis.

  64. thanks guys for suggesting the book, this was the first book in a long time that affected me the way it did!! i laughed, cringed and gasped when things happened and well i just don’t do that when listening to a book at least not very often. it was an awesome book!! here is a the wiki excerpt about the coming movie:

    (In March 2013, Twentieth Century Fox optioned the film rights, and hired screenwriter Drew Goddard to adapt and direct the film. In May 2014, it was reported that Ridley Scott was in negotiations to direct an adaptation that would star Matt Damon as Mark Watney. The film is scheduled for release on November 25, 2015. On September 3, 2014, Jessica Chastain joined the film as the female lead. The cast will also include Kristen Wiig, Kate Mara, Michael Pena, Mackenzie Davis, Jeff Daniels, Donald Glover, and Aksel Hennie.)

  65. OK, I’m back now, the stupid online shop took over a week to get me the book but now I’ve read it and finished the remaining of the podcast (I stopped 17 minutes in to order toe book). The book was great and I got to re-live it while listening to the podcast. Truly amazing!

  66. LOG ENTRY: SOL 550

    Oh yeah, I’m pretty much f****d.

    Hermes is gone. After recovering from the 12-g blackout I had a great view of it through the gaping hole in the MAV hull, a gleaming dot that pulled away and shrank into the starfield. I’ve had nothing to do but think, and I think I found where it all went wrong, right from the very start.

    I didn’t have as much water as I thought. I had neglected the density of the materials when converting the hydrazine from the MDS. I should have been working in moles and not kg. The 292l of hydrazine (density 1.02kg/l) was 298kg. Since hydrazine’s molecular weight is 32.0452, 1 mole is 32.0452g, that means the 298kg was 9299 moles of hydrazine. Those 9299 moles hydrazine (N2H4) yielded 9299 moles of N2 and 18598 moles of H2. That H2 would make 18598 moles of water (H2O, molecular weight 18.0153), so that’s 335048g of water, or 335kg. Water’s density is 0.997 kg/l, so 335kg is 336l.

    So, even though I thought I had made 600l of water from the hydrazine, it was really only 336l.

    Of course, this failed to become apparent when growing my potatoes, or I might have worked a different solution. I had the 300l of water from the hab and 336l from the hydrazine, less my 50l potable water reserve, for 586l available for the farm. Since the soil needed 40l/m3, the 126 m2 of 10 cm deep soil soaked up 504l. The farm was fine and I had 82 liters leftover.

    When the hab blew, I lost about 31% of the water through sublimation, but since I started with 636l (and not 900l as I had thought) that cut my water to 438l, which I packed into the rover for the drive to the Ares 4 MAV. And I carelessly lost 70l more along the way from urine dumps. So when I got to the MAV I only had 368l, not 550l.

    I eventually electrolyzed (as either leftover water or urine) all of my 50l potable reserve at the MAV site, so all 368l was electrolyzed for the hydrogen. Those 368l (367kg), or 20366 moles, yielded 20366 moles of H2 (molecular weight 2.016), or about 10kg of H2.

    Even if I hadn’t been reckless in dumping urine and instead stored it, then I’d have electrolyzed 438l, and made just 12kg of H2.

    Either way, the hydrogen yield was well below the 60kg NASA prescribed for making enough extra fuel to make the rendezvous. The MAV launch fell far short, and the Hermes crew, with limited attitude thrusters and the slow-acting ion drive, were unable to compensate and whipped past overhead.

    So here I am, off of Mars but no closer to home. One final meal pack would have been nice. I might have labeled it “Something Killed Me Despite Careful Plans”, but I’m not sure how I would have eaten it in the EVA suit. Wait, what about that cool 5-sided bolt? Yes, that the solution…

  67. Glad to see Adam, Will and Norm have finally discovered and loved this book as much as I do.

    I was confused by their comments about the book not having an epilogue, until I finally acquired a copy of the published hardback book and saw where it ended.

    Yes, kids, THERE’S A SECRET ENDING!! In the original self-published e-book (which is how I’ve been reading the book), there is a chapter AFTER Watney’s rescue.

    I’m looking forward to reading the “published” version and see what else has changed.

  68. Bought the book on the Friday before this podcast and finished it by Monday. It was good fun to read with an objective, hadn’t finished a book that quickly in ages.

    Every time a chapter would start with an inanimate object I dreaded turning the page to discover what catastrophe happened next and then couldn’t stop reading to find out how Mark would ingeniously solve it.

    Movie casting wise, I pictured Chow Yun Fat in the Chinese space agency. Especially during the moment of musing that the resupply mission has crippled China’s hopes of future missions.

  69. I just finished the book and thought it was terrific! Such a good story of resiliency and survival. Unless I missed it explained earlier in the book, I’m glad the question of his bathing status the whole time was answered. I think the sentimental paragraph about the unity of mankind at the very end was a bit out of character for Watney. It sounded like a final thought written directly from the authors point of view trying to really drive home the theme of the book. Besides that, this has made to the top of my list. It was also the first Sci-fi novel I’ve ever read. And I too, like Norm, imagined Lewis as the ship captain from Starship Troopers.

  70. Also if anyone out there has created or found links to concept designs of any of the equipment from the novel I would love to see it!

  71. I bought this book so I could come back and watch this video and I must say…

    What a book!

    I haven’t read anything I’ve liked so much in a while

  72. Way late, but I just finished the audiobook. The voices on the audiobook were great. R. C. Bray did the audiobook. This was a good spoilercast, glad I didn’t spoil it. Can’t wait to see the movie, and see what Adam builds!

    I imagine the water break was left in unintentionally.

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