Andy Weir, the son of a particle physicist and an electrical-engineer, was first hired as a programmer for Sandia National Laboratories at age 15. He is a self-proclaimed lifelong space nerd and a devoted hobbyist of subjects like relativistic physics, orbital mechanics and the history of manned spaceflight.
In his 20s, Weir began writing science fiction on the side while working as a software engineer. He was self-publishing his work on his blog for free.
The Martian is Weir’s first novel. He started the book in 2009, researching it to be as realistic as possible based on existing technology, and posting it to his blog chapter by chapter. The story unfolded over the course of several years, but Weir has stated that he knows the exact date of each day in The Martian.
A Compelling Story
“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?” asks an overview on Weir’s Web site.
“Left for dead on a barren wasteland of a planet, Watney battles to survive despite impossible odds. Though bodily concerns, like his dwindling food supply, could easily end him, the soul-crushing loneliness of deep space is just as brutal a foe. But Weir gives his protagonist a sharp sense of humor, as crucial as anything else in his fight for survival, and key to keeping the reader fully locked in,” Barnes & Noble reported in its write-up for the Best Fiction Books of 2014.
While Publishers Weekly’s David Fugate observed “Watney’s solutions to food and life support problems are plausible, and Weir laces the technical details with enough keen wit to satisfy hard science fiction fan and general reader alike. Deftly avoiding the problem of the Robinson Crusoe tale that bogs down in repetitious behavior, Weir uses Watney’s proactive nature and determination to survive to keep the story escalating to a riveting conclusion.”
Even Entertainment Weekly’s Nick Catucci weighed in by calling the book “An impressively geeky debut…the technical details keep the story relentlessly precise and the suspense ramped up. And really, how can anyone not root for a regular dude to prove the U-S-A still has the Right Stuff?”
At the request of fans, Weir eventually made an Amazon Kindle version of the book available through Amazon.com for the minimum price (99 cents).The Kindle edition sold 35,000 copies in the first three months — more than had been previously downloaded for free! Within four months, The Martian had risen to the top spot on Amazon’s sci-fi best-seller list.
This attracted the attention of publishers, and Podium Publishing, an audiobook publisher, signed for the audiobook rights in January 2013. The audiobook was nominated for a 2014 Science Fiction Audie Award.
Two months after selling the audio rights, Weir sold the print rights to The Crown Publishing Group for six figures. The Martian was published in print by Crown on February 11, 2014. The book debuted on The New York Times Best Seller list on March 2, 2014 in the hardcover fiction category at twelfth position.
Also, in March 2013, Twentieth Century Fox optioned the film rights, and hired screenwriter Drew Goddard to adapt the film. In May 2014, it was reported that Ridley Scott would direct an adaptation starring Matt Damon as Mark Watney, and preview footage of the movie’s first scenes shown at CinemaCon last month “elicited an impressive reaction,” according to Variety film reporter Dave McNary. The film is scheduled for release in 3D in November 2015.
Pretty impressive for a programmer’s first novel, don’t you think?
- Andy Weir interviewed on the show Triangulation: http://twit.tv/show/triangulation/163
- Andy Weir Crown Publishing Group Web site: http://www.andyweirauthor.com
- The Martian: A Novel: http://www.amazon.com/The-Martian-Novel-Andy-Weir-ebook/dp/B00EMXBDMA